News and views from Minneapolis' only worker-owned bike co-op.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Overhauls. A day at the spa for your bike!
New or old. Everyday riding or weekend recreation. Fair weather or right through the snow and mud. Someday soon your bike will be crying out for a complete overhaul. Here is the truth about maintenance; no matter how diligently you air up your tires and lube your chain, there is nothing you can do to prevent the break down and failure of lubrication. All the grease inside your bearing systems will eventually collect enough moisture from the air and grit from the road that it will just stop working how its supposed to. In fact you don't even have to take your bike out of the garage for lubrication to break down, it is simply the natural progression of things. All of your cable housing will eventually fail in much the same way, and lets not forget that your brake pads, tires, chain, cassette, rims, saddles and bar tape will all wear out and need to be replaced. But, it's really not so gloomy, because the solution is as close as the service department at your local Hub Bike Co-op. So, lets take care of all of this at once so you can get back out and ride! Here is how we do it.
We take a good look at your bike and make a list of all the parts that are worn out and in need of replacement, then we get to work stripping parts off your bike, recycling what is past its usable life and cleaning the rest with degreasers and solvents to uncover their original beauty.
Here is the rear derailleur and freewheel before and after.
And, here is the crank set before and after.
Now, on to the bearings. this is where overhaul service really steps up and gives you more bang for your buck than a tune-up. For tune-ups we perform adjustments on bearing systems, but we don't get a chance to get inside and really clean them out to remove any contaminants that will hinder smoothness and cause premature wear and tear.
Here is the hub when it came in. there is obviously a lot going on in here that we don't want. for starters, the grease is old and has started to harden and gel, feels more like peanut butter then lubricant. Secondly, this grease is filled with contaminants and all of that grit is wreaking havoc on the bearing race, which needs to stay smooth in order to function well.
Here is the hub after a thorough cleaning.
And, here, the final step. New ball bearings and a healthy coating of grease. This is a Teflon-fortified grease which holds up well to moisture and pressure. This grease is fairly thin and "sticky" which leaves a good meniscus layer between contact points for optimal performance and protection.
Along with your bearings, we give star treatment to the threads that hold your bike together.
Before and after cleaning up the threads on the fork's steerer.
So, when do you know to get an overhaul? There's no easy answer, but some agreed upon "standards" may help. Most bearing systems (i.e. headset or hubs) should be overhauled every 3000 miles or so when riding in primarily good conditions and as frequently as every 1500 miles if riding in wet, muddy, very sandy or dusty and extreme conditions. The trick is to do it often enough that you aren't caught always replacing parts due to wear when more frequent overhauls could keep those bearing systems alive for the long haul.
And for those of you with internally geared hubs, hydraulics or suspension systems, check with the manufacturer of the product, but generally get these items serviced once a year to keep them in good running order.