Improve your ride (part 2)

How much servicing does a bike need?

Regular servicing of your bike is essential and necessary to keep it in good working order. Many riders only consider the initial investment when it comes to owning a bike, while completely ignoring the essential regular maintenance. If the brakes start squeaking and the gears not shifting – don not rush to buy a new bike. Regular bike servicing will keep it running smoothly and save you money in the long run.

Gears

Gears may need regular service

Most bikes we see in the workshop have some kind of gearing problem. The gears may not be selecting correctly, making a horrible noise or the chain might be dropping. Any of the above symptoms and your gears will benefit with a service.

Why whould the gears go “bad”? Well, multiple reasons – could be a crash or unintended push or shove of the bike into a tight shed. Or it could be even the way the bike is transported at the bak of the car.

Rear derailleur hanger can be bent

If your bike is equipped with electronic shifting, it may be less prone to gear problems. Yet we find that these type of gears also need regular servicing. The firmware needs regular upgrades, the limit screws may need adjusting and last but not least – the derailleur hanger may need straightening. So there are some improvements which can be had here too.

Getting the gears to work correctly will give you the correct gear ratio when you need it and save you from stalling or spinning out.

Brakes

Rim brake servicing

Rim brakes work due to friction between the brake pads and the wheel rims. The brake pads are made from softer material and require regular replacement. Rims on the other hand wear out a lot less. In order for the rim brake to operate effectively, the rim has to be true. Even the smallest buckle will make the rim rub intermittently on the brake pad.

Disc brakes work in a similar way, but use a rotor attached to the hub instead. The advantage of this system is that the brake is away from the road, thus reducing wear and tear. A good quality hydraulic brakes will feel sharper and more powerful than rim brakes. Yet, they are heavier and may fade when overheated. Servicing is also a bit more expensive.

Hydraulic disc brakes use hoses and hydraulic fluid to operate the brake. The fluid used in the brakes will not compress, so the transfer of braking power from the brake lever to the brake pads is without power loss. Often water and air will seep into the hydraulic system, thus causing the brake to feel “spongy”. A brake bleed will usually fix this. The brake pads and rotors also need regular replacement as they wear down with use.

Brake squeal (or squeak) is a common problem for both types of brakes and it’s caused by contamination of the braking surfaces. The contamination may be from the road, oil from the chain, or even from accidentally touch with bare hand. A good clean of the brakes will often resolve this.

You should never compromise on your safety – keep your brakes in top condition.

Transmission

Bike transmission includes all bike parts used to transfer the power from your legs to the wheel and requires as regular servicing as any other part of the bike. Many bike owners think that spraying the chain and cassette in lubricant is the only think they need to do, but this will often create more problems than solve.

Transmission servicing is essential too

Bicycle chain is one component that is replaced as often as the brake pads and tyres. It is a consumable and it is important to keep it clean and well lubricated. Even the smallest wear on the chain will stop it engaging fully with the cassette and chainrings. Keep your chain clean and well lubed in order to avoid quick wear.

A worn chain will start wearing down the cassette and chainrings. This will make the chain slip when you apply power to the pedals. This can be rather dangerous if it happens when climing on a busy road.

A common mistake with chain maintenance is not cleaning the chain and just adding more and more lubricant. This is a sure way to attract more dirt and grit on the chain, which will continue wearing it down. The dirt will also absorb the lubricant, instead of letting it seep to the parts where it’s needed. So if you would like to keep your chain in good condition – clean it first and then oil it regularly. A clean and well working transmission will make you go a bit faster and you will feel less tired at the end of a ride.

Bearings

Different size sealed bearings

Hubs, headsets and bottom brackets – all have bearings inside and they need regular maintenance. This type of work requires a bit of skill and some specialised tools. If your wheels are not spinning freely, your headset feels a bit crunchy or the bottom bracket is making unusual noises, than it is definitely time to look at the bearings.

Most modern bikes use sealed bearings which come in many shapes and sizes. This is why when servicing a hub or headset we need to remove the bearings and measure them before ordering the correct replacements. Bearings can be so stuck inside the frame that they often require special tools for removal. Installing the new bearings has to be done with precision in order to make sure that they are aligned well against each other and the other components in the frame.

Servicing your bike at Fulcycle

Regular servicing is essential and will save you a lot of money and time in the future. We provide three levels of service – Bronze, Silver and Gold, depending on the level of work needed. The service interval will depend on how often you ride the bike and how hard you ride. In general we recommend to service the bike with us at least once a year or more often, if you are a regular rider. A small service before a race will also give you a piece of mind during the competition.

Help provide free bike servicing to NHS and key workers fighting COVID-19

National Health Service

In these difficult times we are helping the country with all we have.

Many key workers are relying on bicycles to get to and from work.  The last thought on their mind after an 18-hour shift saving lives from COVID-19, is fixing a puncture or adjusting the gears on their bikes.

We’re giving you the power to help ensure medical staff get to and from the local hospitals safely. 

  • £20 will ensure a puncture free bike.
  • £60 will ensure that the bike is safe to ride and brakes and gears are fully functioning
  • £100 will allow for a full overhaul of the bike

100% of your donations go towards the cost of fixing bikes for the hospital and key workers

We are in this together

In wake of the increasing strain that the Covid-19 crisis is putting on all of us, we wanted to let you know that we are still open and more than happy to fix your bike. The government has defined bicycle shops as a key services and for a good reason. Cycling is still one of the best ways to get around and keep fit while keeping the social distancing and stopping the spread of the infection.

In order to continue working we are adopting the following steps in the workshop:

  • If you cannot come to the workshop we can collect the bike for you or do simple repairs at your home or workplace (within 8 miles from OX33 1XW)
  • If you chose to come to the workshop, knock on the door and wait outside
  • Call ahead or use the contact form
  • Phone and wait in your car if you arrive by car
  • 2m distance at all times

A puncture repair or a Di2 gear service we will make sure that your bike is back on the road as quickly as possible.

Fulcycle sponsoring young Belgium Rider – Alex Bosley (UK)

Alex and Bryan

Alex is a young talented rider selected to ride for WAC, a professional Belgium team, is an all-rounder and is looking to win the GC for the team.

Alex started cycling at 14, transitioning from athletics, so would be best described as having a broad base and lots of headroom.  He was too late to the party to make the cut for the highest level GB squads (i.e. Junior Academy), but certainly competes strongly with the academy riders.

Bike fitting in progress

In his second year as an Under 16, he finished the year ranked 13th nationally, after some poor planning and a nasty crash end of season prevented him reaching his goal of a top 10 ranking finish.  Last year, as a first year junior, he had a mountain to climb in terms of improving his fitness and endurance, and learning how to race the longer races at this level.  Alex did improve rapidly, his main aim was to race in Europe, and he spent three weeks over there in the summer.  He did a couple of races for BC Central Region, in one of which he got 11th place.  He was also in the Johann Museeuw Classic, with the team, and he had a strong peloton finish after they got a rider in the break (peloton finished 22 seconds after break after 120 km at average 45 kph).

After a few adjustments the fit already looks much better.

This season Alex is focussed on a few main races, mainly the high status stage races.  He may do the Johann Meseeuw UCI 1.1 again for BC Central Region, and possibly the Tour of Ireland.  With his Belgian Team he has a number of races, end of season there is the Phillippe Gilbert UCI race in October, there’s the Stef van Zuid-Limberg, possibly a Czech tour, and others to be decided.  These are basically his ‘A’ races, and he’ll fill his calendar with possibly some UK National races, and UCI races and Interclubs in Belgium whenever possible.

We met Alex for a first time a week ago and were taken by his cycling talent and youthful attitude. He is a charming young man who is fully committed to his cycling goals and we are more than happy taking him ‘under our wing’ so to speak and provide the bike fitting and servicing for him and his bikes.

We wish to Alex the best of luck in his future races and are more than happy to support his cycling career.