I was watching the brown water in the washing machine turn black, when I thought I really ought to do something about the state of my bike.
Looking around at other people’s bikes at the start of a ride is always entertaining. You can tell a lot about the person and how they will ride, from the way their bike is set up, which components have been changed, and which have been left alone.
Take my bike for instance. 5 seconds staring at it will tell you I’m a bit of a lazy sod. I oil the chain, and service the rest just before it stops working completely. The frame tubes see a stiff brush if they’re lucky, the Salsa quick release occasionally gets a dab of oil when it reminds me, and that’s about it.
Those of you who cringe at the thought of this neglect and uncaring, heartless behaviour read on – There’s a sound logic to my madness…
In around 1995/6 when I was getting heavily into this mountain biking I noticed that one lad always seemed to suffer from mechanical problems, and the really curious thing was that he really cared for his kit. If he had a spare evening he’d strip down his bearings, pack them with new grease, and then tut tut at the people who hadn’t stripped down their headset once in the last 4 months.
Over the years I’ve noticed that if you don’t oil your cables regularly, they seize. Likewise with your chain (although it does go a nice auburn colour). I have noticed that headsets are quite resilient, and that my old LX parralax (Sounds like a very strong constipation remedy – “don’t worry Mr Smith, your legs will start working again soon”.) hubs could manage with just two strip downs a year, if you ride more than 25 miles a week you might want to get greasy more often, but bear in mind that the easiest way to break any component is by putting it back together wrong.
A hub might be designed to handle some very heavy riding, but tight manufacturing tolerances mean it might not withstand being taken apart after every race.
That’s why I strongly believe in the ‘just in time’ method of bike maintenance. I might be a little close to crossing the wilful neglect line at times, but I reckon I’m just on the right side of that line.
And to those people who reckon full suspension needs more care and attention, I say my Santa Cruz has been working perfectly for over a year now, but then it’s never been jet washed, has only seen a sponge when it really needed it, and hasn’t been taken apart yet.
I once rode for months on a bottom bracket that was steadily chewing up its bearings, until one day the crank arms started hitting the chainstays. So what if it made nasty grinding noises, it wasn’t damaging anything other than the bottom bracket itself… But at the time I was delivering newspapers on a cheapo Emmelle…