A Complete Guide on How to Service a Road Bike Yourself
If you own a road road bike, you’ve likely had it serviced professionally at some point. Did you know that some servicing is relatively straightforward and easy to achieve yourself? Below we delve into the most frequently asked questions and the ins and outs of some servicing requirements.
What does a bike service do?
The main point of a bike service is to make sure that it’s working efficiently and safely while in use. Much like a car service, a bike service ensures that your bike is working correctly and to its full potential. This can highlight any components on your bike that need upgrading or fixing and can save you money on any costly repairs and replacements that can happen as a result of improper care and servicing.
When to service your bike
This depends on a number of factors, the two most important being how often you ride your bike and in what season of the year. If you’re a regular summer rider, you should consider servicing your bike once a month. You will need to do it more often if you ride predominantly in the cooler months, as frost and cold weather conditions can do more damage to your bike.
How to service a road bike yourself
Before checking for any wear or damage, we always recommend cleaning your bike. Clearing away any mud or debris will not only make the servicing process easier and cleaner, but it’ll help you find any smaller issues or damages with ease as well.
When cleaning your bike, make sure you also clean the working elements such as the chain and brake pads. Although you can get a dedicated cleaning solution for cleaning your bike, you can also do this on a budget with warm water and washing-up liquid.
When inspecting your bike, start with the wheels. When placed on a stand, check that they’re running smoothly. If you notice any buckling, it may be time to replace the wheel or have it professionally trued. If your bike has time brakes, make sure you check the braking surface as well as the hubs.
Once you’ve inspected the wheels, check the tyres for small wear and tear damage. This is also a good time to check the tyre pressure and adjust it to suit your riding style. If you find a puncture, it’s a good time to replace the inner tube.
When it comes to properly checking your brakes, the key thing to focus on is their alignment. Whether you have a rim or disc brake, it’s best to check your brakes effectively by removing the wheels first. This makes it easier to check for mud and debris which can wear the brakes down over time. If you find mud and debris, clear them away before re-adding the wheels.
If you have rim brakes, check that the tension in the cables is correct. You can adjust the tension by using an Allen key to pull the cable from the barrel. For disc brakes, check for any softness when you pull the lever brake, this is a good indicator that you need to inspect the brake discs further.
The drivechain helps many components work together on your bike. The best way to inspect a drivechain is to purchase and use a chain wear gauge, which can help you decide whether your drivetrain needs replacing. A good indicator that you need a replacement is when the chain feels loose.
Bolts & Bearings
When it comes to bearings on your bike frame, a good indicator that they need to be replaced is when they start to feel rough to the touch, as this shows wear. With bike bolts, you’ll mostly just need to tighten them in place during an inspection. Loose bolts can cause damage over time, so it’s best to include this in your checklist when you’re servicing your bike yourself.
Finally, check for any cracks or issues with the frame and your accessories. We recommend using a flashlight for this as some damage can be hard to see with the naked eye in low-light conditions. If you do notice cracks in your frame, seek a second opinion from a professional who will be able to assist you further.