Town Bike OverhaulTuesday March 29, 2011
We had a particularly brutal winter here in Missoula. The rough winter showed on the bikes that we serviced over the winter and early spring. But for a lot of folks their commuter bike is still the most efficient mode of travel, even on a cold snowy winter morning. I admit I did not ride my bike every day this winter but I commuted by bike one or two days a week. That was more than enough to put some significant wear on the bike.
Every spring I replace the chain and brake pads on my bike and usually every second or third year I replace the gear cluster. That is generally all my bike will need (besides a thorough wipe down) to get it running smooth and efficient again. Total cost to to replace a chain, cassette and brake pads is about $110. Not bad for once a year. I spend that much in gas in one month of driving.
This year was a completely different situation. My bike was encrusted in winter's filthy remnants.
Given its condition I decided to take the bike down to the frame, clean everything and replace everything that was in need of replacing and clean every moving part completely and replace any bearing that were in need of replacing.
This was such a heinous sight. I was concerned every night riding home that my chain was going to break at any time. The noise that it made was nearly unbearable. No amount of lube would quite this mess.
I am surprised this thing even turned. Come to think of it I was working pretty hard to pedal down hill. Taking the bike down to the frame is a big job but I have had this bike for well over six years and have never given it a proper overhaul. Freshening up the chain and brake pads was usually the extent of the service it received. This year things would be different. I was hoping that even after looking at a bike that appeared done and finished I could revive it and get some more time with my trusted companion. Once the the bike was down to a bare frame I could inspect, repair and replace everything that needed the attention.
O.K. So this bike needed at least as much work as I thought. But underneath the grime I saw glimmers of the shine and polish that make this bike look as good as it rides. The bushings on the rear brakes were frozen and I could not break them free so that meant new canti's to give me some stopping ability. The bearings on the bottom bracket were rolling but not as smoothly as new and, well I had the frame opened up so why not replace them now. I probably would not be opening this bike again for another five or six years so now was as good a time as any. I was certain that my headset was going to be completely worn and pitted.
I expected to have to replace that. To my surprise this super cheap - and I don't just mean inexpensive - headset was in great condition. A bit dirty but the bearings and running surface were in great condition. My drive train was a mess but some bio-degreaser and soft bristle brush brought the parts back to life.
With a few new parts and clean components I was ready to finally put winter behind me and enjoy a quite confident ride home. I even took the time to polish my frame with a bit of lemon fresh Pledge - one of my favorite bike polishes.
Oh, So much better!
What a difference a day makes...
All in all it was not cheap to refurbish the bike but it was worth it. New BB bearings $32, New brakes $48, new cassette and chain (I'm running Campy so it makes it a bit more expensive) $101, labor for a complete overhaul $120. Total cost to make my bike run like new $301. I put gas in my tank a couple of days ago cost $86 and my tank wasn't even empty. So if I ride my bike more I'll recoup the cost pretty quick and $300 once every five years, yeah I'll take it.