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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Chopped liver

One of life's major pleasures, up there with chopped liver, hot salt beef sandwiches and configuring a pix, is bicycle maintenance. Here I differ from Jerome K Jerome, who opined that if anyone offered to maintain you bike, your should chase him away with a cudgel and terrible threats. Today was bike maintenance day.

The most urgent issue was the back tire, which had grown a nasty-looking wear around the sidewalls, and a bulge at a couple of places. I don't want to take the bike out for a 24 mile run with that threatening to end my fun at whatever moment it decides is most inconvenient (see Murphy's second law; when something does go wrong, it will do so at the worst possible time).

So, first I changed the back tire. I'm proud to say that I got the old one off without using a tire lever, just my thumbs. And I got the new tire on the same way. Then I spent ages wrestling with the gear shifter to get the back wheel back on, but eventually I got it right. Then I noticed that the front tire had the same problem, so I changed that too, This bike has only done 500 miles since I put new tires on it (I had to use tire levers for the front). I think the problem is that when it gets jammed up with mud and grit, that abrades the tire. I don't think there's much I can do about it - the mud is inevitable with the cross-country riding I'm doing, and I can't get it all off until I get home and give the bike a shower with the pressure washer. But a pair of new Schwalbe Blackjack Kevlar-reinforced tires is only £20 (I just ordered a pair on Ebay to replace the ones I just fitted) and 500 miles is 20 rides or more. The cost of these tires is totally dwarfed by the cost of the petrol I use to get to where I'm caching.

While I had the bike out for maintenance, I had a look at the pedals. They've been a bit stiff to turn. Nothing too bad, but they should rotate freely. The answer turned out to be a couple of drops of oil on the bearings.

At the same time, I checked the back and front brakes (it's deeply disappointing if they don't work when they're needed), made sure that the gears change as they should. And I oiled the place where the handlebars come out for folding, that was looking a tad rusty.

So now the bike is fettled and ready for her next outing.

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