322 S Union St.
Traverse City, MI 49684
(231)947-1312
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January 25, 2015, 9:09 pm

Raise your hand if you raced the 2014 Iceman Cometh Challenge. Those that competed, how many of you crossed the finish line, made a bee-line past the WD-40 Bike Wash station to the Bell's tent to celebrate the fact that you and maybe your bike survived some of the worst conditions in Iceman's 25-year history? And how many of you made it home, let the bike dry out and didn't think about cleaning it for a few days? Weeks? Yeah, my hand is still up too.

Here's the deal, Northwest Michigan is an awesome place to ride, but as everyone who raced Iceman now knows, nasty weather during rides here will ruin a bike. Fast. Like, in less then 30 miles fast. Our sandy soil can be a blessing and a curse - with a solid week of rain, a carpet of leaves and some fresh logging trails for poops and giggles, it was a curse. With 4500+ racers hitting the Iceman course and conditions changing throughout the day, it was a different race for everyone, but the bottom line was the water, sand and muck got into and wrecked everything in sight. Bike shop owners throughout the Midwest were jumping for joy.

Assuming your bike is at least washed by now, but the aftermath hasn't been addressed yet, what do you do this winter to ensure your bike is ready to go this spring? Below are some tips from the CBS service department for the mechanically inclined and un-inclined to get your bike back in shape:

For the mechanically un-inclined:

  • Does the sight of your sight of your post-Iceman bike make you ill?  We'll make it easy on you, bring your whip to us and we'll fix it. All of it. You'll get it back cocked, locked and ready to rock.

For the mechanically inclined:

  • Brakes: Wet sand on a sloppy day will smoke your brake pads in short order. Removed them, inspect and replace as needed. Inspect your rotors for warping, gouging, etc. If the pads are worn down all the way to the metal backing, chances are you're going to need new rotors too.
  • Cassette, chainrings & chain: Brake pads aside, nothing wears faster in bad weather then the points of contact on your drivetrain. Measure your chain, if it's outside of spec, pitch it. And yes, one ride in conditions like Iceman on a new chain or cassette can/will ruin it. Determining if your cassette is shot is a dark art, but if the valleys between the teeth are ovaled out, it's time for a new one. Under ideal conditions, replacing the chain/cassette at the same time is best - drivetrains get cranky if you pair a new chain with an old cassette or vice-a-versa. As for front chainrings, same as your cassette: if the valleys between the teeth are ovaled out, replace it.
  • Derailleur pulleys: Iceman ate derailleur pulleys for lunch. If yours look like ninja throwing stars, there is no saving them. If the teeth are still relatively square and bearings aren't seized, the pulley bearings can be disassembled, cleaned, regreased and can function properly.
  • Bottom brackets: BB's don't like water. Or sand. Or both at the same time. From personal experience, threaded external cartridge bottom brackets seem to hold up better in adverse weather conditions than BB30 or other press-fit standards. For both threaded and press fit bb's remove crankset and inspect bearings - if they don't spin smoothly, they are done. Frames also collect sand/water in the BB shell, so if you can, it doesn't hurt to remove the bb, clean the shell, regrease and then reassemble.
  • Cables: If you put a whole season on your shifter and/or brake cables, don't even check them, just go to CBS and buy new cables and housings. Nothing makes a bike shift or brake like new like a fresh set of cables/housings. Whatever you do, don't put new cables in old housings, cuz that is just wrong.
  • Bearings: Headset, hubs and pivot bearings if you have a full suspension rig need to be accessed, cleaned, relubed and replaced if necessary.
  • Suspension: This is next level stuff for most home mechanics, but winter is great time to get your suspension serviced. At the very least, clean and inspect your stanchions for damage. If there is significant scouring, seek help stat!

Unfortunately, Iceman destroyed bikes, it was an expensive race for everyone. When you are ready to start replacing parts or need someone to make it all better for you, swing by our shop. We stock an extensive inventory of Shimano parts (Sram too!) and our expert service staff can address your bike's needs. If we don't stock what you're looking for, we're happy to order it for you!


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