Service

The Devil Is In The Details: Three Parts To Check This Autumn

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It’s mid-September and your gear has been taking a beating. Especially if you’re still looking ahead to the slew of fall races still to come, we’ve got three maintenance tips even the most experienced cyclists forget to check all season long. 

For many riders, the season isn’t even close to being over. With the Leelanau Harvest Tour in the bag, we’ve still got a dozen or so mountain bike and gravel races to choose from across the state. Even the Iceman Cometh Challenge isn’t the last chance to be competitive; the Farmland 5K and Free-For-All Bike Race is another month after that! 

If you’re like us, you’ve been riding hard since the snow melted. You’ve certainly made a few repairs or tweaks, and we’ve probably even had you stop by for a tune-up. There are a few small things that Nate, Jeff, and Dustin always like to check this time of year, and even if you can’t make it in right away, you can check them out at home. 

All Things Pedals. Depending on your pedal system, there can actually be a ton of moving parts to clipless pedals. From the pedal spindle to play in the pedal body, every millimeter of this crucial contact point is subject to all of your power output. Take a second to feel the pedal for side-to-side play, and spin it to make sure it rotates smoothly. Listen fo a grinding or dry sound; if you hear that, you may need to service your pedals. It’s also worth looking at the springs that offer resistance to keep you clipped in. If those springs are rusted, they’re much more likely to snap or offer more play than usual. Worst case, they snap and your foot comes out! That additional float can also cause knee and ankle problems if they become too tight or too loose. 

  1. Grease Your Bottom Bracket. If you don’t know the last time someone inspected your bottom bracket, it’s time you inspected your bottom bracket. There are a dozen variations of BBs, with some more likely to squeak or bind than others. The biggest factors in wearing out these bearings aren’t time or miles; most often, the conditions you ride in dictate how long they last. Riding on wet, sandy, or muddy days can have a big impact on wear. Take your chain off the chain ring and give your cranks a spin; much like your pedals, a grinding sound or quick stop means your BB is probably dry. You can also give your cranks a sort of push-pull to feel for lateral play in the bottom bracket. If it moves at all, you need service. 

    Valve cores. Really, your whole tubeless system probably needs to be looked over. With a valve core tool, check to make sure your valves are still tight. Months of airing up can change how they fit in the valve itself. Additionally, the sealant at the base of the valve core can build up, making it harder to pump in air. Shake your wheel and listen for the slosh of sealant; if you don’t hear anything, your tires are dried out and need more juice. 

This time of year, it’s all about the little things. Taking extra care of your bike will help to avoid disappointed mechanicals on race day, and make sure you’re not stranded on the trail when things get cold, soggy, and a bit darker. We can offer you a free estimate and let you know what your bike needs to keep rolling. Stop in for September tune-up and ride into autumn with confidence!

The Most Useful Tool In Your Garage....

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It has zero moving parts, costs less than $15, and can save you thousands in repairs over the life of your bike. Do you have one?

There seems to be no end to the number of tools on offer. With a wide range of ‘standards’ making mockery of the very word, your tool box is always growing. There is one tool, however, that works with ever brand, every speed, and any bike, and it could save your a ton of money each season. It’s the chain gauge.

The chain tool, the chain checker, call it what you want. This handy tool can do more for your bike than you think. By checking your chain once a week, you can track the wear of your chain and your drivetrain, helping you replace parts early to get more life out of every link and cog.

The chain gauge will offer you two different numbers, .75 and .1. With a wear indication of .5, most parts manufacturers recommend replacing your chain. Doing this on time and consistently means you’ll only have to replace the chain without suffering a decrease in shift performance. Some riders can get two, three, four, even more chains without having to address any other drive train parts!

If you wait until 1, you may need to replace your chain and cassette together. This is because those parts wear together, and installing a new chain might cause skipping and the dreaded ‘mystery’ shift when you’re putting down the power.

Just how long and how many miles you get from each chain can vary widely based on your type of riding and conditions. A single ride in the rain and sand can eat away your chain’s life span quickly; each fall, an especially wet Out’n’Back can be enough to knock the life out of a relatively new chain! Based on our experiences, checking your chain once a week is enough to identify wear patterns. Road bikes ridden in dry conditions can usually get 500 miles or more; mountain bikes, however, can wear in half the time due to dust, sand, and the unique torque they face on the trail.

Stop by and we’ll grab you a chain tool and show you how to use it. By staying ahead of your repairs, you’ll save a lot of money in the long haul and face fewer big repairs, which means your bike spends less time in the shop and more time out on the roads or trails!

Mud, Sweat and Beers 2019: Race Week Check List

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For Pros to beginners, Mud, Sweat and Beers is often the very first tilt of the season. It’s been a full six months since Iceman, and you may have forgotten what check before you hit the start line. We take you through a few things to do this week to make sure your rig is ready to shred.

You can’t gain much fitness in the final five days before a race, but you can take care of some of the technical details to avoid mechanicals and get the most out of the hard work you’ve put in to get ready for the event. We offer a quick race-week tune up to check and tweak some hard-to-adjust things like your bottom bracket and hubs, but there are plenty of things that you can do to make sure you’re all set.

  1. Tubeless refresh. When’s the last time you added sealant to your tires? If you aren’t sure, it’s probably time, especially if your bike hasn’t seen much action over winter. Adding 2-4 oz of your preferred sealant is the best way to avoid flats. Make sure you stick with the sealant you used last time; Stan’s and Orange Seal don’t interact well and may not seal a puncture as quickly. It might also be a good time to remove the tire and wipe out all the old, dried sealant, too. Ideal Day: Do this on Monday to make sure everything seals up and holds well.

  2. Drive Train Check. Use a chain gauge to check the stretch and wear of your chain. If it’s beyond .75, it may be time to replace your chain and cassette. If the weather looks bad, it may not be a bad idea to stick with your worn drive train until after the race so you don’t put some destructive miles on new parts. Ideal Day: Tuesday. This gives you a little time to ride the new stuff and make any adjustments that might be necessary.

  3. Torque It Down. Take a T25 or adjustable torque wrench and check your stem, seat post, and other bolts that you may have adjusted this spring. It’s also a good time to check for any play in your hubs, see how tight your thru axles or quick releases levers, even your how firm your pedals are installed.

  4. Spin Those Pedals. Pedals often get neglected. Take a second to feel for side-to-side play in your pedal body before a race to make sure you’re as efficient as possible. You can also spin the pedals and listen to a grind or a jerky, uneven turn. That means your bearings are dry and may need to be serviced. If you ride Crank Bros Egg Beaters or Candy pedals, you might also look to make sure that the springs aren’t rusted and move evenly. Ideal Day: Wednesday, so that you have time to ride new or serviced pedals a time or two before the event.

  5. Shock Pressure. Making sure your fork and shock are good to roll is key. Check your pressure and make a note of how the settings contribute to your recon ride. Play with a few psi firmer or softer, and make sure you adjust for sag as well. Nate is a genius at getting your fork or full suspension set-up for the trail. If you need pointers, stop by! Ideal Day: Every day. Keeping an accurate record of your suspension can help you make the right adjustments for how and where you ride.

There are few things as thrilling as tearing through the woods with your pals, and nothing more disappointing than having that experience soiled by a flat tire or loose part. Take five minutes a day this week to check one of these easy adjustments off your list, and if your bike needs more, get it into City Bike Shop soon! From everyone at the shop, have a wonderful race and we’ll see you at the start line!

Spring Riding Essentials: Be Ready For The Thaw

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While we shoveled just two days ago and the shop windows were lined with frost this morning, spring is coming. With temps hitting the 40s and even 60s over the next few days, even a cold snap or two during the ides of March won’t slow the approach of spring.

To get ready, we put together a few bits of gear you might want to nab so you’re ready to roll when the roads are clear. With so much snow in the woods and much of the trails almost sure to turn icy, hitting the pavement is likely the best way to enjoy the warmer days.

  1. Tires. Even with mostly clear pavement, you’re going to find plenty of splotches of ice, dirt, debris, and water out on the roads. For more grip, put the widest tires you can on your road bike. We’re rocking a mix of Panaracer GravelKings in both the slick and treaded options in a nice wide 32c. We’ve had a ton of luck with these tires on the dirt and on the road over the past two years, and they’ve proven to be extremely durable for high miles and puncture resistant, too.

  2. Check Your Flat Kit. It’s been a long while since you’ve looking in your bag. Make sure your tube hold air, your chuck or pump aren’t rusted out, and make sure you’ve got a lever, a patch, and maybe a quick link, too. There’s nothing worse than flatting on a cold, soggy spring ride, only to find you don’t have everything you need to get moving again.

  3. Dress For Anything. Spring weather is notoriously changeable in northern Michigan, and if you head out in sun, seeing rain clouds unleash overhead just a few miles later isn’t a surprise. Always bring a shell or rain jacket, which will also come in handy if you have to stop for a flat. Grabbing a second pair of gloves for the second half of the ride isn’t a bad idea, either.

  4. Tubeless? Get Refreshed. Your wheels haven’t turned in a while, so you’ll need to make sure your tubeless sealant is refreshed. We usually take the extra second to take the tire off the rim and clean out the old, dried up sealant. If you don’t have an air compressor, it’s usually easier to just drop off your wheels and let us tackle it.

  5. Fenders. Especially if you ride with pals, a set of fenders are a real treat. Many bikes will have dedicated mounts to fit sturdy, full coverage fenders. Even if your bike doesn’t have those mounts, there are plenty of clip-on options that fit a wide range of wheel sizes and tire widths. They do more than just help keep you dry, too. Fendors also help keep your drivetrain, bottom bracket, pedals, and frame protected from slush and salt.

  6. Get Visible. Drivers often just aren’t used to seeing riders back on the road in March and April. This makes it more important than ever to wear bright, visible colors to stand out against the grey roads and white, snowy shoulders of the road. Even if you’re riding during day, use a pair of bright front and rear lights to draw more attention and give yourself a little more room.

  7. Get In Soon. Need a tune-up? Get in now. The first sunny day with temperatures over 50 and we’re going to get a big rush of bikes needing work. The sooner you can get your bike to Natron and Jeff, the better. Call ahead to reserve a spot or check in on our current turn-around time!

We’re exciting for the new season to get here, and we want to make sure we’ve got everything you need to hit the spring at full speed!