Spoke Talk: Fix it — time for some bike maintenance

Alan Perkins/For Steamboat Today

Ouch! Yeah, that brake rotor is hot! As I look at my shin to see if it left a mark, I wonder what an idiot move. I notice the rotor looks a bit discolored.

We’ve just come down Kokomo Pass, and I was thinking my rear brakes were a touch sketchy. After all, I did do an entire summer of backcountry riding and frankly didn’t give those brakes a second thought.

It’s easy to get caught off guard with bike maintenance but a good idea to do a quick check of the most worn, most suspect parts.

So let’s start with brakes. On a mountain bike, pads and rotors can be the most common to replace. I try to carry an extra set of pads in my bike parts kit. I roached my rear rotor by not paying attention to the wear of my rear pads.

Some suggest that a scored rotor — grooves and discoloration — means the rotor should always be replaced. Given the above situation, I didn’t have a new rotor but did replace the pads that evening in camp.

Not sure? Look it up.

No time to wrench it yourself? Then wheel your whip down to one of our local bike shops. For a road bike, check the cables, check the pads and check that rim surface.

Next is the drivetrain. Start with the chain. One of the most used tools in my collection is a park chain checker. Basically, this device measures the amount of chain stretch in your chain, mountain or road.

Outside the limit? Replace it.

After the chain will be that rear cassette. Look at the teeth — if they are “hollowed” or out of round, then along with the chain, give it a swap. For your pack, keep a quick link just in case you blow a chain apart.

One shouldn’t miss a basic tire check in our simple review. Check the tread and check the sidewalls. I can get 3,000 to 5,000 miles out of a set of tires. On a mountain bike, I just ride ‘em until they fall off the rims.

Seriously, a trail miles away from civilization is the absolute worst location to have a tire disintegrate. It’s a long walk home. Keep an extra tube and what they call a boot, something you can stash inside a tire if you slash a sidewall.

If you want to perform some basic bike maintenance a key tool is a simple yet highly necessary bike stand. There are several models to choose from but the more you think you’ll use your bike stand, the more money you should set aside in your budget.

Many cyclists start with a basic model costing around $100, and once they figure out how often they work on their bikes, they’ll typically upgrade to a more durable, more expensive model.

Road, gravel, mountain, dirt jump, BMX. Routt County Riders is your local source for grass roots advocacy and cycling information. If you need help or advice, contact us.

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Alan Perkins is a Routt County Riders board member and volunteer.

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