Never think twice about a bike service

Have you ever wondered if a bike service is worth the money?  Have you ever thought your bike will be fine if you keep it clean and lube the chain occasionally?  Well, think again.

A few years back, I had a bad experience with a bike service.  I paid for what should have been a gold star service that included a complete strip down, re-grease and rebuild.  The cost of the service wasn’t cheap.  But a couple of months later, I started out for a ride, and the handlebars started to wobble in a way similar to the headset being loose.  Luckily, I wasn’t far from home because before I even had a chance to tighten it, it fell apart.  I kid you not, the bearings just fell out of the bottom of the steerer tube.  Not only that, but there was not a sign of grease, and they had disintegrated being bone dry and rusty.  Had the bike shop done their job correctly, the headset bearings should have been replaced, let only greased!  I will not name and shame the bike shop, but needless to say, the shop has since gone out of business.

I have used my local bike shop ever since who have always done a good job.

For a while now, I had a creaking noise coming from the vicinity of my bottom bracket.  I tried the usual stuff, like taking my pedals off, greasing them and putting them back on.  Checking the chain ring and saddle bolts were tightened to the correct torque setting.  But to no avail.  Then, when I was out on a ride, it felt as though the bike was holding back in some way.  It was a difficult sensation to describe.  A bit like pedaling through water.  Maybe that was just me through😊.

To cut a long story short, I decided it was time to get it looked at properly.  That was when I saw the Facebook advert from CyCool offering a complete strip-down and rebuild.  And the advert did my bike would be stripped down to the frame.  I had seen the CyCool Land Rover at a couple of events but, more importantly, parked outside my favourite coffee shop during the summer.  So, despite my previous experience booked not one but two of my bikes.

Man, am I glad that I did.  It was evident that if I hadn’t, a major failure of the bottom bracket would have been inevitable while I was out on a ride.  That could have left me stranded miles from home.

Here, in Oscar’s own words, is what he found:

“.. the Trek Checkpoint was suffering from a failing bottom bracket, causing a continuous creak, annoying it’s rider! Not only had the outer bearing dust cover cracked, the whole bottom bracket had collapsed inside, meaning that it could possibly have been installed incorrectly, or overtightened in manufacture. I collected the correct replacement part from a local bike store, and had both bikes fully serviced, repaired, rebuilt and back with their own within 4 days.

I also took the time to sand down, respray and reinstall rusting washers, just to keep it looking as good as can be, as well as the shine of the drivetrains after going through the ultrasonic cleaner!”

I admit it is one of those weird, geeky cycling things, but I have always wanted to have my bike chain cleaned using an ultrasonic cleaner!

Maybe I should have taken it out for a test ride close to home for my first trip out.  But no, as they say, “in for a penny, in for a pound”. So I headed off to do another of the rides from Jack Thurston’s Lost Lanes books.  This one began at Canterbury, followed the coastline to Herne Bay and then looped back to the start.  The ride included a variety of surfaces, including on and off-road.  You can check out the route on Komoot (with photos) or Strava.  I will be making a (bad) vlog about the ride sometime soon.

I am delighted to say the only surprises I had were good ones.  My Checkpoint performed superbly.  I wish the same could be said about the rider!  It ran as smooth as sweet as it ever has, and I finished the ride without any mechanicals.  That strange dragging sensation had disappeared (but maybe that was me). There is still a slight creak when I push down hard on the pedals going uphill, but that gives me something to try and find, fiddling about with torque wrench.  At least I am safe in the knowledge that there isn’t a major mechanical failure waiting around the corner.

As good as new

Photographs by CyCool’s Oscar Voller

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