A bike should be serviced regularly. Here’s the lowdown to keeping it simple and fuss-free.
A road bike should have a basic service at least once a year, and a full service once every two years. More often if you ride it more often.
If you don’t have a local bike shop, speak to other cyclists to find the one they are most happy with. Once you have found one, establish a relationship with them. If they know you by name, they are more likely to do a better job on your bike. Sad, but true.
* Plan to have your bike serviced during a recovery week, or when you don’t plan to ride it.
* If your bike is new, most bike shops offer a free service after 6 weeks. Any respectable shop should give you one to two free tune-ups within the ﬁrst year you own the bike. Use them.
* Book your bike in first. Don’t just pitch up and expect the bike shop to do your service then and there. If you phone and book it in for a certain day, you will usually have your bike back the same day, depending on how busy the workshop is or if the bike needs parts. The bike shop is happy and you are happy because you will only be without your bike for a day.
* Determine which service you require, and ask how much it is going to cost upfront (excluding parts). A basic service (about R300 depending on the shop) includes a wash, lube, trueing the wheels, settting the gears and the brakes and checking all is in order. A full service (about R600 depending on the shop) includes opening up the bottom bracket, hub and headset and will require more time at the bike shop.
* Insist on being telephoned if extra parts are required. Ask how much they will cost and if this means there will be a delay in getting your bike back. That way there will be no nasty surprises.
* Be honest. When you need a repair, deal with the service department, not a salesman, and make an honest accounting of what happened to your bike. A good mechanic will know if you’re not telling the full story. There is even an industry name for people that do this – JRA’s, short for Just Riding Along, which is what often is touted as the reason for catastrophic failures that look like they were caused by an accident with a bus. Don’t lie to the shop.
* Is your bike under warranty? If you’ve got a broken part that’s under warranty, take it to the shop instead of calling the manufacturer. Manufacturers use shops to determine if it falls under the warranty, anyway. And when you deal with the shop ﬁrst, they’ll often go to bat for you.
* Don’t expect a free service on parts you bought elsewhere. If you buy a part in the shop, you may get a deal on price of installation. Not if you buy it somewhere else.
* Ask for an itemised repair bill. If you’re afraid of being overbilled, ask for an itemised statement.
* Ask the mechanic for feedback. Was everything in order, is there anything that might need to be replaced at the next service etc.
* Sometimes your gears might be a stiff after a service. Go for two or three rides before you take it back to complain.