Words by Simon Nash
Keeping your bike running in tip top mechanical order at this time of year can be far from easy, what with all that mud, crap and ice threatening to derail your best efforts at every opportunity.
We decided to ask owner of a company specialising in lubes and maintenance products to share some advice for us mountain bikers. Luckily Green Oil’s Simon Nash thought this was splendid idea and thoroughly agreed, and gave us the great advice you can read below.
Snow means salt so coat it in oil
Generally, its not a good thing to put on too much lube on your chain. However, when it snows, that salt on the road changes things. For snowy weather, we recommend a thick layer of wet lube to coat your whole chain. This will protect from salt flinging up from the road, thereby preventing rust.
Lube those gaps
You need oil mainly between the links of the bicycle chain – this is where friction occurs, and oil is needed. Excess lube on the outside of the chain can attract dirt and dust. Therefore, lube the inside of the chain for one length, spin the cranks to work it in, then wipe off excess with a rag.
Cables can rub against your frame, and if aluminium, wear it away. This can be solved cheaply by putting a sticker or plaster over the affected area. Then just replace these as they wear out. Purpose- made patches can purchased at your local bike shop. Or you can use nail vanish, to keep covering the rubbing area (see tip below).
Too lazy to wash?
If you are lazy, at least lube up the chain every three weeks, wiping off excess with a rag – this is the most basic aspect of bike maintenance
Inflate your tyres
Pumping up tyres to the correct level is a second most basic step to keep your bike running swiftly.
Rejuvenate your saddle
Tarnished or plastic fabric saddle looking grey and old? This can be brought back to new with a bit of chain oil! This maintenance secret is mainly for aesthetic purposes, if for example you are hoping to sell that old bike that’s been in the shed for a few years. It will make the saddle look shiny and new.
First, dab some biodegradable chain lube onto a cloth – you probably don’t want petrochemicals on your rear. Wipe the oil all over the saddle fabric, applying more oil until the saddle is shiny. Wipe over again with a fresh rag to remove excess. It will go from a light dull grey, to a dark shiny black. This also works on aged tyres, though of course watch out loss of grip caused.
Nail those chips
If you want to cover scratches and chips on your frame, nail varnish can work a treat, protecting the metal underneath. It won’t look great, but that can be a good thing to stop the bike getting stolen! Old bottles of nail varnish can often be found at charity shops or Christmas boot sales very cheaply, and even come with their own brush.