Sometimes we love our bikes so much that we’re in denial that they’re getting old and worn. We’ve been through thick and thin with them, and we want to squeeze out every last mile before spending a fortune replacing different bits. Making an old bike feel new isn’t as difficult as you might think.
Get rid of some of the creaks and groans, the things you’ve learned to put up with and inject some life into the old dog. It might not work like it did when you bought it, but you might not need to break the bank to buy a shiny new toy just yet.
Renew The Contact
The contact points are you bike are what you use the most. People often jump straight to the bar tape or grips as the first things to change – but it can definitely be worth looking elsewhere.
Changing the pedals can have a huge impact on the way the ride feels. The pedal stroke will feel smoother, easier and it can help avoid injuries in your hip & knee. Some types of pedals can also be serviced to save you buying a completely new pair!
If you’re using cleats this can also be a great change. Bet you haven’t checked the wear indicator on them for a while! But make sure you change to cleats with the same amount of float (often indicated by the same colour) so this doesn’t cause issues elsewhere.
Sometimes the foam on your saddle can get very worn causing a lot of discomfort. So this can be another place to look to swap to make the bike feel new again. There are now endless saddles to choose from, so changing to something similar is often the best option to make the bike feel new again.
Work On The Drive Train
A worn chain can feel sluggish and hard to ride. Combine this with a dirty, used drivetrain and you could be throwing away a lot of energy. A new chain is a cheaper way to sort this out.
That’s if you’ve caught it early enough to get away with a new chain without it jumping about all over the place. In which case you’ll also need a new cassette. If you’re changing the cassette you could get away with changing your 11-28T for an 11-30T or even 11-32T, it’ll make the climbs easier that’s for sure. Well you’ve done the hard work in wearing them out, time to upgrade, customise and see the rewards!
Give It A Clean
The most hated of all jobs. But a thorough clean can get rid of a lot of the squeaks that you’re encountering on the daily ride. When was the last time you gave it a good wash? And we don’t mean just wipe off a bit of dirt. Making sure the bike is in full whistle clean working order can save you money down the road, you’d certainly be able to wait a lot longer before fixing up the drive train. A good scrub as well as some Fenwick’s Foaming Chain cleaner to clean it all up, it’ll feel good as new.
Swap The Bearings
Though you can’t see them, the bearings are doing a lot of work for you. But don’t be scared, most modern bikes used sealed bearings so they can be replaced easily.
These will wear much quicker if you ride in wet or hot conditions, water or salt water (sweat) will cause excessive wear. They often sound or feel crunchy and won’t move quite as easy as when you got the bike. You’ll be amazed at how new bearings can make a bike feel.
Headset bearings are usually easier to replace than bottom bracket or hub bearings. Often you’ll just need to undo a few bolts with a hex key and you’ll be on your way. You can stop these from wearing as fast by putting in some fresh grease every few months.
The bottom bracket will feel rough or clunky when the bearings go – and over time it’ll begin to creak. These can be more difficult to change, and if it’s a press-fit system that isn’t currently causing issues, it’s best to leave it be. But if you’ve got the crank off, best to take it out and give it a good clean as well as using some grease or anti-seaze to keep it smooth.
Change The Cables
One of the cheaper fixes, changing cables can make breaking and changing gear feel like a whole new thing. If your shifting just won’t run smoothly despite endless hours spent indexing the bike, then it’s likely it’ll need some new cables.
It’s often the gear cables that get stretched or worn, so changing these will have a big impact. If you’ve got electronic gears you won’t have to worry about this kind of issue. Changing the inner and outer cable is worth looking into for mechanical group sets, and changing your brake cables every 3-5 times with that.
Replace Your Tyres
When was the last time you changed the tyres on your bike? Bald points, reduced grip, small cuts? Maybe you’ve been getting a lot of flat tyres recently.
Each tyre should have a wear mark for when it needs replacing, but if you’ve been ignoring the signs then it’s worth giving them a good inspection. The rubber gets hard over time, so a soft set can make your bike roll as good as new.
As more and more road cyclists move to fatter tyres, it could be worth trying a 28c or a 30c if your frame has enough clearance for the job. This trend is being echoed in the MTB world.
Changing the tyre and checking the tubes are right can be great. If you’re running tubeless tyres then this is even better, making sure you haven’t run them into the ground can save you a tear in the future. Even though they’re less likely to flat, they’re not immune to wear.
Hopefully you’ve found something that can make your bike feel new again – though we’ll always get behind buying a new one for many more adventures!