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Bicycle woes


I’ve been loving my bike ever since it was gifted to me: a black Specialized Allez on Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels. It goes like shit off a hot shovel, because it’s so lightweight (I think it clocks in at about 8kg unladen).

But the problem with being an amateur cyclist who’s never been particularly skilled at mechanics is that it was too easy to put off basic maintenance tasks until they were a bit too late.

Last week, I decided I’d replace the chain - easy enough, even a newbie like me can do it. But the problem was that I’d left it too long and the worn chain had then worn down the cassette (the set of cogs on the rear wheel). The wear is inevitable, especially with the mileage I do; by my estimate I cover a little over 4000 miles/6400km a year.

Then when changing the cassette, the shop I took it to mentioned that there was some wear on the bearings - the bits that help the wheel spin smoothly and stay true (straight). So I went to get them serviced, only to then be told that the whole hub on the rear is seized. So I’d either have to pay to get it all replaced (££££), or buy a new wheel (also ££££).

So, what should have been a quick-and-easy job to replace the chain has turned into an entirely new rear wheel and cassette, and cost me in the vicinity of £200. Wear on these parts is normal, and replacing them is inevitable, but I could have extended the life of these parts and saved a lot of money if I’d kept up with maintenance.

I’ve picked up a copy of Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance, and am going to commit to a minor maintenance routine (clean and frequent lubrication), with some bigger replacements more frequently. Hopefully this will save me money in the long run, and I’ll get better at bike repairs in general.

About the author

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I'm Lewis Dale, a software engineer and web developer based in the UK. I write about writing software, silly projects, and cycling. A lot of cycling. Too much, maybe.