Bike tune-up before or after winter dormancy?
October 10, 2011 7:14 AM   Subscribe

Thorough bicycle tuneup: before putting bike into winter hibernation, or first thing next spring? Any difference?

I have a road bike (Aluminum frame. Raleigh Technium 440, if it matters) that will continue to be ridden daily through October; will be ridden 3x/week in November/December; and will likely be stored (inside) for January and February.

While I perform basic maintenance/cleaning at regular intervals, I've never sprung for the thorough, professional, strip-down-and-clean tuneup at the local bike shop. I'd like to get that done. My question is if there is any advantage to doing it before putting it up for the winter v. first thing next spring.

If I've omitted anything I can try to provide any info; thanks for your help and expertise.
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'd do it at the beginning of winter, if only because bike shops tend to get swamped on the first warm weekend of spring. Do it a little before the absolute end of the biking season so you can ride for a few days after the tuneup -- there's a lot of things that could be thrown "off" or outright screwed up by a tuneup (even at the best bike shops!) and I'd bet even odds you'll want to bring your bike in again and have them adjust something.
posted by theodolite at 7:30 AM on October 10, 2011

I'd do it next spring. If you're storing it inside, there's little that will go wrong with it from just sitting for a short period of time. A little bit of dust on the chain, sticking to the lubricant. But still, no sense getting your bike all shined up when it's just going to sit for months.

A thorough stip-down can be useful, but the real benefit would come from some additional purchases - new chainrings, cogs, chain, and cables and housing. Maybe brake pads, too, and tires and handlebar tape if you need 'em.

Most thorough strip-downs will re-grease your bottom bracket (the bearing assembly that your cranks spin on) and your headset (the bearings that connect your fork/handlebar system to your frame), and replace your cables. But a cable replacement really gets value from new, clean, well-lubricated cable housings; and like i said above, a drivetrain replacement ( the chainrings, cogs, and chain mentioned above) would really improve the functioning.

i say that because if you're riding a raleigh technium, chances are decent that it's got old, well-used cogs and chain. and over time, chains wear to the point where they "stretch" - actually the bushings connecting the plates wear, so 24 half-inch links of chain wind up being over a foot long - this causes the chain to mesh poorly with the teeth on the rings and cogs, which can also wear and lead to noise, inefficiency, and poor shifting.
posted by entropone at 7:31 AM on October 10, 2011

As long as you're storing it somewhere dry for the winter, it really won't make any difference either way. If you're storing it in a leaky garden shed or something, then I'd wait until spring.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:50 AM on October 10, 2011

I'd do it at the beginning of winter, if only because bike shops tend to get swamped on the first warm weekend of spring.

This. Every year I get stuck with a non-tuned up bike when I get back on the roads in the spring because I didn't have it tuned up before the season started again. As long as you keep it lubricated and have the means to pump your tires again, this will at least get you through the huge rush at the beginning of spring.

Either that, or make an appointment with a bike shop in early spring to have your bike tuned up so that you're not without it for too long.
posted by urbanlenny at 9:13 AM on October 11, 2011

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