Banish bike breakdowns
End your relationship with mechanical failures by making a regular date in your garage
1 Snapped cables
A simple failure, but enough to strand or endanger you if it happens at the wrong time. It’s easy to ward off, too: ensuring cables are properly lubed is the important first step. A simple clampon cable oiler will allow you to spray an aerosol can with a straw in to the cable. Use a light oil spray, or a graphite lubricant. Don’t use water-dispersing sprays – they’re not thick enough to provide lasting lubriciation.
2 Knackered chains
At up to £150 for a final drive kit, there’s a financial incentive in looking after your chain – not to mention the big bills associated with a flailing chain damaging your bike, or even causing a crash. In dry conditions, thoroughly clean and lubricate chains every 400500 miles. Halve that distance in the wet. Precise alignment aids life too – visit the MCN website for details on how to do it.
3 Seized bearings
All the time and money that goes in to bike development has to be made up somewhere – like using a thin veneer of grease in bearings. Unless you have reason to believe your bike has ever had its chassis bearings looked at, take a weekend to attend to them. A tub of lithium grease applied as liberally as you can to these areas will help keep water out and ensure a longer life.
4 Wiring loom failures
Most electrical grief can be traced to poor connections or earthing. If current can’t flow cleanly, it causes issues. Before your loom runs in to problems, take the time to unplug, clean and treat connectors with dielectric grease – both where the terminals meet, and also in the back of connector blocks to help reduce oxidisation on bare cable ends.
5 Known issues
No manufacturer is perfect when it comes to reliability. Many models suffer with a particular problem – often the cause is simple, but resultant damage can cost hundreds or thousands in repairs – not to mention the danger and inconvenience. So get to know your bike – find out what the gremlins are, what causes them, and how you can prevent them.
6 Worn tyres/tyre problems
No tyre lasts forever, but you can help get the most life from them. From the start, buy the right tyre. If you do a lot of dual-carriageway miles, get a sports-touring tyre. If you mix road and track work you need a tyre to suit. Tyre pressures are critical – too high or low will affect the way the tyre grips and wears. Set pressures according the tyre manufacturer.
7 Poor braking
Brakes are simple items but can often cause big problems. Sticking calipers, warped discs and lacklustre performance are easily prevented. A caliper clean every 2000 miles or so is enough to prevent dirt and corrosion taking root in your brakes. Pistons struggling to move can cause uneven pad wear, or overheating discs/pads/fluid.
8 Scruffy bodywork
A tatty bike isn’t dangerous, but it detracts from resale value (as well as your pride in the bike) and can be hard to reverse. Storing under a decent cover, even inside, protects it from foreign objects and UV light. Regular cleaning removes dust, bugs and other nasties slowly taking the shine off, and a decent polish adds a protective layer that looks great too.
9 Broken fittings
Broken panel lugs are common – yet easy to fix. Don’t force panels if you don’t know how they come out. Secondly, keep the rubber grommets lubed – silicone or red rubber grease won’t degrade them. Keep on top of problem fasteners, especially on bikes used through winter – making sure areas that take a hammered are appropriately protected with copper grease.
‘Hello, is that the AA? I think I’ve twangled my powervalve grommet in my woodruff key’
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