Listen to your bike

Boy listening to his bike with a stethescopeDr Dolittle could talk to the animals and they would talk back. Your bike will talk to you and tell you what needs attention if you learn to hear what it’s saying.

A regular squeak every time you turn the pedals means “I have a dry chain”. Time to clean and lubricate it. Wipe off any excess lubricant so it doesn’t collect dirt and create problems again.

Hear that canary chirp when you change gears? That means “The bushes in my jockey wheels are dry.” This may need a visit to the bike shop because they need to be taken apart to grease them.

Rub-rub, rub-rub. It’s a soft plea: “Check that my wheels are true.” An out-of-true wheel wobbles and rubs on your brakes. There might be too much movement in the cones or you could have a loose spoke.

Ever heard a sharp ping followed by clack-clack? “Ouch, I’ve broken a spoke. Be careful of me.” You’ll make it home so long as you take it easy. Take your wheel to your bike shop for a replacement spoke. They’ll true the wheel at the same time.

Got a grinding noise when you pull on your brakes? They’re telling you: “I have grit in my brake blocks.” You can sometimes clean them down with a rag and methylated spirits, but it might be time to replace the brake blocks before you damage your wheel rims.

Your brakes are actually squealing? Your bike might be saying: “My brake pads are misaligned.” The whole pad is not coming into contact with the wheel smoothly. Depending on how badly worn they are, you might be able to realign them. You might have to replace them.

Never mind squealing; those brakes are screeching? If you have disc brakes they’re probably yelling: “My pads are glazed.” Careful sanding with a fine grade sandpaper might fix the problem. You might want to examine your braking technique too. Pulling those brakes on gently all the time could be causing the problem. The pads aren’t getting warm enough to “burn off” the glaze.

Rattle, clunk, rattle, clunk. Pay attention to where that sound is coming from. It’s most likely a water bottle cage, pump, light fitting or tool bag saying: “Tighten me up before I fall off.”

Clatter, clatter? That could be your tools rattling around in their bag. Wrap them tightly in a rag to keep them quiet and safe from damage.

See you on the road soon, God willing.

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