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5 easy steps to make your components last longer

We spoke to Lennard Zinn, the author of Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance, about increasing the lifespan of the components on your bike.



There may be a couple of easy things you can do to make your components last longer. Whether you are constantly wearing out your chains, break pads or chainrings some proper maintenance can help get more kilometres out of your components. When you ride your bike in bad conditions or put in big kilometres here are some easy strategies you can use that will help save you money and the need to constantly be replacing parts on your bike. Not to say you will never have to replace any of your components again but might as well try and get the most out of them.

>>Here is an easy 8-step spring bike tune up

1. When you ride in nasty conditions, wash your bike

When you ride in wet or dirty conditions a lot of road grit will get on your bike. If you don’t rinse all this grit off you are needlessly wearing down many different components on your bike. So pull out that garden hose or throw your bike in the shower and rinse all that gunk off before putting it away, even if you are wet and cold. Zinn said a proper bike cleaning will also make it easier to identify any other problems that might need fixing.

2. Frequently clean your brake pads and wipe down your wheels

If you find yourself needing to replace your brake pads often or you notice your rims are getting worn out, you may not be properly removing all the grit after you ride. Loosen up the pads and scrap any grit that may be stuck on them off with a screwdriver or thoroughly wipe them down with a rag. You will still need to replace the brake pads but this should extend their life. “Inspect the brake pads at their wear indicator lines. Replace the pads if they’re getting thin,” said Zinn.

3. Check your chain for wear and replace it if needed

“Check the chain length with a chain-checker tool before you do anything else and replace it if it’s worn out,” said Zinn. If you ride too long with a stretched chain, you risk wearing out your chainrings and cassette, which will mean you’ll need to replace them sooner than you should have to otherwise. Save yourself the hassle, get a chain tool and get in the habit of checking chain wear, it can save your components and your wallet.

4. Clean and grease the bearings in your bottom bracket, headset and your derailleur jockey wheels

It may not be the first thing you think of but bearings do get worn and by cleaning and greasing them you can extend their life. Zinn said, “Overhaul the derailleur jockey wheel bushings and seals. If you are using cartridge-bearing jockey wheels, check for smooth action and regrease after removing the bearing covers.” You should also clean and lubricate your bottom bracket bearings along with your headset to extend their life. Doing this can keep everything moving smoothly which means less friction and less wear.

>> How to tune up you headset

5. Clean your drivetrain

Finally, it’s really important to thoroughly clean your drivetrain. Whether after riding in bad whether or periodically throughout the season. Your cassette, chainrings and chain will all get extra kilometres if they are well cleaned and properly greased. Here is how to properly clean your drivetrain:

a. Remove your rear wheel and but a dowel rod or chain keeper to hold the chain in place

Remove your rear wheel and but a dowel rod or chain keeper to hold the chain in place.

b. Wipe down the jockey wheels with a rag and use a chain cleaner and degreaser to thoroughly clean the chain

Zinn chain cleaning maintenance

c. Clean the cassette and chainrings with a rag and some degreaser

cassette clean

d. Use oil or lube on the chain. After 10 to 15-minutes wipe off excesses with a rag.


For more information about the procedures necessary to undertake a full tune-up, look for the fifth edition of Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance in bookstores or online. It is a comprehensive step-by-step guide that will help you get the job done right and is available for purchase for US$26.95.

Zinn bike maintenance