winter maintenance and upgrades

It won’t be long before winter weather sets in and the time spent on my road bike begins to wane. Road conditions and seasonal elements require more weight, wider tires, fenders, lights, and lower gearing — characteristics that far better describe my commuter than my road bike. So I’m thinking it might be a good opportunity to perform some of the more extensive maintenance tasks required after accumulating a hefty pile of miles, and that too easily get pushed aside during the height of the riding season. And so long as the bike’s on the work-stand, it seems like a good occasion to make some upgrades, too.

I’m hoping my local bike shop will offer some do-it-yourself maintenance classes. I’ve spoken with them about this, and they appear to have taken it under advisement. Failing that, with a little luck, I’ll get in good enough with the owner and the mechanic that I can just drop by, hang out in the back room, and pick up a few things.We’ll see. Either way, some work needs to be done, and here’s what I’m thinking…

First, maintenance. I need new brake pads, new tires, and new bar tape. It might be time also for new cleats; I need to ask someone about that. Hopefully, the pedals are OK. I’ll need to have the wheels checked for trueness, and the chain checked for wear and stretch. Everything needs deep cleaned and thoroughly lubricated. The bike has a little over 2,000 miles on it. Is anything else required at this point?

Next, upgrades. I’m wondering what common upgrades are on a bike like mine and/or at my level of riding (i.e., what the editors of Bicycling Magazine describe as “recreational road“)? I think I have a terrific component group. Other than possibly replacing a shift/brake lever scraped up in a spill (provided that isn’t too expensive to do, given that we’re only talking about cosmetics), I’m not much inclined to change anything else.

Wheels: Some of you will recall that I recently had a problem with my rear hub. It turns out that the bearings on my stock wheel are not sealed. So the thought of upgrading my wheels has crossed my mind. Here’s what I want to know: aside from sealed bearings, what else will upgraded wheels offer me? Also, how much should I anticipate spending to make a meaningful upgrade? In other words, is this worth doing?

Saddle: I want to replace my stock saddle with something better. But how does one go about getting a better saddle given the time it takes to properly break in and test a new seat? Bicycling recently had a good piece on saddles that offers some good places to start, but I’m wondering if anyone else has any suggestions.

What other sorts of upgrades do people make, or are worth making, on a bike at this level?

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4 responses to “winter maintenance and upgrades

  1. Ah, winter. The very thought has me pretty bummed already – and autumn hasn’t even dumped a load of leaves in my yard yet. I was just saying to someone today that I think I need to find a bike-related project for over the winter time. I think I’m going to build a bike (a first for myself). My husband is a great bike mechanic but I think he could rub off on me a little bit so I can claim to know my way around a bike more than just the riding part. I think I’m going to build 20″ (BMX) bike while the snow’s flying this year.

  2. Will do. So far looks like it will be a PK Ripper.