I would like to dedicate this post to sharing our bike maintenance happenings and the feelings that accompany them.
It all starts of course with the feeling of excitement upon purchasing of the bike of your dreams, the bike that's going to take you places you've always dreamed of and places you've never dreamt of. For me, my lovely 28 pound KHS touring bike is perfect.
From there the feeling of unity with my bike grew as I repaired the crap out of it. Extrapolation below.
Every 3 days, tighten all of your bolts and screws and add a few drops of lube!
...It has been all to often Melanie and I have looked around to find the source of some rattling, or pondered why the entire back rack with 3 loaded bags on it is dragging behind the bike at 35 km/hr.
The source of course has been due to missing bolts and screws. Tighten these little dudes often to prevent the terror of your bike imploding down a hill at 60 km/hr.
Of course, like anything, when the squeaking sets in you need to wipe that puppy down then lube that puppy up. Three drops every day or two should do, and apply after rain.
As you learn which bolts need tightening and which take the most stress, you are one step closer to becoming one with your bike.
Every 2000 km check your chain for stretch and break pads for wear. You may want to replace both.
...Being able to see the damage I did to my bike over thousands of km was very satisfying. The thought "I just peddled so much I'm wearing out metal" had crossed my mind around Regina SK, and has only gotten more supporting evidence since then.
As the good people in Algonquin Outfitters in my hometown Huntsville Ontario once told me: "Your chain is the cheapest part on your bike. Replacing it more frequently than not will ensure your bikes longevity. It will also be financially beneficial when you don't have to replace your expensive components because of an old chain."
Replacing the chain and break pads every so often costs about $50 every 2000 km, but the satisfaction described above is well worth it.
At around 4000 km, you want to switch your front and back tires. The back tire takes a lot more wear than the front tire.
My back tire has more weight over it and is where my acceleration is coming from, so it undergoes more wear. I switched them to maintain balance between the tires.
Balance is a key element of feeling one with your bike. From tires to pannier weight, from front-to-back to side-to-side; if balance is always maintained then it becomes much easier to feel when something is off on your bike or is damaged. This has two great benefits: it can lead to sooner repairs for your bike and ensures less stress on one side of your body (ie. Less chance of injury).
Ps. The only good tire for bike touring is the "Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tire" - don't think about it, just buy them for your trip. I have heard countless accounts of bikers riding across Canada without a single flat. Melanie and I are on our way there as neither of us have had one yet. Everyone that we have seen along the way that has toured before and knows what they are doing has these exact tires.
Get your wheel 'trued' every 2000 km minimum, especially if your carrying at least 50 lbs on the back of your bike.
... On the side of the road in a heat wave with little water about 400 km from Thunder Bay, I heard a loud pop and my back wheel was rubbing on the breaks and wobbly. A spoke was broken upon further investigation. Learning how to true my wheel by replacing and tightening my spokes was the most satisfying thing I've done with my bike this trip. I used my breaks to true my wheel in a matter of a few minutes, learning as I used the spoke tool for the first time ever. When I rolled into Thunder Bay 3 days later, I told my bike I loved it for the first time. It responded with a shimmer and a bell ding similar to ending of a Sleep Country Canada commercial.
Road side repairs and tentside adjustments should not be feared just as foreplay with your partner should not be feared: they are both leading to something great.
And now, it's time to bike.
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