Although your bottom bracket may not need to be serviced all the time like other major working components of your bike, it is a key component that NEEDS to be running smoothly to have a more enjoyable ride.
Many bottom brackets today are threaded for easy replacement or servicing like we are discussing here. This component consists of 2 bearings on both sides close to your crank arms, which then the cranks extend through and connect. They are sealed, but this doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t benefit from a good service every six months or so (depending on the extent of riding you normally do through a season). If you are finding any creaking or grinding during your ride, especially any back and forth, this is a great signal to get your bottom bracket replaced or serviced.
We HIGHLY recommend this being done by a bike mechanic as special tools and techniques will be needed to properly service this key area of your bike. After a good inner clean and/or proper greasing, you will feel a major difference and smooth rotations in your hand bike or recumbent trike for the season ahead.
Cables & Housings
Make sure you take a good look all around your cable routing and the condition they are in. Find these problems now before you set out for that first spring ride. Cracked cable housings lead to moisture and other contaminants building up inside those housings. From this, inner cables become fragile.
They can snap easily under stress or encounter a very hard time shifting and dialing in your gear index for smooth flawless shifting. Additionally, for those trikes and handcycles with mechanical cable braking, the same applies here. Make sure these areas are well looked after all season long.
On handcycles, common areas we find cable housings being chewed up are near your chainrings and where cables can commonly rub overtime during hand crank rotations. For recumbent cyclists, we mainly see housings needing to be replaced near front wheels due to cable rub on tires when turning. Another common area for recumbents is that fold near the breaking and pivot point on the frame. Be sure to look over these key areas to save yourself some trouble on the road!
A well-serviced chain is a must if you want to ensure your trike or hand bike is up for the ride. One common mistake we see in our service department are chains are heavily damaged from lack of simple maintenance and cleaning. Chains are designed to last for a good amount of time. Links often break due to improper lubrication and cleaning after a ride. Get into the habit of wiping down your chain after each ride.
Companies like Park Tool as well as many others sell a great chain cleaning kit to start, which will help with the life and performance of your chain. ALWAYS make sure you are lubricating your chain after! There are different styles for common conditions you find yourself riding in like wet or dry chain lubricants. Be sure to find which one best suits your needs and give your chain some love after your ride!
Now is a great time to get your tires and tubes swapped out if you find any significant wear and tear from the previous year of riding. Take a good look at all three of your tires because let’s face it, no one likes to get a flat out on the road. Road tires will tend to find wear down faster than off-road tires but hey, you could also be a very aggressive rider on the trails!
If you’re someone that had their trike or handbike sitting for months during winter, it is possible that air has condensed and your wheels have been sitting on a flat spot. After a while, the bead or sidewalls can become damaged due to poor inflation and may need to be replaced. This should be done before additional damage occurs. Take some time examining your tires now or replace them with fresh rubber so it’s not a hassle during the peak riding season.
Brake Pad Examination
Possibly the most important step to consider is looking over your brake pads. This is to ensure you can stop quickly and with confidence when needed. Depending on your brake setup, whether it be drum brake shoes, disc brake pads, or V-clamp rubbers, all should be replaced when experiencing bad braking.
Common signs to tell if your brakes need to be serviced are usually easy to determine. If your brake levers are becoming spongy and you feel no immediate grab, this could very well be a sign to replace. Another sign could be your disc brakes and pads are howling. Oil is the brake pad’s worst enemy so be VERY careful when servicing at home.