The joys of getting your bike serviced for spring

Forest trails are more fun when your bike is working properly

Buying a shiny new bike is one thing, but what about keeping it in tip-top condition? Fact is, many people don’t have the time, or inclination, to learn even basic mechanical skills, and so when a bike loses its initial slick operation it simply sits in the shed, slipping ever further down the to-do list.

I’m certainly guilty of falling into that trap, with what was not so long ago a very good full suspension Giant Trance mountain bike languishing unused for well over a year. Then I looked at my winter waistline and decided enough was enough.

After a failed attempt to fix anything other than a punctured inner tube, I admitted defeat and booked the bike into my local Halfords where a chap called Liam placed it on a stand and went through what he called an M-check.

This involved assessing what level of work the bike would require, be it the cheaper bronze, the more in-depth silver or the comprehensive gold.  In the end it required enough attention to be worth going through the full gold service, at £80.

The list of what this involves is too long to include here, but suffice to say it was thorough. The work was completed within 24 hours at a total cost of £208.80, which included the service plus a new Shimano chain, Avid Elixir brake pads and brake bleeds, among other things.

All that was left now was the hard bit: riding it. The good news is the bike felt like new. Unfortunately my legs didn’t. Perhaps heading up over the North Downs Way via the savage ascent that is Reigate Hill was a touch ambitious for my first time back in the saddle. It didn’t help that I was riding with a friend who took great pride in attacking every ascent to see if he could cement his place on the Strava leaderboard. 

If the uphills weren’t much fun, the downhills were occasionally terrifying, the mud sticky as a result of recent rain and the gulleys seeming to have doubled in size since I last took to the North Downs. 

I did, however, hugely enjoy the flat sections, particularly when the sun broke through the cloud cover, bathing Surrey in a warm winter glow.  More than anything I found great satisfaction in the fact that everything worked, from the powerful brakes to the lack of slip from the gears, and the way the suspension soaked up the worst of the ruts and rocks on the rare occasions I was brave enough to gain some meaningful speed. 

All in all it served as a reminder of just how much fun cycling can be – whether it’s on a brand new bike, or an old one that’s just been fixed.