20 April 2017 0 Comments

The Extra Mile

Anyone who rides regularly will appreciate the service of a decent quality cycle mechanic to keep their trusty steed in fine fettle, and I am no different. I’m sure there are jobs that I could do on my bike, but I prefer to spend the time riding the thing. So apart from cleaning it (I’ll even clean the chain with my chain cleaning device occasionally) and lubricating it, I’ll leave most jobs to my trusted mechanic. This winter I’ve done more miles than usual in some pretty ropey weather and my 7 year old Kinesis KR810 was starting to complain: the headset was grinding and the brakes wouldn’t release. A couple of thousand kilometres on north Lancashire lanes had left her in a bit of a state.

Steve Smithson founded The Cycle Mechanic back in 2008 but it was only a tip off from a fellow COLT that put me onto him a few years ago. Since then I’ve plagued him with all manner of problems with my bikes but each time he has patiently and good naturedly resolve the issue. he works from his garage in Caton which is kitted out with a comprehensive set of tools for just about any conceivable bicycle related job. I detect a certain amount of obsession with tidiness and I resist the temptation to rearrange the tools every time I go around as I think that might result in blacklisting!

The remains of my headset

The Kinesis was definitely going to present Steve with a challenge. The easy bits were replacing the chain; the worn out jockey wheels on the rear derailleur; the gear cables and corroded cable adjusters and stripping down and cleaning the brakes. The headset proved to be the main problem. When Steve removed the forks most of the headset deposited itself on the workshop floor. The bits that wouldn’t come out were so corroded that Steve resorted to drilling them out before reassembling with a brand new headset. Needless to say, the bike rides like new and will be seen on the lanes around here for at least another season thanks to Steve’s tender ministrations.

I think the biggest challenge that I presented to Steve was my beautiful Reynolds DV3K carbon wheels. I bought these back in 2010 to equip the Kinesis for racing triathlons. They’ve done 2 Ironman races, countless halves and numerous sportives over the years, but a couple of seasons ago I broke a spoke near the end of the Weymouth Half Ironman putting the rear wheel significantly out of true. An inspection by a bike shop confirmed my worst suspicions: all the spoke nipples were seized rendering the wheels unserviceable. There I left it until I chatted to Steve about the issue. The problem was further compounded by the fact that my new Boardman race bike was 11 speed and although it came with some very nice aero wheels they were a good 500g heavier than my lovely Reynolds. After some searching, Steve sourced the necessary spokes and nipples and I purchased a new 11 speed freehub from Reynolds (£120!). Steve then carefully drilled out all the old nipples and effectively rebuilt the wheels as new with a complete set of new spokes. The total bill came to £300 including the freehub, but my Boardman now has a new set of lightweight aero wheels. A new pair of wheels of a similar spec would cost at least £2,000 these days.

Whatever your service needs I cannot recommend Steve at The Cycle Mechanic highly enough and his friendly and knowledgeable advice and skill has kept me on the roads.

Note: if you are a member of COLT you can see Steve in action in a couple of weeks time at our club’s cycle maintenance evening in Caton on May 3rd.

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