How do I: Get my bike back ready for the road?


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The Independent Online

As any fair-weather cyclist will tell you, freezing temperatures and short days mean many bikes sit idle for much of December and January, but getting back on the road doesn't have to mean an expensive trip to the bike shop.

First, make sure you keep your bike clean, as most problems stem from a build-up of dirt and grease damaging components. Use warm, soapy water, an old cloth and a toothbrush with plenty of degreaser (from £6.99, on your chain and gears. Never use a pressure washer.

Most riders tend to neglect their chain and gears but all it takes is a few minutes to keep them flowing smoothly.

Keep your chain clear of mud, dirt and grease and lubricate it once a month with a "wet" Teflon-based gel such as Finish Line (from £6.99, Never use WD-40 as this will strip away any existing lubricant.

Remember to give your gears a squirt of lube when you tackle your chain. Pay close attention to your jockey wheels (small wheels in the chain cage of the rear mechanism) as these pick up hard-packed dirt from the chain. You may need to get in there with a small, soft-headed brush.

Tackling your wheels is a tougher job and may require expert help. If you hear a grinding or cracking noise when you spin your front wheel, get down the bike shop fast.

If you loathe punctures and are willing to splash out, consider investing in some specialised Armadillo tyres (£30 each, They're not cheap, but have thick treads, strong sidewalls and are made with Kevlar – the stuff they make body armour from – so won't leave you feeling deflated at the side of the road.

Visit Team GB's advice page at for further tips.