Stolen wheels and don’t forget the rim tape


Last weekend, I was talking to a friend how my commuting bike was 18 years old. I bought the Trek second-hand in 2000. 18 years is pretty good when you consider bike theft rates in the UK. Because I’ve had it so long and because it’s not worth too much, I can use without excess fear of getting stolen. The lock I use in town is not flimsy, but it’s not indestructible.


For quite a few years, I researched new commuting bikes (they made nice review pages on But, when it came to it I never got round to buying a new bike. Fear of being stolen was a strong factor in sticking with an old second-hand bike. It is not just the fear of being stolen but also peace of mind. If you have an old banger, you don’t worry so much about leaving it around town.

Anyway, I got back home, from a brief trip to Yorkshire to find the bike locked up outside my house had had its wheels stolen. The bike was still there – secured by a strong lock. But, it was surprisingly expensive to buy a new set of wheels. I could almost have bought a new complete bike. When wheels get stolen, you have to buy.

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If all else fails – read the manual

Many consumer goods these days are designed to work straight from the box. It can make us reluctant to read manuals, assuming we can work it out on the fly. This is often a good quick approach, but not always the case with bike maintenance, where small errors can  have big effects.

Quark Power meter reading calibration error

At the weekend, my Quark Elsa started giving exaggerated power meter readings. I’ve had for two years, and although it has died twice (and Quark sent replacement). It has been pretty consistent in power meter reading, which is main thing for a power meter. So higher power and calibration errors was disconcerting.

I realised it may have been affected by switch from double chainring to single chainring set up. I looked up Quark Power meter calibration and found advice that after change of chain rings, you may need to recalibrate 4-5 times.

This proved correct, after 4 attempts at calibration, it finally calibrated correctly. It was tempting to give up after two or three attempts, but reading manual encouraged me to try and again. Simple solution.

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Lifeline Professional Workstand – Review


After years of prevaricating, I got around to buying a Workstand to be able to work on my bike. I was reluctant to buy a work stand because:

  • I’m not very good at bike maintenance and tend to prefer to take it into bike shops. I was reluctant to purchase when with many jobs it’s easier to take into a shop.
  • I don’t have much space in my conservatory. I have so many bikes, there isn’t really room for a work stand.

On the other hand, I thought buying a workstand may have the following benefits:

  • It may make me better at bike maintenance – it’s hard enough adjusting gears without using one hand to hold bike up and the other hand to adjust gears.
  • It’s inconvenient having to take bike to a bikeshop all the time.
  • It might make it easier to clean the bike.

After looking online at different options, I choose the Lifeline Professional Workstand from Wiggle.  It had the following advantages

  • At £72 it seemed quite cheap. I didn’t want to get a higher end workstand, when I wasn’t sure how much I would use it.
  • It could be folded up quite small and conveniently put away in a corner.
  • It had reasonably good reviews.

How to set up

To set up, it was fairly quick and intuitive, there are a couple of quick release levers which can quite quickly move the stand from compact to set up.


Quite easy to set up.

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Bike maintenance – Checking headset


My early spring bike service and headset maintenance – what to look out for and how to fix problems.

There has been a lot of salty water on the roads this winter. It’s not been the coldest winter, but it has been dipping below freezing enough for the roads to be salted and then wet. The result is bikes ridden through the winter will have taken a battering. Everywhere in Oxford I see rusty chains – a sure sign of riding through winter salted roads. I keep using TF2 chain lube, but even regular squirts can’t stop minor rusting.


Ideally, I would leave a bike service for another month (when hopefully the salting of the roads would finish), but the commuting bike has been driven into the ground so it was time to get another service from Sherwood Mobile Bike Mechanics.

I bought a new chain and cassette for Andy to put on. I thought the brake cable had gone, but actually it was the rear brake frozen up, due to rust. Andy cleaned the brake and regreased and changed the most worn components.

I’m not too fussy about the commuting bike, but Andy felt the headset needed attention. I haven’t pain any attention to headset maintenance and have never really understood headsets – so I got Andy to write his tips for headset wear towards the end of the post. In the end it was quite a lengthy service, but that is inevitable when you cycle on it so much during the winter.

After the service the bike runs like a completely different bike!


I keep a tight chain because I have a single ring and no front mech to stop chain dropping off.

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