Optimising your Campagnolo gear and bike through the winter months requires some simple bike-maintenance jobs. Here’s what you need to know.
Winter might be the season of showers, sleet and snow but it’s also the time where you lay your foundations for a successful year of cycling.
That’s whether you’re a professional like UAE Team Emirates’ uber-sprinter Fernando Gaviria, who uses Campagnolo’s premium and fast Bora Ultra WTO wheelset and Super Record EPS, or a keen recreational rider aiming to maximise their Campagnolo Ekar 13-speed groupset and Shamal wheelset at this year’s SBT Gravel in Colorado, US, on 14 August.
You and your beloved equipment will make great progress through the rough weather, but only if you ensure everything is in optimum condition by ticking off a number of bike-maintenance jobs.
They’re essential but, thankfully, pretty simple.
GUARD AGAINST THE ELEMENTS
Wet roads + rotating wheels = muddy water flicking up onto you and your Campagnolo clothing. The result? You’re a dirty mess. Mudguards are the surest way to prevent this uncool and uncomfortable look and, especially for commutes, they’re a no-brainer.
There are two main types of mudguard: those for frames that feature mudguard eyelets called ‘fixed mudguards’ and those for frames without, called ‘clip-on mudguards’.
An example of the latter is the excellent and affordable Ekar Gravel mudguard.
When it comes to cleaning your Campagnolo drivetrain, ideally you’ll have a workstand to lift it off the ground as you’ll need to remove your rear wheel. Or you can improvise by flipping your bike upside down.
But a workstand is best. After removing the rear wheel, use an old rag to clear dirt from the jockey wheels and chainrings, before clutching the chain beneath the chainstay and rotating the crank backwards to remove loose dirt and oil.
Apply degreaser, avoiding the cables, and then using a brush with stiff bristles, really get into the chain, chainrings, jockey wheels and the inside of the derailleur plates.
Rinse, followed by using a brush or rag to remove loose grime from the sprockets. Apply degreaser before using a long-bristle brush to go deep in-between the sprockets.
Then wash the cassette with bike cleaner, rinse off, before using bike cleaner and a clean sponge to clean your frame and components.
Dry with a lint-free cloth. Reattach rear wheel. You’re ready to ride.
GET INTO GEAR
Another way to extend the life of your drivetrain, as well as improve your cycling performance, is to use the full range of gears when out for your long ride, commute or even indoor session.
The pressure on your drivetrain will be evenly spread, while the correct gear for the terrain and wind conditions will maintain a straighter chain-line, and so again reduce wear and tear on your components.
Disc brakes are on the rise. As are the amount of wheelsets coming as disc-specific.
Take Campagnolo’s Shamal carbon disc-brake wheel, regarded as the complete all-rounder that’s equally comfortable on gravel as it is the road. It’s fast. Very fast.
But at some point you need to scrub the speed and slow down. Which becomes more erratic if your brake pads are worn. So how you do you go about changing the pads?
Thankfully, it’s a pretty easy task.
Remove the circlip and unscrew the pad pin. Then remove the old pads.
Remove the circlip and unscrew the pad pinyou have it or fresh water if you don’t.
But do not use motorcycle or car disc-brake cleaner as it leaves a residue. Fit the fresh pads, keeping them apart with the wishbone spring before screwing the pad pin into place and installing the circlip.
Now refit the wheel, and bed them in by rolling along at about 15kmh/10mph and bringing the bike nearly to a stop with firm braking.
Gradually increase speed and braking force over four or five runs until you feel the brake reach full power.
Finally, to keep your Campagnolo gear running smooth and fast, you must select the right lubricant for the conditions. Broadly, lubricants are split into three categories: wet lubes, dry lubes and all-rounder lubes.
If it’s wet and dirty, a wet lube’s best as it’s thicker than dry lube so lasts longer because it’s much less prone to being washed off. The downside is it attracts dirt and grime, and isn’t as ‘drivetrain efficient’ as the dry lube.
The dry lube is less viscous, so more efficient. It’s less useful in a downpour, though, as it’s more easily washed off. An all-rounder, as the name suggests, sits in-between the two.
Whichever you choose, if you have disc brakes just ensure the lube doesn’t hit the rotors as this can impair performance.
Hands up – bike maintenance isn’t the most appealing part of your cycling journey. But it’s swiftly done and is essential to reach your goals!