Road Cycling

5 Things That Could Be Slowing Your Bike Down

Quick fixes if the spark between you and your bike has gone

When you get a new bike, it feels awesome – you fall in love with its beautiful sleek body, spend all your spare minutes in its company, let it sleep on your bed (no? too far?).

And then in time, the glow begins to ebb – gradually the love dissipates a little and you start to look elsewhere. Your riding buddies have lighter frames, quicker shifting…

Could you and your bike be losing the spark you once had? Never fear, it might not be the bike itself, it may just need a little TLC. Here are some of the signs your bike is slowing you down, and what you can do about it.

Bottom Bracket Wobble

Did you once feel a strong push with every pedal stroke, which propelled your forward? Has it now been replaced with a sort of rocking between your legs, and a faint knocking sound?

The bottom bracket sits in the frame – the pedals (and cranks) revolve around it. Over time, the bearings inside it will become worn. No bottom bracket lasts forever, eventually, you’ll need to replace it.

How often the bottom bracket needs replacing will depend upon your mileage, but when pedalling starts to begin to feel rough and laboured, it’s usually the first sign. Next, you’ll hear an unhealthy crunching. Finally, when it really needs doing, you’ll be able to hold on to one crank and make the whole unit wiggle.

The good news is, once you replace the bottom bracket, your bike will feel amazing!

Draggy tyres and punctures

Shoes make a big difference to an outfit, right? Tyres are shoes for your bike. The same way killer heels can transform a boring work smock into a little black dress, quality tyres can turn a slow and ambling bike into a machine of beauty.

Firstly, old tyres will be weak and may have nicks in the rubber – that means punctures. If your rubber has rips – replace it.

Everything you need to know about bicycle tyres

Fast tyres, on a road bike, have low rolling resistance – they’ll be folding tyres that come rolled up when you buy them, made from a flexible rubber compound, and will have a high TPI – thread per inch – count.

On a mountain bike, the right tyres really depend upon where you’ll be riding and the conditions. You want faster rolling on dry terrain, whilst grip is your number one concern in the wet.

The right tyres could turn your bike around – give it a go!

Gears that won’t budge

Getting to the brow of a hill ahead of your mates, only to find when you click up to put the final power strokes down, nothing happens? Finding you can’t click down when you need to?

How to use your gears efficiently

Gears that don’t work can have a number of causes. Firstly, it could be as simple as the gears needing indexing – that can take a few twiddles to the front or rear mech. If that doesn’t work, it could be that the gear cables are old and frayed – in which case, new cables will set you back less than £20 for a full set.

After that, you might need to start looking for wear on the chain and cassette – this does happen over time, though it happens less quickly if you clean and lubes the drive chain frequently. In this case, pop the bike into your local bike shop to pick up the necessary parts, and you might be riding home on a machine that feels brand new!

Outgrown your wheels

Unless you’re spending big bucks, most bikes come with fairly entry level wheels. It’s understood that these will feel great initially, but that more serious riders will likely want to upgrade them in time.

Wheels make a huge difference to the quality of your ride. Lighter wheels will lop a huge chunk off the overall weight of the bike, deep rims will speed you up no end with their aerodynamic benefits, and a great set of hubs will be responsive and fast rolling.

If you want an upgrade for your bike that will make a big difference without you having to buy a new frame, then wheels are the way to go – check out our buying guide here.

Sitting uncomfortably

Don’t feel right on your bike? Keep suffering from aches and pains?

Even if you haven’t touched your bike set up for years, you can find that increased or decreased flexibility over time can mean they your set-up isn’t spot on anymore.

How to get the most from your bike fit

Incorrect bike fit can lead to all sorts of problems – knee pain, hip pain, back pain, wrist pain. A lot of these can be fixed with a good bike fit. Check out some of the most common complaints and their fixes here

Got all of those covered? Ok – well – maybe you can look at a new bike!

You may also enjoy:

 How to master clipping in on the bike

How do I know when my brake pads need replacing?

Road cycling etiquette for riding in a pack

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