Winter has arrived and with it the unique pleasures of riding to and from work in the dark, cold feet (less of an issue these days after giving in to ‘Toe Thingy’s’ and clown shoes) and a bike that routinely gets coated in filth even when it’s not raining. On top of all this my hitherto perfectly functioning road bike suffered its first glitch when the Di2 battery was unable to hold a charge much longer than 48 hours instead of the usual 6 months or so. I hesitate to even mention it because it’s ammunition for all the people that have balked at the cost of Di2 and claim that it’s just something else to go wrong and completely unnecessary and blah, blah, blah…. For what it’s worth, after 2 years of living with the gizmo of electronic shifting I can safely say that I would never go back (given a choice) to ‘normal’ shifting but that’s a conversation for another time.
I got in touch with BikeSwanky.com who had originally supplied me with the bike and was pleased to find out that everything was all covered under the Shimano warranty. No problem they said – we’ll get it sorted for you. So far, so great and this is where BikeSwanky earn their money because whereas getting it fixed under warranty would probably be a nightmare at my LBS they instead dispatched an impressively titled ‘cycling consultant’ to my door who collected the bike, took it away to his lair and promised to send me a full report once he’d found out what the problem was. The only problem was that it’s not that simple to find out what is draining a battery charge. You have to change something ….. and then wait to see if the battery drains over 24 hours or not. In the meantime, presumably because he needed to pass the time, my new cycling consultant friend completely dismantled my bike and then proceeded to send me a very detailed report (with no fewer than 29 pictures and diagrams) telling me exactly what he thought of it and how I’d looked after it …. or not!
Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering it’s a fairly high end bike that gets pressed into almost daily use, and in spite of my best efforts to keep everything clean and smooth … there were some ‘issues’. Most worryingly relating to the wheels where the rims had worn down beyond a safe limit on the braking surface. This was a shock to me since a) they are less than 2 years old (although I admit have done some mileage) but also because they’ve only gone through 2 sets of pads (front) and 3 (rear). With hindsight I think the problem was that at the last change they were fitted with SwissStop pads which although great at stopping in the wet do seem to inflict some heavy wear on the rims themselves as a result. My newly adopted cycling consultant was full of ideas, advice and recommendations …. most of which I wanted but couldn’t afford … and so I’ve ended up with a pair of Mavic Kysirium Elite S which are still a notable upgrade on the Equipe version I had before. Whilst waiting for these to turn up he also replaced my brake cables, completely disassembled and cleaned my brakes (and I mean COMPLETELY disassembled … I’ve seen the pictures) serviced and regreased the bottom bracket, the headset and coated the bike in Teflon to protect it from the winter in general. Replaced the chain and cassette, mounted new wheels, updated the firmware on the Di2 gears and remapped them so that when you press and hold the shifter it keeps on shifting until you take your finger off it again. Great for when you suddenly come round a corner to find a wall of tarmac suddenly rising up in front of you. And he even managed to find out what was causing the battery to drain – (faulty battery holder).
And the price of all this love, care and attention? Well thanks to the Shimano warranty and the efforts of Bike Swanky £0 plus parts. But on enquiring what it would be if I was picking up the bill myself I was quite surprised to learn it was in the region of £100-120 plus parts which isn’t a huge amount more than you’ll pay down at your local Evans. In fact if you throw in the bottom bracket and headset service … possibly even less? Consider also that he identified cheaper than specified brake cables had been fitted at the last service (galvanised not stainless steel), that the fitting of the brake pads accelerated the wear of the rims, that the bike was cleaned and polished top to bottom and that he picks up and delivers your bike (within reason) in the SW London area I would urge anyone with a bike that they think is worth a bit of extra care and attention to get in touch with him. He’s a small business that lives and dies on doing a good job and having people talk about it. This is my small contribution to that. His contact details are below and no, I haven’t received a discount for this unashamed plug … (although if I can ever afford that wheel upgrade …..)
The Cycling Consultant
Tel: 07840 582 810