Diligence Defined

A month ago my local bike shop faced some tough realities of Singapore, as it had to close one of it outlets, the one closet to my home. Over the years, Hussein and the team at T3 have been my one stop shop for everything bike. They’ve built and serviced every bike I’ve had since 2014. I still make the cross town trip for parts, but the move forced me to consider my options for servicing.

Over recent months several of my team mates have been ‘rescued’ by local legend, Stephen Ames of Valley Cycles. Stephen is a well known face around the Singapore bike scene, he races with the Specialized Mavericks, and recently joined the Singapore National team in Japan as team mechanic. His placed is also just around the corner from T3’s now closed Bukit Timah store. So he was a logical choice for my pre-race servicing on Rocket (S-works Venge) and Michael (S-works Tarmac).

Thinking I’d have to book weeks in advance for Stephen one man operation, I was super surprised to find myself dropping Rocket off at 9am the next morning. After a brief run down on the bike’s history and what to look out for. My beloved race machine was in the hands of a new ‘doctor’. Stephen reputation is stella, but it doesn’t help the nerves.

Stephen’s home based service shop, amongst his son’s amazing collection of Star Wars lego, is something my wife would never approve of, but left me envious. In Singapore its near impossible to have a man cave in a garage. So see Stephen’s setup had me reminiscing back to my days in Australia.

Anticipating a couple of days wait, I was again surprised to receive this message at 5pm that day:

Hi. Bike all done as below. Let me know when wish to collect. Thanks.
Scott b – Valley Cycles Service Record
Bike – venge 11 di2
Date. – 3 March
Weight – 7.7kg
Safety
Front tyre check – ok
Front brake actuation – re centralized caliper
Front brake pad wear – ok
Rear tyre check – ok
Rear brake actuation – adjust cable tension. Re centralize caliper
Rear brake pad wear – ok
Cable check – ok
Headset operation – ok
Front dérailleur – adjust end stops
Rear dérailleur – adjust end stops and di2 setting.
Chain wear – 40% change in c3k Kms.
Pedal play – ok
Remove pedals and regrease – done. Left pedal very tight. Added anti sieze compound.
Bottom bracket – ok
Front wheel truing – ok
Front wheel bearing play – ok
Rear wheel truing – ok
Rear wheel operation bearing play – some movement in bearings. No adjustments possible on new zipp hubs. Keep an eye on.
Torque check
Stem to bars – loose. Add anti sieze compound.
Stem to steerer – ok. Add anti sieze compound.
Brake cable clamp – ok
Brake mounting – front loose.
Cassette – ok
Cranks – safety catch not engaged and crank bolts loose.
Seat post – ok. Add carbon paste and grease bolts. Removed bubble wrap???
Pre ride
Tyre pressures – ok
Clean bike – done
Clean and lube drivetrain – done
Test ride comments – all good.
Other – charge battery and update to latest di2 firmware.
Parts Used:- none

I’ve had bikes since I was in my teens, and I’ve always tried to ensure I regularly maintain them and care for them. But never in my life have I received such a diligent report from a bike service. Granted I was aware of a few things, just by knowing my bike. But the effort was simply amazing.

Stephen took the time to talk me through a few minor issues; like the play on my Zipp 404 Firestrike, and the bubble wrap in the seat post (most likely from a Di2 battery that’s fallen down and wedged itself behind the cage bolts). This was service way beyond the expected, and I loved it.

Stephen has a genuine passion for the care and maintenance of bikes, and it shows in his work.

After my morning ride the very next day (today), I rode out to Stephen’s place to drop off my S-works Tarmac, and collect the Venge. Same routine, I talked him through the Tarmac slightly ‘tougher’ life. I do roughly 90% of my kilometres on the Tarmac, everything from Zone 2 rides, to insane claims. It’s the bike I took to the Swiss Alps last year.

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photo by Valley Cycles

At 2pm I received the prognosis:

Scott b – Valley Cycles Service Record
Bike – Tarmac 11 da di2
Date. – 4 March
Weight – 7.43kg
Safety
Front tyre check – ok
Front brake actuation – adjust cable tension
Front brake pad wear – ok
Rear tyre check – minor cuts
Rear brake actuation – adjust cable tension
Rear brake pad wear – ok
Cable check – ok
Headset operation – loose. Readjusted. Changed upper spacer as cap only just resting on lugs.
Front dérailleur – adjust end stops
Rear dérailleur – adjust alignment.
Chain wear – 100% Changed new da.
Pedal play – ok
Remove pedals and regrease – done. Both tight.
Bottom bracket – ok
Front wheel truing – ok
Front wheel bearing play – ok
Rear wheel truing – ok
Rear wheel operation bearing play – sideways movement as per venge.
Torque check
Stem to bars – loose
Stem to steerer – ok
Brake cable clamp – ok
Brake mounting – ok
Cassette – ok
Cranks – very loose. Need to be 12 nm.
Seat post – ok
Pre ride
Tyre pressures – ok
Clean bike – done
Clean and lube drivetrain – done
Test ride comments – all good
Parts Used:-
Durace chain

The chain wear was predictable, and the same diligence was applied.

We are all passionate about our bikes, and we care for them like children. So to find a mechanic who is equally passionate, and diligent is a pleasing find.

Thank-you Stephen, love your work. Next time I’ll make sure to bring over some cold beers to show my appreciation.

The ride home on the Venge was simply amazing. It felt stiff and fast as it glided over the road surface with the help of the new Vittoria Corsa Graphne tyres. The bike is now ready to take on next week’s OCBC Cycle Road Race. I’ll pick Tarmac later today.

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