Maintenance on a bike stored for 2 1/2 years

Hi James and the Ask A MechanicGang…

My wife and I purchased 2 - 2018 CUBE Touring SL bikes, with front fork shocks. In 2018 we toured for 4 months from the Netherlands to Albania and in 2019 we toured for 3 months through Italy, Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia. Both year our tours were self-supported. Due to the pandemic, we were not able to tour in 2020 and 2021. We will be returning to Europe in August for a 3-month self-supported tour through France, Spain and Portugal. Both of our bikes are stored at my cousin’s barn in Italy. The bikes are hung up from the handlebars and saddle.

Question: Since the bikes have not been ridden for about 2 ½ years, what maintenance should be done to the bikes before we embark on our tour? The only issue we’ve during our previous tours were two flat tires. i hope i haven’t just jinked myself!!!

PS. Currently, I’m 74 and my wife is 65. Thanks for any advice.

If they were dirty when put away, start by washing the bike repeatedly until sparkling as a couple of years of dust mixed with grease is nasty to get off. Then measure chain for wear. If ok, remove chain and deep clean it in a jam jar of degreaser repeatedly until spotless. Then rinse in soapy water then water then add squirt or similar wax based lube.

Regarding servicing, key is to take out wheels, fork and seat post and inspect the carefully once clean for cracks, bends or corrosion. Also the rims and hubs and rim tape. Then dismantle enough to get to the bearings, rotate them by hand. If not silky smooth then replacement needed. Also check all cables and ferrules for splits, corrosion etc. If in doubt replace. New bar tape is also nice.

After all that the bike will ride like new. Possibly better!


My old bike was stored in a bike box for 2+ years in the attic of my home. I too couldn’t ride it due to the pandemic as I was based overseas. When I finally visited home and took the bike out, I had to replace the bar tape as it was coming apart wherever I touched it. Replaced the shift and gear cables too as they didn’t feel too smooth. Pumped the tires and they held air fine. All in all it was a 2 hour job (my bike had fully external routing), and it was up and running again.

I checked the headset, BB and chain for wear and they were fine. I guess it depends on whether the place you store your bike is humid, hot or both, which can take a toll on metal parts exposed to the elements.