Roll up your sleeves and get ready to grease up…
1. CHECK YOUR TYRES
Check tyres regularly for any nicks or disturbances as these are a major limiting factor during training and racing when they are damaged. Always ensure your tyres are pumped up to the recommended pressure to avoid punctures or lesions. Anything around 100psm is recommended for road cycling. Also check your spares kit for unmarred inner tubes and spare gas canisters in case you do get a puncture. Routine maintenance and monitoring is worth the time to avoid problems in the future.
2. LUBE YOUR CHAIN
It’s important to keep your chain clean from dirt and grease as it will help keep the pedals and gear changes running smoothly. Make your chain last longer by using a chain lube before riding out and wipe off the excess as this collects grit and dirt. Applying a simple degreaser after your ride will also rid the chain of dirt and road grit, keeping it clean and smooth running. Check for any wear or stretch on the chain – it will probably need replacing twice a year if you cycle frequently.
3. EXAMINE BRAKE PADS
Riding with worn brakes is not only dangerous as you can’t stop as quickly, but it can also damage your rims. If your brake pads are smooth, chances are they are worn and need replacing. Different brakes replace differently, but the easiest involve a cartridge that, once a pin is removed, allows you to slide the old brake pad out and a new one in. It’s worth familiarising yourself with your brake system so you can change these easily.
4. MONITOR CABLE TENSION
The most common gear shifting problem occurs when gear cables stretch over time, causing the chain to get stuck in between gears and make a clicking sound. Most bikes have “barrel adjusters” that can easily add tension to the cable. Sometimes they’re located where the cable connects to the derailleur and other times they’re located on the shifter. With the back wheel off the ground, spin the pedals and look for a noisy gear. Do quarter-turns of the barrel adjuster until the chain seems to shift smoothly and is less noisy. If your bike doesn’t have barrel adjusters, shift to the smallest gear so the cable has no tension in it, and then loosen the bolt holding the cable and pull some cable through. In the smallest gear, the cable should have no tension on it but not hang loose.
Make it work for you
Make friends with your local bike shop. Not only will they be a great source of knowledge, they can help you get to know your bike better and fix more difficult issues when they arise.
WORDS: Amy Kilpin IMAGES: Adam Hollier
As well as DIY bike maintenance, there’s lots more to discover in our triathlon training section…