Get your bike race ready

You need not be a super mechanic to do it right and simply. Tune-up or overhaul? Maybe it's time to upgrade or even buy a new bike. What to do?

Thousands of cyclists are faced with this dilemma each year. The decision is an important one because, not only will an unreliable bike affect your results, but it may also be unsafe. Every year, we see bikes that are bordering on unsafe due to inadequate maintenance.

Race maintenance:
Leave the big stuff to the professional wrench-force boys. The typically busy cyclist should take care of the weekly and monthly maintenance tasks and leave the annual or semi-annual overhauling to the pros.

Weekly maintenance tasks:
These tasks here are referenced from Glenn's New Complete Bicycle Manual

  • Inflate the tires to the correct pressure. Bicycle tires lose pressure much faster than care tires. Some tubulars, with latex inner tubes, need daily reinflation.

  • Spray the chain with a lightweight lubricant.

  • Pry out glass splinters and other small penetrating objects from the tire treads. Check tires for wear and damage.

  • Test hub and crank bearings for looseness or binding.

  • Check the adjustment of derailleurs.

  • Check all bolted-on parts for looseness and tighten as necessary, especially aerobars, crank arm, pedals, stem, handlebars, seat and brakes.

    Do it yourself monthly maintenance tasks:
    Lubricate front hub. Use a few drops of light oil if an oil fitting is provided. Use grease if equipped with a fitting.

  • Lubricate the rear hub. Use a few drops of light oil or grease, depending on the type of fitting. Clean the chain and relubricate; clean the sprockets.

  • Apply a few drops of light-weight oil to the ends of the brake and shift cables where they enter the housings.

  • Apply lightweight oil to all pivot points of the caliper brakes.

  • Apply lightweight oil to the moving parts and pivot points of the rear derailleur.

  • Apply lightweight oil to the pivot points of the front derailleur.

  • The to the pedals, apply medium-weight oil as recommended by the manufacturer.

  • Apply lightweight oil to free-wheel or cassette mechanism.

  • Check armrest pads for tightness.

  • Check bottle cages and rear-cage mounts for tightness. Bike shop annual or semi-annual maintenance tasks:

  • Overhaul the pedals.

  • Overhaul the headset.

  • Overhaul the rear derailleur.

  • Overhaul the rear-wheel hub.

  • Overhaul the freewheel or cassette cluster body.

  • Remove, inspect and re-lubricate all control cables. Replace as necessary. (It is a good idea to replace cables each year.)

  • Remove stem and seatpost, clean and grease.

  • Check the chain for wear. A worn chain will work, but will eventually mean you will need to replace badly worn chainrings (expensive!). Replace your chain every year and more often if you are training for a half or full Ironman.

  • Retape bars for a better grip. It is low cost and will improve function and appearance.

  • Check your frames for corrosion or cracks, especially the front of the down tubes and forks where stones may have removed the finish. Be aware that once the protection is removed from steel and aluminum, corrosion and then cracks and fatigue failure can occur. Inspect very carefully and have the frames repainted by a professional bicycle painter if necessary.

    Tool list:

  • Work stand: Blackburn Workhorse.

  • Floor pump with gauge.

  • Lubricants: Finish line, White Lightning, Tri-Flow.

  • Bottom bracket wrench: Park.

  • Crankbolt wrench: Park.

  • Pedal wrench: Park.

  • Allen wrench set 2.5mm to 8mm: Park.

  • Freewheel remover or chain whip and locking remover: Park.

    'Glenn's New Complete Bicycle Manual,' by Harold T. Glenn

    'Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance,' by Lennard Zinn.

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