For several days now the days have been clear and sunny. It’s warm, but not too warm. With the sunshine and dry weather (the snow has all melted away) the desire to get outside more increases. As with every spring season comes the standard bike check. I have been itching to get my bike on the trail since the middle of July last year. I blew a tire and have been hesitant ever since. But the sunny weather is getting me to re-think my stance on trainers. I do love a good trainer ride, but let’s face it, nothing beats the wind blowing past you as you ride at top speed to try and break last years time trials.
But let’s face it, training for a triathlon, no matter what race distance you train for, takes considerable time. This means less time for leisure activities, less time to rest and yes, even less family time. And by the time you purchase all the training equipment and race gear, it gets expensive too. So as a triathlete and a mother of 4 whom I homeschool, I am all for learning ways to save both time and money.
So here is a 4 step plan to help save time and money on your bike tune-up this season.
1. Clean the chain
Doing this will help save you time and money. All you have to do is purchase some chain lube such as TRI-FLOW SUPERIOR LUBRICANT and get yourself a clean towel. Cover the chain with the lube and hold on the lower segment of the chain with your towel. Then pedal your bike backward while wiping the chain. Do this until your chain is bright and shiny.
This not only makes your bike look nicer on race day, but it will also improve your bike performance. And who doesn’t want that?
Once this is done, put your bike on the trainer and test it out. Shift your gears from lowest to highest one at a time and then back again. If you find it difficult to shift or the chain skips gears, you’re going to have to spring for a new chain. But it’s still cheaper than crashing on race day.
2. Clean the Cassette
You are new to the triathlon scene. This is only your second season and you just bought your bike brand new last year. You never thought about upkeep until now. So just what is the cassette?
Its the cluster of sprockets on the rear hub of your bike. Pretty simple really. To clean this area, you first have to take off your rear wheel. Then simply squirt on some of your lube and run a towel between the cogs…kind of like flossing your teeth. This will remove all that stuck on black grease that invariably leaves its mark on your right calf.
Now while cleaning your cassette you’ll want to look at it closely. If you notice some tiny dents on the teeth you will want to replace it. These dents will wear out your chain faster and potentially reduce your overall performance on race day. This is NOT what we want.
3. Next up is the brakes
This is a relatively easy process but incredibly important. You want to make sure your brakes are centered. To do this, simply loosen the bolt that is securing your brake caliper to the frame. Then simply reposition the brake making sure your pads are as evenly spaced as possible. Then retighten the bolt and you are done.
If you notice that the pads are worn unevenly, you’ll want to head to your local bike shop and get the pads replaced. There are ways that you can do this yourself as well. I found a number of videos online showing and explaining how to do it. However, I have never had to actually change my pads so I don’t know how easy it really is to do.
4. And the last thing to check on your bike is your bolt torque.
Even if your bike is only a year old, make sure to check these. They will naturally loosen over time. Using your torque wrench go through and check each and every bolt on the bike. Don’t forget to check the bolts on the bike stem as well. If any are loose, simply tighten them, but don’t OVER tighten them.
And there you have it. Four relatively easy and inexpensive steps to caring for your bike and making sure you are race ready. Remember a dirty bike not only looks unprofessional, but it will hinder your race performance as well. So happy cleaning and I hope to see you out on the race field this season.