"Out spokin': Bike maintenance plays key role in cycling performance"

Dave McIntosh OutThere.Com

There’s an old saying that a clean bike is a fast bike, and not only do I believe that’s true, I would also extend that statement to include the idea that a well-tuned bike makes being a cyclist more enjoyable.

Previous blogs:
Meeting adverse conditions builds mental toughness
http://www.outtherecolorado.com/blogs/out-spokin-training-in-adverse-conditions-helps-build-mental-toughness.html
Nutrition tips for before, during and after next ride
http://www.outtherecolorado.com/blogs/out-spokin-in-your-efforts-to-drop-weight-dont-neglect-your-bodys-needs.html
Start riding now or regret it come cycling season
http://www.outtherecolorado.com/blogs/out-spokin-get-in-the-saddle-now-or-regret-it-come-cycling-season.html
If you miss a workout, move on
http://www.outtherecolorado.com/blogs/out-spokin-if-you-miss-a-workout-do-yourself-a-favor-and-move-on.html

Winter is hard on your bike, and the cumulative miles you’ve ridden in the last year are as well. As the days start to get longer and the possibility of spring seems closer to becoming a reality, it’s time to get your bike into primo condition for the season.

Chain/drivetrain: This time of year is the best time to switch out the items that wear out. Chains wear – as do the gears they interface with. If you’re good about replacing your chain before it wears too much, you may not have to replace your cogs as frequently. However, if you replace the chain and you’re having trouble with skipping/chattering gears, there’s a good chance the new chain isn’t meshing well with the old cogs and you’ll need to replace them as well.

Brake/shifter cables/brake pads: Brake and shifter cables and the housings around them should be removed and replaced, particularly if there is any cracking in the housing. Many riders don’t realize their cables are in bad shape because the degradation happens so gradually, but once you have new cables and housing you’ll realize what you’ve been missing! If you’re doing the work yourself, use a small amount of lube on the cable before running it through the housing. This will ensure that there will be little friction between the cables and housing and keep your shifting smooth. Check to see if your brake pads are significantly worn, and replace them as needed. Nothing’s worse than flying down a descent at 40 mph and grabbing a handful of brake, only to realize those worn-out pads you wished you would’ve replaced aren’t doing their job!

Tires: Your tires are essentially your “shoes” on the ground, so be sure to look them over closely. Riding on worn-out tires means you don’t have the traction you should have, and you’re more vulnerable to flats. Are there deep cuts or bits of glass/stone/plastic embedded in the rubber? Is there enough rubber left? Is your rear tire squared-off across the top from wear? Can you see the threads of the casing? If you can see the threads, you might be seeing the ground with the next corner you take!

A few more quick tips for early-season maintenance:
  • Handlebar tape gets compressed over time and loses its ability to provide cushioning. Replace it, and take the opportunity to inspect your handlebars – especially if you’re riding carbon bars.
  • Take a look at the cleats attached to your shoes. If they’re worn down, now’s a good time to replace them. You’ll have time to get used to the new ones, or make adjustments if necessary, before you’re in the middle of a heavy training or competition period.
  • Get a new helmet. I don’t care if you didn’t crash in 2010, get a new helmet for 2011 and get into the habit of replacing your helmet on an annual basis (or more frequently if you hit your head …).
 

These are basic bike maintenance and early-season tips, and they are relatively easily done. If you’re not mechanically inclined, you’re in luck because there are several great local bike shops in the Pikes Peak Region. Just take your bike in and let them do what they do best: get your bike in tip-top condition.

For information about CTS coaching, camps, and performance testing, visit our Colorado Springs training facility at 21st Street and Highway 24, visit us online http://www.trainright.com , or call us at 866-355-0645.

Dave can be reached at dmcintosh@trainright.com .

BFC April 2011 Issue - Vol 4 Issue 2, 1 April 2011

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