While you are training hard to get respectable timings, its a good idea to ensure your bicycle is race-ready too.

With over a year of experience in providing Start Line Support at races & brevets, we at BOTS Tech have compiled a list of top bicycle maintenance tips to ready your bicycle for the day of the event. Below are our recommendations:

Wash it

Give your bicycle a nice wash – it’s amazing how different a clean bicycle feels and rides. A good wash also removes the gunk from the drive train and your shifts tend to get much smoother and quieter.

Spending some quality time cleaning your bicycle. Ensure you dry out the bicycle once you are done.

Lubricate it

Once the bike is clean and sparking, lubricate it. Lubrication does not mean applying WD40 all over. Ensure you clean up the lube on the exterior of the bicycle.

Check it

1. Pressure

Ensure your wheels are pumped to spec – all tires have the recommended air pressure written on the wall of the tire.

Under-inflated tires have more rolling resistance, cause pinch flats and wear n tear faster. Ensure you use a good floor pump and a gauge.
Avoid the pumps in petrol stations as these are meant to fill auto tires and dispense large volumes of air with sometimes ineffective pressure indicators.

Ensure your tires do not have any cuts. Keep an eye out for bulges and bubbles. Go over the tire to make sure there is no debris stuck in the threads.

2. Wheels

If your bicycle has a quick release (QR) Ensure the QR is clamped correctly on both wheels (there should be a sign which mentions ‘closed’). If it is the bolt kind, ensure the bolts are all snug.

Ensure that the wheels are true. They should freely rotate when spun. Make sure there are no grinding sounds coming from the axle.

3. Brakes

Check and re-check your brakes. For non-disc brakes ensure the brake shoes are not touching the rim. Also, ensure that the brake shoes are not worn out. For disc brakes, ensure that brake pads are not touching the rotor. Keep an eye out for rims that are not true and rotors that are slightly bent. These would degrade braking performance.

The brakes should be effective. Stand over the bike and apply the brakes while pushing the bicycle. The wheels should lock.

4. Shifting

The drive train is composed of: shifters, crank, bottom bracket (BB), chain, cassette, rear derailleur (you love this part of the bike — don’t you?), hanger & front derailleur. AVOID having jammed shifters, worn-out crank tooth / wobbly crank, rusted BB, twisted links / rusted/stretched chain, slipping cassette teeth / rusted cassette, twisted rear & front derailleur, bent hanger. Any of these problems will lead to poor shifting when you want to either accelerate/climb

Take the bicycle out for a spin and shift thru all the gears. The gears should shift smoothly and should not make scraping noises in any particular ratio. Ensure that you are able to use all gears.

If the shifting feels hard, take a shot at cleaning your derailleur cables. Its easy and makes a massive difference.

Tighten it

Ensure the bicycle does not rattle when you shake it or drop it lightly. Ensure all nuts and bolts are snug. Pay specific attention to the handle bar, the QR on the wheels and the seat post. These are common areas where folks have issues.

Lose it

make your bicycle light. Remove side stands, panniers, mudguards, lights, horns, saddlebags, etc. Anything which you do not need for the race, get rid of it.

Please do not do all these checks/fixes a few hours before the race. Ensure a few hours of saddle time once you are thru cleaning the bicycle. Its painful to figure out your handlebar is loose a few minutes into a race.


Take it to your favorite bike shop and get a once over

Useful Links
  • The Maintenance Page on the Bicycling Notebook

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About the Author

Rohan Kini

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT CYCLING I love riding my bike. Whether it's a simple commute, a high-intensity road race, a jaw-grinding brevet, fixie rides thru packed Indian city or a kick-ass technical single track – I love it all. Apart from riding bicycles, I love being all geeky and know everything there is to know about bicycles, technology, bike fit, and service. I started BUMSONTHESADDLE to share this passion for cycling. DISCIPLINE: Partial towards MOUNTAIN BIKING but love it all CURRENT BIKE(S): Specialized Rockhopper, Specialized Tarmac, Pure Cycles Original DREAM BIKE: S-Works Epic HT & S-Work Roubaix OTHER PASSIONS: Technology, Photography, Baking, Travel, and Reading

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