Before a big race, there’s a few indispensable things you can do to make sure you reach peak performance. And that’s giving your bike some quick and easy TLC. The days leading up to an event, are the most critical. Since the way you perform on the big day is determined by what you eat, or how much training you put in before hand. The same can be said about your bicycle – whether your a road cyclist or mountain biker – you need to prepare your trusted steed for race day. Here’s some quick and painless maintenance tricks to do just that 😉
Washing your bike:
Step 1: Hose it off. You can use a high-pressure hose but be careful to not point it directly at your headset or bottom bracket bearings. Find a good platform to stand your bike and begin the spraying. Be sure to get into all the nooks and crannies of the frame to get any unwanted dirt out.
Step 2: Apply Bike Cleaner. Scrub your bike as much as you can focusing on any dirt still sticking to the frame or fork.
Step 3: Rinse. Once again spray your bike down, rinsing off all the soap.
Step 4: Clean the Chain. Get some degreaser and apply it to your chain. Give it a good scrub, or if you have a chain cleaner tool, now is the time to use it.
Step 5: Dry it off. Take an old bath towel or similar dry your bike off nicely. Most of the time the components and such will be built with anti-rust material – but just to be safe dry your bike off thoroughly.
Step 6: Apply the lube. It’s always best to lube the chain directly after a wash, to prevent dirt from getting in between the links. Then if you have silicon spray, you can also apply it to give the bike a clean shine. Just don’t get it on your discs! Another thing you can do to be extra thorough is to purchase some suspension lube and apply it to your shocks.
My Favourite Wash & Go Maintenance Products:
Often, we arrive at a point in time where we have a massive day or days of racing ahead. And very often we want to simply run through the “clean bike” check. As we all know that a clean bike is a happy one. Here are my favourite cleaning assistants for a quick wash and go:
- WHITE LIGHTNING Foam Bike Wash – You don’t need to rinse your bike off before applying this foam. It allows you to clean your frame without damaging the vinyl.
- Wurth Brake Cleaner – for use on pretty much anything to do with your brakes. I’ve cleaned my callipers and brake levers with it, and it doesn’t leave your components feeling oily.
- Squirt Chain Lube – to keep the chain lubricated at all times. Its wax based which means it’ll keep grease done to a minimum.
- Muc-Off Ultimate Bike Care Kit – this tool kit comes locked and loaded with everything you’ll need for your “bike wash” arsenal. From sponges to a cassette cleaner, to a 500ml bottle of bike cleaner.
How to: clean your disc brakes
Firstly, don’t use any random type of soap for this. Not only can foreign chemicals contaminate your brake pads, but they can damage your callipers and discs. Which is why its strongly recommended to use proper brake cleaner, to avoid squeaky and impotent brakes. If you have a spray-on brake cleaner, then spray a generous amount of it onto the callipers, but remember to first remove the wheel and disc, so you can into the grooves of the calliper. Then then wipe it done thoroughly with a cloth, and do the same on the disc.
How to: grease head-set bearings
Most headset bearings on modern bikes are sealed, but if by any chance you have some open bearings, then be sure to take care of those. In fact even sealed bearings require a little TLC every now and then. It’s important to note that you get grease for different areas of your bike, and you do get some that aren’t that wise to use on carbon fibre. So just be weary of that.
Remove the bike stem and spacers using Allen keys and slide the top steerer of the fork out of the head tube. You will then see either sealed or open bearings which you may remove, depending on your bike setup. Then find a well trusted high-performance grease and smear it on the inner part of your headset bearing cup. Place all the components you removed earlier back on in the same order and tighten the bolts.
How to: fine tune your drivetrain.
Okay so you’ve got the chain and derailleur cleaned and lubricated. But perhaps your chain is jumping between gears. The best and quickest way to sort this is with your barrel adjuster on your shifter. Turn the barrel until the chain doesn’t jump anymore. Try not fiddle with the screw adjustments on your rear derailleur, as this is more for derailleur alignment than anything else. Then you can also check your cables – if they are frayed or worn out, replace them. You can also rub some oil on them, to create less friction between the housing and the cable itself.