Wednesday, February 3, 2016

You’re probably hurting your bike…and yourself if you’re not doing these

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I’m an avid cyclist way before I caught this running bug. I raced my bike for few years and I’m still enjoying the rides along with my friends whether it’s a short or century rides. Cycling has always been my passion and one of my outlets when I just want to have that “me time”.

Along all those years that I’ve been riding my bike, I pick up some good things that I want to share with you. These suggestions are from my own experience, hope you’ll enjoy and get something from it.

Not cleaning your bike
This doesn’t mean power spraying your bike like what the professional mechanics are doing. Professional mechanics are doing this because it’s a lot easier and faster for them to clean 10 or more bikes within their team. Though they’re using the power spray, they’re also disassembling the bikes for thorough cleaning, inspection then building it up back again. But for the regular Joes like you and me, cleaning can be as simply running a clean rug on the frame, fork and handle bar after each ride. You can either wet the rug with warm water or spray it with some lemon pledge (yes, the one we used in cleaning furniture). I always do this after each ride, it makes it easy for me to give it a good visual inspection for any hairline cracks or remove those sugary stuff from my drinks that could potentially build up on the frame and bottom bracket.

Not lubing your chain
Chain is your link to transfer your leg power to the rear wheel so you can move forward. It is also the most critical part of the bike that needs to be lube every now and then. If not properly lubed, chains can create a lot of friction that can speed up the wear and tear of the chain rings, cassettes, derailleur jockeys and that could also potentially weaken each link on the chain. To prevent this from happening, after each ride grab the bottom side of the chain with a clean rug and hold it while spinning the pedal backwards. Keep doing this until you think that the chain is clean enough. After that, you need to lube those chains and let it sit for few hours so that the oil can get to those little tiny holes and push the dirt out.  Run those rugs again and re- lube. Let the oil sit overnight and remember to wipe the chain again before riding to remove any excess oil (if you somehow put too much) this will prevent oil from splatting your precious wheels and getting into the brake surface.

Not changing your cable and the housing
This maintenance is not as critical in comparison with the above. However, this deserves some TLC as well if you want your bike to shift like butter. If you’re a serious racer or just a weekend warrior fighting for those town sprints, this could mean the difference between bragging and coming in for second place. Most manufacturers will inject lube inside the housing and pre lube the cables to extend its life but they do deteriorate over time. If you use power spray or hose to clean your bike, water can sometimes get into those tiny holes and rust can build up inside. Also if you see that your cables are frayed, it might be a good idea to replace them right away. There’s really no magic number on when to replace them but depending on where and how often you ride your bike is a good indicator. I replace mine at least every three years.

Not inspecting your tires
This goes beyond inflating and checking your tire pressure every time you ride. You should constantly check your tires before and after each ride for loose threads on the sidewalls and minor/ major cuts. The worst thing that could happen is when your tire suddenly blows out on you. This could potentially put you in a serious danger when it happens during high speed. You have more chances of saving yourself from crashing if the rear tire blows up but not with the front tire. When front tire blows up, you are more than likely to go down.

As we all know, the front and rear tires have different wear and tear ratio. It’s almost close to 1:3, meaning that the rear tire will wear out three times faster than the front. This is due to weight distribution and also because this is where we transfer the power that creates friction between the road and the tire. Some manufacturers (like Continentals) have dimples indented on their tires. This is a wear indicator and if you no longer see those dimples, then it’s time for a new one. If you’re strapped financially (I know, tires are not cheap) you can do the “front to back to trash” method. Meaning that the new tire goes to front, the old front tire goes to the back, and the old back tire goes to the trash. Make sense?

Not inspecting the headset
Not too many cyclists do this but I think it’s a good habit that you should inspect this area before you ride. For carbon fiber bikes (which most cyclists own now), manufacturers have set certain parameters on how much torque should be applied to lock those bolts in the headset. I’m not saying that the recommended torque is not that good, but you need to remember that the bikes are constantly exposed to jarring and vibrations every time you ride and chances are those bolts might lose its tightness overtime. This rarely happens anyhow, but for the sake of being safe this is how to check the headset, grab the headset with one of your hands and gently bump the front wheel against the wall. If you noticed any movement, then your headset is loose. Tighten them up!

Thanks for reading and hope these help. Feel free to comments if you have any concerns or questions.

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