Every triathlete has 2 machines they use in a triathlon and both these machines need to be kept in pristine condition. Those 2 machines? Your body and your bike. These are the 2 “B’s” that can either boost your race or break your race (and in some cases a bone or 2). As a triathlete, your bike is an extension of your body, and as such, you need it to give it proper maintenance and care. You need to make bike tuning as important a part of your routine as your training regimen.
Bike Tuning – Why You Need to Do It
Being ready for a triathlon is more than just preparing yourself mentally and physically. It also means having a competition ready bicycle. Keeping your bike tuned will save you a lot of trouble down the road – literally. Whether you get it tuned at a bike shop or you do the tuning yourself, never neglect to tune your bicycle.
1. Avoid Time Wasting Breakdowns
Nothing is as frustrating as being forced out of a race because of a broken chain or a bolt coming loose leading to a malfunctioning bike. Many triathletes have testimonies of breakdowns mid-race that spoiled the whole event for them. And most of them can attest to the fact that their breakdown could have been avoided had they given their bike a tune-up before the race. Don’t be a statistic. Tune your bike regularly, and especially before a race.
2. Prevent Disastrous Accidents
Failing to tune your bike can have more disastrous consequences than a breakdown – it can actually lead to an accident. And because triathlons are a very populated race, fatalities can result from a bicycle falling apart mid-race. Make bike tuning a routine part of your pre-race rituals and you could save yourself and other competitors from unnecessary injury.
3. Perfect Bike, Perfect Race
One of the biggest benefits of a bike tune-up is the fact that a well-tuned bike will give you the perfect race. Whether you win the event or not, it is good coming out of it knowing you had the ride of your life. Many triathletes have had terrible races due to failing to tune their bikes. Simple things like a loose pedal, a misaligned brake lever, or God forbid, a “dry” chain can spoil a triathlon for you. A well-tuned bicycle will help you perform to your fullest potential.
A Simple Bike Tuning Checklist for Every Triathlete
Whether you choose to DIY your bike tuning or take it to a bicycle shop for tuning, it is important for you to have a checklist to ensure your bike is in perfect condition. Here are the top 5 things to look at when tuning your bike.
1. Check Your Chain
The chain is your bike’s drivetrain. If it is not in good condition you won’t get anywhere. Check your chain for slackness, unusual noises, and any other faults like skipping gears or problematic shifting. Also, ensure that your chain is well lubricated.
2. Cassette – Check, Clean, or Consider a Replacement
Always keep a close eye on your cassette as it can easily get worn out (especially in your favorite gear) or damaged. If you ride in dusty places, you might want to regularly clean the cassette and give it a fresh dose of lubrication to keep it healthier for longer.
3. Inspect Your Brake Pads
The importance of a good set of brakes can never be over-emphasized – it can actually make the difference between life and death. Brakes are quite easy to check as a cursory look can tell you the condition of your breaks. Despite that, you will need to feel the brakes for flakiness if they are old. Any sign of trouble on the brakes warrants a replacement set.
4. Take Note of Your Tires
Your tires are the contact point between you and the road – they are very important and receive a lot of battering. Regularly inspect your tires for cracks, cuts, or embedded debris as all these can easily lead to a puncture or tire burst.
5. Keep Your Cables and Housing in Good Condition
Housing and cables should be inspected regularly for cracks, corrosion, kinks, or fraying metal bits. Make sure to oil your housing regularly and replace it as often as needed, otherwise, your shifting will be slow and irregular.
6. Parts in General
Make sure to attend to any broken, cracked, or worn out part as quickly as possible. Delaying to do so may exacerbate the problem or cause another part to malfunction.
Ride Your Way to Victory
Remember, your bike is a critical part of your triathlon and it should be treated with the utmost care. When in doubt, take it to your local bike store and have them give it a professional tune-up. Invest as much as you can to have a road and race worthy bike and you will increase your chances of riding to victory.