Bike maintenance for triathletes

by The Coaches on June 18, 2009

We recently demonstrated bike maintenance at the Tri Expo that we were at with Paramount Adventure.  Below are the maintenance tips; a 10 minute schedule and a maintenance schedule.

10 Minute check.
Brakes: The brakes should be fully on by the time the lever is half-way
Frame: Check handlebar, aero-bars, stem and rest of frame for any cracks.
Brakes: Check that there is plenty of rubber on the brake pads.  The pad should be properly aligned with the rim; 2mm or less from the edge of the rim is normally good.
Headset: Make sure that the headset does not have any play or is loose.  Apply front brake and try to move the bike, feeling for any movement.
Brakes: Check brake cables are in good condition.  You want to make sure that they are not frayed especially where they are secured.  If it requires a lot of pressure to activate the brakes, your cables may need replacing.
Headset: Check that the stem bolts are tight and tighten if necessary.
Cranks: Hold one side of the crank and, using your other hand, try to move the other side of the crank.  You’re feeling for any movement.  Repeat on the other side.  If any movement, you may need to tighten the cranks.  If both are moving, you may need to adjust the bottom bracket (take to shop if not comfortable doing this)
Cranks: Take chain off of the front chain rings and rotate cranks to ensure that they rotate smoothly.  If you feel any grittiness, your bottom bracket may need some attention.
Chain-ring: Check that the chain ring is straight and check the tightness of the chain ring bolts.  Also check pedals are rotating freely.
Rear-deuralier: Check cable is not fraying near the clamp.  Shift through gears to check smoothness.  If chain is jumping or making a noise, a simple adjustment of the cable may fix.  Check High and Low gears and adjust H/L screws if needed
Front-deuralier: Make sure the cage is parallel to the chain.  Check cable is not fraying.
Saddle & Seat post: check tightness but do not over-tighten these bolts since they are often alloy and can be damaged.
Wheels:  Spin wheel to make sure spinning freely.  Check for trueness: look at the gap between rim and pads when wheel is spinning and make sure it remains the same.  Check tire for any foreign objects; you can remove these with tweezers.   Check for any rubber perishing.  Axle should run smoothly.  Check for play (wheel bearings) Check tire pressure.
Quick Lube: Every 40 miles  Brake pivots: front and rear.  Front and rear gears: if it moves, lube it.  Lube chain: every link.  Brake levers.  Cable housing exits
Maintenance Schedule
Every Ride
Air: ensure proper tire inflation and check tire wear. Check for objects such as glass that may be stuck in the tire.
Brakes & Bars: check brake function (cable tension and pad alignment).  Check handlebars and aerobars for cracks. ‘close’ brakes
Chain and Cables: check for tight links and fraying cables. Lube chain.
Wheels: check for trueness , spoke tension / damage
Quick releases: ensure fully seated and correctly tightened (should leave impression in palm of hand when closing)

Clean lubricate and inspect drivetrain (chain stretch)
Check wheel bearing adjustment: while wheel is on bike try to wiggle the tire…if it moves, bearings need adjustment
Check headset and bottom bracket adjustment (Pick up front of bike and steer the handlebars from side to side…movement should be smooth and easy.  Then with the front wheel on the ground, move bike forward and backward while you squeeze the front brake lever…if you feel play in the headset, it needs adjustment.  For bottom bracket, try to move crankarms from side to side…if you feel play or “creaking” noises when you ride, bottom bracket adjustment cup or fixed cup may be loose…also check crankarm bolts for proper tightness.)
Check for loose nuts and bolts. (headset, seatpost, waterbottle cages, handlebar, crankarm, chainring, stem bolts, pedals, any mounting screws)
Clean frame and working components and check for wear and breakage
-Lubricate brake, shifter, and pedal pivot points
-Inspect tires for wear and replace if necessary (don’t forget to check rim tape to insure all spoke holes are completely covered and tape is not deteriorating)
-Inspect shoe cleats for wear (tighten or replace if necessary)

-Thorough check of brake function (inspect pad wear, pad alignment, cable tension)
-Clean and wax frame, inspect for damage/hairline cracks on frame, hubs, and rims
-check tool kit (insure you have the needed tools to make minor repairs on the road…insure spare tube and patch kit are in good working order and not dry rotted or that the glue has dried up)
-Thoroughly clean drivetrain

-Take out Seatpost and Quill Stem…clean and lube (Do not lube carbon fiber seatpost or seat tube)
-Inspect handlebar tape and replace if necessary

-All the above and overhaul Bottom Bracket, Wheel Bearings, Headset, and pedals.  Check derailleur hanger alignment.  Replace worn or corroded cables and cable housing.  (Overhaul means to completely disassemble, clean, lube and adjust for proper function.  If this is beyond your expertise, you should have it done professionally.  Everything on your bike that has threads should be lubed with grease at least annually.)

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Craig McGray July 1, 2009 at 6:36 am

Great information. I will try to complete at least some of these checks more regularly after reading this.

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