We can’t all be pros but we can give our bikes a thorough check before rides, to prevent major problems from occurring
“Check that the chain is lubed,” says Geddan Ruddock of Maverick Cycles in Franschhoek. “If you’re unsure what to use or if you like to keep only one type around for all conditions, then use a light oil. Apply a small amount to the inside of the chain as you pedal backward so the entire chain gets an even coat. Centrifugal force will push the lube into the chain parts. If you apply the lube to the top of the chain, the centrifugal force will simply fling the lube off the chain before it does any good,” says professional bike mechanic Daimeon Shanks in his book, Essential Bicycle Maintenance & Repair (R195 on kalahari.com).
“Check the tyre pressures,” says Toni Pedro, bike mechanic at Republic Sport & Adventure in Durban. “Most tyres will have the proper pressure range printed on the sidewall.” Check for any cuts or nicks in the sidewall or tread of the tyres where the inner tube can bulge through and cause a flat. Also make sure that the quick-release skewers are tightened correctly. Spin the wheels to check that they are true and don’t rub on anything.
Make sure that the stem is aligned with the front wheel and tightened. “You don’t want a loose stem when barreling down a tight and twisty road,” says Geddan. “This is very dangerous because it affects your steering.” Elite triathlete Kate Roberts had to retire from the Midmar Dam round of the BSG Triseries race last year because her bike became unrideable due to a loose stem.
Test the brakes. “Check that the disc rotors or rims are not rubbing against the brake pads,” says Geddan. “Spin the wheels and apply the front and rear brakes independently of each other. Check that the brakes engage before the brake lever reaches the handlebars and that there is enough stopping power to be safe,” says Daimeon. “It is also important to ensure the brake pads are not worn. Inspect where the brake pads hit the rim; they should contact the rim evenly on both sides and not rub the tyre in any way because this will cause a flat.”
Originally published in the September/October issue of Go Multi magazine.