The day of the competition is just around the corner, and you trained exactly according to plan in order to be in your best form at the competition. You paid attention to yourself, your health and your diet. On this day, everything has to be perfect! But what if the material fails during the competition and your bike goes on strike? So lets make sure that your bike arrives at the start line in the same amazing shape as you!
Professional teams like Jumbo-Visma or BORA – hansgrohe have mechanics who check the bike before the race – but most of us don't have the luxury and need to take care of our bike ourselves. In this guide, we’ll show you how to properly prepare your bike for the race and give you a checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything.
Cleaning your bike
The first step is to give your bike and gear a proper clean. Not only is a clean bike a fast bike, but it also allows better inspection of the parts you will be using during the race.
- Use drivetrain degreaser like Drivetrain Detox to remove old oil, grease and dirt from your entire drivetrain. Let the drivetrain soak in the degreaser for a few minutes and then agitate with a small brush to remove stubborn contaminants.
- For the frame and wheels use a bike cleaner like Bio Filth Fighter. The cleaner loosens the dirt on the frame in a few minutes, after which you can agitate stubborn dirt with a Soft brush or Microfibre Glove.
- Apply a protective layer with a product like Protective Wax over your freshly cleaned frame and components to ensure less dirt sticks to it during the race
For a more detailed instruction on cleaning and degreasing, see our blog: "A clean bike in 6 steps"
Checking your seating position
Many cyclists have found their ideal sitting position – either on their own or with the help of a bike fitter. Before the race it is advisable to check the seating position again. Are all dimensions still correct or has something slipped?
Many people travel to the competition by car and have to adjust the saddle or twist the handlebars for transport. Make sure to write down important dimensions like saddle height and setback beforehand and have a measuring tape with you to the competition.
Of all the positional adjustments, your saddle height is probably the most important. During the race your seatpost can slip down on rough terrain, ruining your position, powertranfer and the race. To prevent this we recommend that you use a carbon assembly paste on the seatpost (even if it is aluminium). This ensures your saddle stays at the right height on the roughest terrain without having to over tighten bolts.
For a more detailed explanation on how to do this, see our blog: 'Help my seatpost keeps slipping!'
Bolts, cleats and other fasteners
Creaking bolts, loose fasteners and rusted threads can result in anything from a major annoyance to a very dangerous situation.
This is why it is always wise to check and grease all the bolts on your bike. Apply an assembly paste like Assembly Paste Pro to threaded fasteners and grease moving parts with a grease like Galactic Grease. Then use a torque wrench to ensure everything is tightened to specifications.
Pay special attention to pedals and cleats! These see a lot of water and dirt and are susceptible to rusting or seizing. Finding that one of your cleats has come loose at the start will mean a early end to your race.
The drivetrain is one of the most important parts on your bike. You can’t move forward without it. The drivetrain consists of several components that have to be serviced individually.
Before the competition, be sure to check the wear on your bicycle chain. All you need is a chain gauge. A worn chain not only ensures poor power transmission, but can also snap during a race. I’ve often seen competitive athletes on the side of the track frantically searching for a master link to mend the chain during competition. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you, by checking wear before the race.
If your chain is still in good condition, that often means that the other components are also in good condition. If your chain is worn, have your local bike shop check the entire drivetrain. Just buying a new chain can result in it slipping on the old cassette, ruining your race. Which is why you never change these components the night before a race!
After checking the condition of the chain, you should check the lubrication. Depending on whether you have wax or chain oil on the chain, you should lubricate it appropriately. If you use chain oil, you can of course adjust the oil to the weather conditions of the competition. There are different oils for the respective weather conditions:
- Dry Lube for dry and dusty conditions
- Wet Lube for wet days
- All round lube for changeable conditions.
In our line-up we would always recommend Ultra² for oil users. This lubricant is extremely durable in all conditions, is very fast and keeps your drivetrain running smooth and silet.
During a competition, no one has the time to put a chain that has jumped off back onto the sprocket. So make sure that your gears are set correctly and that all gears can be used without clicking or rattling.
The brakes ensure safety in competition. In the race we drive at completely different speeds than, for example, in training sessions. Everything is faster, and you may have to slam on the brakes from one second to the next. Therefore, be sure to check your brakes before the race. If the pressure point is too weak, bleed your brakes.
Also check the pads and replace them if necessary. If your brakes are squeaking, you should also take care of it before the race – because nothing is more annoying than squeaking brakes.
With new bikes and equiment a lot of electronics are involved. Always make sure to check the batteries of all the equipment you will be using. A few examples are:
- Electronic shifting (Sram AXS, Shimano Di2)
- GPS headunit
- HR monitor
- Sensors (Speed, Cadence, etc)
Also see if all the mounts for these electronics are still securely tightened on your bike.
Check all brackets on the bike again so that your bike computer and water bottle are secure. Do all your sensors (cadence, speed, power meter and heart rate) have enough battery or should you change the battery before the race?
Worn tires are not only a safety risk, they are also more prone to defects. Be sure to check the tire profile of your tires and change the tires if necessary. Check the air pressure at the same time and see if your wheel is running smoothly.
If you ride tubeless, check whether there is still enough sealant in the tire.
Spare parts for competition
If you have a mechanical in the race and you can’t fix it, you’re out. The professionals have a team that takes care of this. However, you have to take care of it yourself. We therefore recommend that you take the following with you to the competition:
- Spare tube or tubeless repair kit
- Tire lever
- Multi tool
- Air pump or CO₂ cartridge
- Chain lock
The final shakedown ride
We recommend that you take a little ride with your competition setup. After all, you can only find out if everything works properly if you put the bike trough it's paces.
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The day of the competition is just around the corner, and you trained exactly according to plan in order to be in your best form at the competition. You paid attention to yourself, your health...