Spring Into Action – with Larisa
Pre-season bike checks
Pre-season bike checks
February, the month of “love”. Here in Romania we celebrate love twice this month. On the 14th February – the classic American Valentine’s Day and on the 24th “Dragobete” the national Romanian day for the ones in love. Speaking of love, I definitely love my bike, after so many months of riding it and it really became familiar to me – i like it more and more. Here in Transylvania, when winter started, I thought that we won’t have so much snow. Global warming was so evident, with higher temperatures than we were used to here in Transylvania. We didn’t have snow for months and it was weird. But then, in the beginning of February, the snow came and made up for every day without snow. It snowed lots also in the city and the roads were blocked because of so much snow.
Too soon though, the temperatures rose again and melted all the snow, and yes, that meant that spring is around the corner. After winter full of skiing and indoor trainings it’s time for us to revive ourselves as cyclists and go back outside with the bike. However, it’s always recommended to do a bike check before starting the new cycling season, to check safety and the condition of the bike after a hard winter.
Let’s show the bike some love and do a simple and quick bike check. You can go to your local mechanic for a complete bike check, or you can try and make it at home. Here are some tips and tricks, based on what is known as the ‘M’ check. You simply follow the shape of the letter ‘M’ around the bike, to remember what to check. Let’s go!
Look for any damage like scratches or cracks. More attention particular on the area where the frame joins the head tube and there’s lots of pressure. Remove the wheels and give the whole frame a good clean.
They should be tightly fitted, and check that the quick-release lever is secure in the closed position. Lock the QR upwards, so that you can see if it comes lose. If the wheel is not quick release, check that the nuts on both sides of the wheel are secure. Check the wheel hubs and maybe regrease the bearings.
I use Pirelli tyres on my bike, not tubeless, although the tyres are tubeless ready. At this time of year, it’s worth considering changing those heavy tread winter style tyres for a lighter spring and summer tyre. Check the tyre for wear too, and any suite wall damage. Check if the tyre is blunt, it needs to be rounded shape, if it appears to be blunt or flat it’s time to change it with a new one. Finish off with a tyre pressure check. It is important to use high quality tyres, especially in harsh weather conditions like icy or wet roads. A well-maintained tyre will lead you to your destination securely by improving traction with the road and reducing the little inconvieniences that you might suffer due to poor weather conditions.
The saddle gets lots of road dirt thrown up underneath it during winter. Clean underneath the saddle and lightly, rub oil along the metal rails and bolts. Check that the saddle is in the correct position too. Take the seatpost out, clean it, add grease lightly and refit and tighten it up with a torque spanner.
I’ve got Carbon Shimano pedals on my RedChilli, and Ultegra cranks. You need to hold the crank arm and tug it, checking on any play or movement. Tighten if necessary. Check the bottom bracket and if required, change it before spring. Tighten the pedals too, but not over-tighten. It’s useful to have a long handled pedal spanner, to get good torque. Check the carbon pedals too, for any damage/ cracks.
Checking the Stem My RedChilli has an integrated stem and bars. However, I still need to check the bearings movement in the headset, and the stem bolts. I need to check that the stem and bars are aligned, and check the torque settings on the bolts. It’s also a good opportunity for me to re-grease the headset after winter, check the condition of the bolts and replace any that look weathered. Putting a tiny amount of oil on my finger and rubbing the bolts, is a good way to protect them once I’ve tightened them to the correct torque setting.
The tension should be of equal and tight not loose. Pluck each spoke with your finger. The sound from each spoke should be very similar.
Clean the chain with a cloth and wipe it good. Then oil it, wipe it again for excess. Should be clean and oiled to ride smooth. Don’t use too much oil as this will pick up more dirt and clog it, making the chain more difficult to clean.
Ensure that the front and rear brakes are working properly. Both sides of the brake mechanism should move when the brake is applied. Check the front brake by pressing the brake and pushing the bike forwards and check the back brake, by pressing the brake and dragging the bike backwards.
Yes, the most obvious and often forgotten. Replace your cables after winter and lubricate them. Don’t however just pull out your old internally routed cables. Use the old cables to help guide in your new ones.
I am very excited for Spring; I miss riding outside so much! I can’t wait to feel the warm breeze, the sun, the taste of adrenaline when going down with speed on the descend! I miss my favourite roads around my hometown. I have to prepare for two big main races I want to do this summer. I wrote on the previous article about the two great races – “Transfagarasan Challenge” and “Paltinis Challenge” – both events being during “The Cycling Tour of Sibiu”. I’m racing these with friends from our website this year, and it’s exciting.
See you on the road and off-road in summer! Yes, why not come riding here in Transylvania, and explore the beautiful countryside and our culture. Enjoy the beginning of the road cycling season – and warmer rides again!