Wednesday, March 23, 2011

You're going to be ready for the Ride in May, but is your bike?

Jim Ventosa is a three time participant in RFTF (this year being his fourth) and current employee of Proteus Bicycles. Jim knows first-hand how important it is for your bike to be in tip-top shape to ride 140 miles, as well as how to get it there. Jim has kindly shared his expertise below.

The weather is getting warmer so a lot of bike tires are hitting the pavement for the first time this year.  Spinning classes are fantastic, but it's definitely worth it to get your bike out sooner rather than later.  After you pull your bike down from that hook in the garage, give it a once-over to make sure it's ready to roll. 

  1. Air up your tires. The PSI (pounds per square inch) is printed on the side of your tire.  Have a look at your tires - how badly are they worn?
  2. Pick the front of the bike up, spin the front wheel. Look at the space between your brakes and your rim. Is the wheel spinning relatively straight? Repeat with the back wheel.
  3. Grab the tire and try to wobble the wheel from side to side. It shouldn't wobble at all.  The axle should feel secure. Repeat with the rear wheel.
  4. Turn your handlebars 90 degrees. Put on the front brake. Push the bike forward and backwards.  It shouldn't feel wobbly.
  5. Both of your brakes should work without having to apply too much pressure to the levers.  Look at the brake pads - are they very worn? Is the side of the rim particularly dirty? Are your brake cables frayed?
  6. Using a metric allen wrench (most bolts will be 4, 5, or 6mm), check to make sure that all the visible bolts are tight. No need to overdo it. You don't want to apply too much force and strip the bolts, but things should be tight.
  7. Grab your crankarms (the things connected to the pedals) and try to wobble them side to side. They shouldn't. By this time it should be painfully apparent that wobbling is bad.
  8. Hop on your bike and ride around. Shift through all of your gears with your right hand, then shift one gear with the left, then shift through all the gears with your right hand again.  Repeat until you have done all the different gear combinations. Don't be surprised if your bike doesn't like the extremes (big chainring in the front and big gear in the back or small chainring in the front and little gear in the back).  This is normal. The chain should roll smoothly, it shouldn't jump off the gears, it shouldn't skip (or wobble for that matter).
  9. Look at your chain. Is it dirty? If you're feeling ambitious, hold a ruler up to it.  12 links should be 12 inches (from the center of pin to the center of pin).  If it's not, you may be due for a new chain.
  10. Look at your cassette (gears in the back) and your chainrings (gears in the front).  They should not look like shark fins.  If they do, your drivetrain is probably worn.

If you're having problems with these things now, stop by one of the awesome Ride for the Feast sponsor bike shops and get your bike checked out...or check out a couple of the specials listed below:
  • Joe’s Bike Shop will be hosting their annual bike tune-up event on April 28. Tune-ups will be offered for a discounted rate of $50 (normally $75) and all proceeds will benefit Moveable Feast.
  • Baltimore Bicycle Works is also offering a $20 discount on tune-ups for Ride participants.  Stop in their Falls Road Shop (1813 Falls Road) and mention RFTF.

PLEASE NOTE:  We have been lucky enough to have fantastic bike techs with us each year. BUT, that's no excuse to show up to the ride without making sure your bike is in good working order. Bike techs are there to deal with quick and easy fixes to keep you rolling. "Keep you rolling" implies that your bike is already rolling quite well but may have had a minor problem. In previous years, a lot of what they have been asked to do the night before or during the Ride falls well outside of that realm. Moving forward, we're going to encourage our bike techs to give priority to quick easy fixes and adjustments, in order to make the best use of their time and not take advantage of them. If your bike needs fall outside that realm, you will be directed to the nearest bike shop.

No comments:

Post a Comment