VIP Pro Tips by Reid Beloni
Welcome back to VIP Pro Tips.
We are going to talk a little about tech, with Three bike maintenance tips you should always do. Whether you ride a lot or ride a little, there are a few things you should always do before you get on your bike. Essential safety tips and good general practice that will make your ride just a little bit more enjoyable.
Check and inflate tires
As you get ready for your ride, checking your tires and inflating them is key. Road, gravel, mountain bike, commuting, grab the pump. Most tubes, or tubeless tires, will bleed air overnight. How fast this occurs can vary depending on what sort of tubes you have, what pressure you are running, and temperature changes. But in the 24 hrs since your last ride it is completely possible that you’ll lose 5 psi. Sure you could get away with skipping a day and still being in range, but that’s a bad habit to get into because before you know it, you’ve let your tires sit for a week and they are dangerously low.
Having the right pressure is important because it will optimize your ride. The right pressure will reduce your likelihood of getting a pinch flat. It will improve the handling of your bike and it will be more comfortable. The right pressure will vary between riders depending on their weight, and between bikes depending on tire size. I couldn’t find a chart that I liked online, so I made one. Below as an image.
Try these ranges, but there’s nothing wrong with experimenting. If you find that you need more pressure because your roads are really rough, or less because they are smooth, then adjust based on my suggestions.
When you are inflating your tires, give them a quick inspection for cuts, wear, or bent valve cores. Replace if there are major cuts or significant wear.
Lube and clean your chain
Lubing your chain every ride might be a bit excessive, or perfectly reasonable. It depends on the conditions that you are riding in, how long you are riding for, and what sort of chain lube you are using. However, it’s a good idea to add lubing and cleaning your chain to your daily pre-ride checklist. It’s a good habit to be in, and like inflating your tires, if you let the habit slip, then you’ll find your buddies stop inviting you on rides because of how squeaky your bike has become!
Grab your favorite lube. If you ride in a wet climate or pour buckets of sweat on the trainer, then go for a wet chain lube. Wet lubes are a bit more viscous so they are more water resistant, but tend to attract more grit so you’ll probably spend a little more time wiping it after application. You’ll also need a bit more degreaser to get it off when doing a deep clean. If you ride in a dry or arid climate, then a dry chain lube is a fine choice. They don’t last as long so you’ll need to re-apply it frequently. But they don’t attract as much dirt and break down quickly so washing it off is quite easy. There are also chain lubes that sit in between with attributes of both. ProGold’s ProLink is a great in-between chain lube that I will grab 90% of the time. When it’s wet I will use ProGold’s Xtreem lube. Do not buy aerosol chain lube (trust me).
How do to it? Spin your crank backwards while applying a fine application of the lube to the rollers (the round things in the interior of your chain). About three backwards revolutions of your crank will have you applying to the whole chain. One coat, that is it. Stop. Walk away. Pump up your tires and grab your ride snacks. After letting the lube soak into the rollers of the chain for a few minutes, take a rag and wipe off the excess. The exterior plates on the chain don’t need to be lubed. Wiping off the excess doesn’t necessarily make your bike go any faster, but it will be cleaner. And you’ll be less likely to get any cliché temporary chainring tattoos!
Inspect for damage
Give your bike a once over for damage. There is nothing worse than leaving for a ride with damage that you could have fixed at home before you left. Look for frayed shift cables, cracked derailleur housing, bent derailleur hangers, brake pad wear, tire wear (unless you did that in step 1). Unfortunately, as it is now the future, we also have to add checking the battery life of our derailleurs to the list. I have done long rides stuck in my largest gear because I didn’t replace a cable I knew was damaged or a battery died that I could have charged (yes, I have made both of those mistakes, multiple times). If you find something, address it. If you can fix it yourself, then go for it, or seek professional help. I’m here to pass on my knowledge and help you learn from my mistakes, so feel free to ask questions! Thanks for reading!
Reid Beloni is an Expert Coach for Carmichael Training Systems and an elite bike racer in various disciplines for Organic Valley / Hiball Energy Cycling Team, benefiting globalbike. Reid has been active in many aspects of the sport for the past 12 years; racing domestically and internationally, managing a bike shop, receiving a Bachelors and Masters degrees in Exercise Science, and working as a professional coach. Reid is a longstanding member and contributor to the I Love Road Cycling VIP Facebook group. He can be contacted professionally via his email email@example.com