By Rick Schultz
- NEVER lay your bike down on the right (drive) side.
- Why not? Because the rear derailleur hanger can be easily bent which will cause all kinds of shifting problems.
- ALWAYS use (at least) 2 contact areas when leaning your bike against something. Rear wheel + Saddle, Rear wheel + Handlebars, Handlebars + Saddle, etc.
- Why? With only one contact point, it is easy for the bike to slip & slide, falling to the ground after making some nice big scratches/scrapes on the frame.
- NEVER lean your bike’s top tube against anything.
- Why not? See above. Bikes always want to move and when they do, you will end up with at least one big scratch on the top tube. Use the saddle/rear wheel/handlebars when leaning the bike against something.
- NEVER sit on your top tube when stopped at a red light.
- It might look cool, but the middle of the top tube is the weakest part of a carbon frame.
- NEVER let anyone squeeze your carbon frame.
- Why not? I see this all of the time, someone coming up to a carbon frame and squeezing it. I will slap their hand away before they touch my frames. See above. Doing this can easily delaminate the carbon fiber from the inside severely weakening the integrity of the frame.
- NEVER clamp your top tube when putting you bike in a work stand.
- Why not? See photo. This is the weakest part of the frame. Clamp the bike by the seat post which is the strongest part of the bike.
- Now that the bike has been sitting over winter, either unused or greatly used on a trainer, it’s time to check the integrity of the bike. Before summer get really rolling, check,
- Brake cables – check that there is no rust, no fraying, smooth lever and caliper operation, no ‘hanging up’.
- Shifter cables – see above.
- Handlebar tape – remove old, dirty, sweaty, nasty handlebar tape and retape with clean new tape. BUT inspect and check the integrity of the handlebars. With aluminium bars, there can be quite a bit of corrosion, if there is, toss them in the garbage and get some new ones.
- Tires – Since the bike has been sitting awhile, the tires might show signs of rubber rotting or cracking along the sidewalls. Time for some new tires as well.
- Steering – check the that handlebars turn easily and, when on the ground, check if any clunking or play in the headset. Might be time to get some new headset bearings.
- Wheels – with bike in the stand and clamped by the seat post, spin the wheels, and check how the bearings feel as well as how true the wheels are spinning. Time for a tune up?
- Pedals – check that they spin easily and there is no play in the bearings.
- Cleats – Check the condition, check the tightness of the cleat bolts. Last thing you want to happen is going hard up a hill and your cleat fails.
- Bottom Bracket Bearings (BBB) – This is kind of a hard one to check since BBB’s will usually spin smoothly by turning the crank by hand but will usually start showing signs of wear once applying load. If they have been in there awhile, might be a good idea to replace them.
- Chain and rest of Drivetrain – Check chain for rust and/or wear. If you let the chain run past its useful life, it will start damaging the rest of the drivetrain, chainrings and cassette which are more expensive to replace than a chain. In most cases (Shimano), an 11-speed chain will work perfectly, run smoother and last longer on anything 9-speed and 10-speed.
- (Carbon) Frame and (Carbon) Forks – Check the frame and fork for any visual damage. An old standby is the tap test where you use an actual ‘tapper’ or you can use a quarter to tap on the frame listening for dead spots which would indicate delamination. See Carbon fiber testing – Wikipedia
Coach Rick Schultz is an avid cyclist who trains, races and coaches in Southern California. Rick is an engineer by trade, and in addition to being a coach, he’s a bike fitter and prolific product reviewer. He’s the author of Stretching & Core Strengthening for the Cyclist and Bike Fit 101: Your Toolset for a Great Bike Fit in the RBR eBookstore. Check his product reviews website, www.biketestreviews.com, and his coaching site, www.bikefitnesscoaching.com. Click to read Rick’s full bio.