You’ve been training all summer. Miles building on miles. You’ve made sacrifices. You’ve called it early many nights. You’ve set your alarm for early morning rides. You’ve done the work. YOU’VE GOT THIS. But is your bike ready?
Whatever cycling event you have scheduled this fall – whether it’s a charity century ride you’ll be doing at a leisurely pace or a triathlon you have plans to dominate – you’ve worked to hard too end up in the SAG wagon!
A SAG wagon (SAG stands for “support and gear”) is also known as the broom wagon. It is a support vehicle that is on course during a race or ride. It can carry equipment or food for the riders, but is usually there to provide mechanical support. Its most notorious function is to follow the ride and “sweep up” those who are unable to finish due to physical or technical reasons.
No rider wants to end up in the SAG wagon.
Whether you can see it or not, it’s lurking there behind you. Sometimes you can feel its pull. Sometimes you swear you can hear its siren song. “Come inside… Relax… No pedaling required… We have air conditioning…”
But you trained too hard for this! You’re not going to let the infamous SAG wagon ruin your fall event.
You’ve worked hard to fine tune your body for your event. But what about your equipment? When was the last time you had your bike tuned-up? Was it back in the spring and oh-so-many miles ago? Think about all you and your bike have been through since then.
Even if you’re confident enough to do your own routine bicycle maintenance (Hooray for the DIYers!), it’s a good idea to let a professional look over your bike before your big day. There are plenty of fixes that can be caught by a professional performing a once-over on your bike. In some cases, a really inexpensive fix can mean the difference between an enjoyable day and a ride of shame in the SAG wagon.
Despite all your effort, if your equipment fails, your day is over. You don’t want to end up in the back of the SAG wagon.
If you regularly clean and re-lubricate your bike and bring your bike in for regular tune-ups, you may just need a Race Check before your event. If it’s been a while since your last full tune-up or if you’ve put a lot of miles on your bike since then, it’s probably time for a Standard Tune-Up. If you want to ride on a bike that performs like its brand new, our newest tune-up option, the Complete Overhaul, is for you.
Why do I need my bike cleaned?
A Higher Gear mechanic points out:
A lot of people think, “I don’t need my bike washed.” They believe that the bike wash is purely cosmetic. But it’s not. The bike wash has a mechanical value. The wash is not just about getting the bike cleaned. It’s about cleaning out the pivot points and the small parts. It prevents rust build-up and breakdowns. When we wash a bike at Higher Gear, all the components come off and the individual parts are inspected. It happens over several steps and each step allows us, as mechanics, to really take a look at each component.
Our mechanic likens it to the cleaning of a dry erase board. “It’s like using a wet cloth to clean off the board versus using your finger.” How would you prepare your white board for the first day of school?
While your bicycle is in for a tune-up, some of the areas that will receive attention, that could prevent disaster on your ride, include:
If a wheel is out of true enough, it will start rubbing against your brake in one or more spots during its rotation. But sometimes, you don’t get this early signal. You want your spoke tension to be even. Our mechanic tells us, “Riding on a wheel that is out of dish will accelerate further problems. One loose spoke, over the course of a ride or a race, can pull more spokes out of true. And that’s how you start breaking spokes.”
Ensure that your tires don’t have dry rot buildup. Make sure you have tires that will last through your ride. If you’ve had issues with flats during your training season, it’s worth having your rim tape inspected – an insanely inexpensive fix to what can cause multiple flats in the same day.
Do you have a torque wrench? Accidents can be avoided with a headset that is securely and properly tightened with the proper tension.
Do you regularly clean and re-lubricate your drivetrain, especially after riding in wet or dusty conditions? A Standard Tune-Up includes a thorough cleaning of your bike’s moving parts. This prevents rust from building up and your components from breaking down. It also keeps your bike quiet, so you don’t hear clicking sounds during your ride.
Hint: If you’re hearing any noise – other than the sound of the wind through your helmet – when you ride, your bike is overdue for a Tune-Up!
In addition to needing constant cleaning and re-lubricating, chains also need to be regularly checked for wear. A simple test makes sure your chain is in riding condition and won’t slip gears. In a Tune-Up, we’ll make sure your chain is moving smoothly through all the gears, so you have access to your full range of gears when you need them.
Brake pads that are worn can lead to the inability to brake when you need it. If your brakes are unresponsive, it could be due to a worn braking surface or improperly aligned brakes. Misaligned brakes can also have the opposite effect – constant breaking, so that you are putting far more energy in to pedaling than you are getting out. That does not make for a fun day!
Cables that are frayed or otherwise compromised can break or be unresponsive. Cables are inexpensive and should be replaced at least every other year, depending on the amount of riding you’re doing.
That said, cables require a break-in period. Make sure you schedule your pre-event tune-up with enough time to get your bicycle back and ride it a solid week or so – so you can bring your bike in and have the cables tightened.
Regular bicycle tune-ups are part of good a good maintenance plan. Even if you perform most of your routine maintenance at home, a Tune-Up up Higher Gear allows our professional mechanics the opportunity to look over your entire bike. It’s entirely possible that a quick, inexpensive fix can prevent disaster on event day.
Our advice: Don’t let a $10 part get in the way of a great ride or race!
You’ve done the work to make it to the starting line. Make sure your bike is ready to make it to the finish.
- To Tune Up or Not to Tune Up
- D-I-Y Bicycle Maintenance
- Tune-Ups and Overhauls
- Our New Tune-Up Option
If you have an event coming up, don’t wait until the week before to schedule your tune-up. Give us a call to schedule it in advance. While you’re in, pick up all your Fall Century Ride Essentials!