Tune Up Your Ride Before Your Event

Are you riding in the upcoming Gran Fondo Hundo (and perhaps competing for the dream bike)? Perhaps you’ll be riding across the state of Iowa in 44th year of RAGBRAI? Whatever cycling event you have scheduled this summer, you’ve worked to hard too end up in the SAG wagon!


Amgen Tour of California CA TOC 2016 Joy Aaron Sherrick

Prepping the SAG wagon to “sweep up” the dropped riders.

For the uninitiated, a SAG wagon (SAG stands for “support and gear”) is also known as the broom wagon. It is a support vehicle, following cyclists in a race or ride. It may carry equipment or food for the riders. The broom wagon offers mechanical support, but is most notorious for “sweeping up” the riders 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 day.



Seven Cycles SAG vehicle support

Beautiful, but sad bicycle, sitting in the back of a SAG wagon.

Whether you’re setting out to pedal 100k or 100 miles for a charity ride, to take a submax 112 mile spin on the IronMan course or tackling another race or event, you’ve devoted hours to your training.

You are ready – mentally and physically. But is your equipment ready?

When was the last time you had your bike tuned-up? What? You do your own routine bicycle maintenance? That’s great! When was the last time your bicycle was in the hands of a professional?

Despite all your effort, if your equipment fails, your day is doomed. And you are relegated to the back of the SAG wagon. Don’t let that happen.

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.

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.


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.


cassette dirty bicycle tune up pre race

Cassette – pre-wash. Eww!

Cassette Clean Bicycle Tune Up Maintenance Pre Race

Cassette – fresh out of wash tank. Shiny, shiny!


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:


Enve Wheel Wheelset CycleOps Power Tap TrueWheels

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.”


Tires/Tubes/Rim Tape

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!

Chain dirty bike wash maintenance



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.



Cassette Clean Bike Maintenance Tune Up

A clean cassette gets the thumbs up from our mechanics!

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.


See also:


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. Also check out:





Need Help? Have Questions?

Highland Park | 847-433-2453
Wilmette | 847-256-2330

  • E-Mail
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon