For a huge bike adventure like the Sydney to Surfers your bike needs to be in tip-top condition before you start the ride. You will be riding an average of 140kms a day over 7 days through all types of terrain – local roads, freeways and country roads and you need to make sure that not only you, but your bike is going to make it.
Here is a simple checklist to review to ensure your bike is ready for the ride!
- Poorly maintained tyres (and tubes) increase the chance of getting a flat.
- Regularly check your tyres for any cuts, splits, bald spots or sharp objects like glass, wire etc.
- Ensure that you ride with your tyres pumped to the recommended pressure.
- Always carry at least one spare tube with you and a pump or gas canister.
- Each night of the ride build in a routine to check your tyres for cuts and nicks, small sharp objects like glass, wire etc. A small pair of tweezers in your ride kit or Day Pack will help with getting out any small bits of glass.
For the Sydney to Surfers it is recommended that you start with new tyres for the 1,000km ride and bring at least 3 spare tubes and 1 spare tyre – these should be put into your Day Pack so that they are easily accessible if needed. Your Day Pack is transported in the Support Vehicle every day.
- Having a clean and well lubricated drive chain is one of the simplest ways to make your ride smoother and more enjoyable.
- Prior to the ride (and regularly) you should spray bicycle specific degreaser onto your chain and gear cluster and using a disposable cloth, firmly hold the chain at the bottom of the derailleur and spin the pedals backwards. Continue to spin the pedals until you have removed all of the built up dirt and grime.
- Allow 15-20mins for the degreasing agent to evaporate and fully dry.
- Apply bicycle chain specific lubricant, in a similar fashion to the degreaser.
- Be sure to wipe off any excess with a clean disposable cloth.
- Regularly lube your chain particularly if you have been riding in the rain.
For the Sydney to Surfers you should pack your own chain lubricant, degreaser, wipes/cloths to do some regular cleaning and servicing.
Having efficient, functional brakes is one of the most important things to check on your bike and is essential for a safe riding. Adjusting brakes can be difficult so if you are not sure what to do have your bike serviced at a bike shop.
- Regularly check brake pads for wear and tear. Most pads will have a ‘wear-line’ that indicates remaining pad life.
- Make sure that the wheel is fully seated in each dropout and aligned so there is even space between each pad and the wheel.
- Make sure that the brake cable is the correct length so that the lever does not come back too close to the handlebar.
Once your chain is clean, check to see if your gears run smoothly.
- Without a bike stand this is most easily checked by riding slowly on flat ground.
- Shift through the gears, one at a time, while pedalling slowly and consistently.
- Check that there is nothing interrupting the cable like a broken strand or dirt.
Steering, handlebars and stem
Proper adjustment of the front end of your bicycle will ensure a safe ride and will help increase your control of your bike.
- Regularly check that the front wheel is in alignment with the handlebars and stem.
- Ensure that all of the bolts on the stem and handlebar are evenly tightened.
- Hold the front brake and slowly rock the bike backwards and forwards. There should be no movement in between any parts in the front end of the bike.
General cleaning on the ride
It’s likely that at some point on the ride you will experience rain! So pack in some wipes and dry cloths so you are able to give your bike a clean down if this occurs.
A final note
If you don’t feel confident about servicing your own bike, have your bike serviced at a local bike shop. Have your bike serviced regularly. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes to have everything running smoothly.
A service doesn’t generally include cleaning your bike, but it should include a careful look over the whole bike for cracks in the frame or any safety issues. You should regularly check for this too.
If you do a lot of kms, don’t be suspicious if you’re told you need a new chain and cluster. The chain and cogs of the gear system, particularly the rear set, wear out and must be replaced – as often as every year on bikes that are ridden regularly.
Riding with a dry or rusty chain quickly wears out the system. It’s usually not possible to replace the chain and not the rear cogs – they are generally wear together. You may need new front cogs too. You’re likely to need new brake pads and might need new cables for your brakes and your gears.
Ask for a quote for the service beforehand – your bike mechanic should be able to tell what needs to be replaced after a quick scan over the bike – and also ask your bike mechanic to call you before replacing any parts in addition to the ones agreed in the quote.