Bike 'Quick Check'

Bike 'Quick Check'

An obvious statement to make, but your bike is most probably the highest piece of tech equipment you will have for Triathlon. Goggles, swim cap and wetsuit, yes very technically advanced in this day and age, but with a lot less to go wrong than your bike. Similarly, running shoes and tri kit don't come close to the amount of attention that your bike will demand. The first piece of advice I could give you is that if you are not accustomed to working on, or the workings of a bicycle, then take it to your local bike shop for any work that it may need. Don't chance it. Tarmac is very hard and unforgiving.

11 year old bike. Regular maintenance has meant that it was original until this re-build, and the re-build was more of a want rather than a need.

Your bike works very hard for you so keep it in good shape. Being stranded a long way from home because of the lack of maintenance is all on you, and that loving parent, husband, wife or partner that comes out to collect you is going to need some serious payback. Being stranded a long way from home due to a mechanical, even with good maintenance, will also require payback of some sort, but the difference between the two scenarios is that the second one will still have 'talking to each other' involved.

First tip:

keep it clean. Wash your bike regularly. If you have to tinker with it out on the road, the last thing you need is very greasy hands on your nice clean 'yellow' bar tape. (Yes, I have yellow)


Somewhat important. This is particular to rim brakes. Check the wear of the brake block. Brake blocks are not an expensive item, but are very important to keep in top condition. Firstly check the rim surface for any concaved or deep grooved wear. Many rim manufactures have wear indicators of one description or another on the braking surface of the rim. Generally they are recessed dots or lines and are sometimes coloured black. In the event you have bad wear, grooving or the wear indicators are no longer visible it would be advisable to get a professional opinion from your local bike store. Once you have checked the rim check the brake block. If the block is convexing and the rim concaving, you have let the wear get too far. If you have grooving on the rim, check brake block and clear any grit that may be lodged in the teeth (grooves in the brake block). If the block is worn down to within a few millimeters of the housing a new set is recommended. Check for alignment and make sure the block is making contact with the braking surface of the rim only. Adjust so there is a slight toe in set-up of the brake blocks. Check that the blocks / housings are the correct way up. You may think this is an odd comment, but ask any mechanic and you will be told that it is not that uncommon. Make sure both brake cables are free moving and not damaged.

I know which I'd go for.

Left: coming to the end of its serviceable usefulness.

Right: trust & confidence.

Incorrectly installed brake block.

Tyre guide (fin like bit) pointing upwards. Correctly fitted block has the rotation of the wheel pushing the insert into the housing. The incorrect fitting has the force pulling the insert out. In the event of any failure of the screw or the insert rubber splits you will end up with no stopping power.(Not likely but you just never know)

Correctly installed brake block.

Tyre guide points downward. I hear you ask 'what is the tyre guide for? As it says on the box. Guides the wheel into place during quick changes, namely during competition.


Inspect the wear level and / or damage of your tyres. A worn tyre may still be good for many miles, but are more prone to resulting in a puncture due to the thinness of the tyre rubber. More importantly, worn tyres offer less than ideal grip so replace when needed not when it is too late.

'Would you do 40mph downhill on this?' Well, someone was. (and with 1 set of brake block up-side-down)


Inspect axles for play. Grab hold of the top of the wheel and move the wheel side to side. If there is any play in the bearings of the axle you will feel a slight knocking. Adjust if needed. Check for loose spokes by tapping with a plastic or wood dowel. The sound should be even and pinged, any dull sound would indicate a loose spoke. If you have experience of truing wheels, go ahead and sort it yourself. If not, go straight to your local. It could go very wrong if you don't have the skill.


(Components used to transfer the power generated by your legs to the road via the back wheel). Service the drive mechanism by degreasing the chain, rear cog, chainring and derailleur. Use a good quality lubricant appropriate to the weather conditions you will be riding in. Dry lube is thinner in consistency, picks up less grit in dry weather, but washes off in the wet. Wet lube is thicker and stick, repels water in the wet, but attracts more grit in the dry. Wax lube is more of a dual weather lube, but needs reapplying more often. Ceramic lubes, albeit a bit more costly, are worth a consideration. Check for play in the crank arms and bottom bracket (axle). Adjust if needed or replace bearings. Check the wear of the chain and teeth of all cogs. Cogs are worn when they start to look a bit like a dolphin's dorsal fin, become very pointy and slope backward. You may also find the chain slips when applying force to the pedals. Test all gears, after servicing and before heading out. Don't forget to check your pedals and gear cables at this point.

Cockpit & Seat:

Headset checking is easily done. A loose headset could translate into poor handling, and damage to bearings and / or frame. Turn the handlebars to around 90° to the frame. Rock the bars from front to back relative to the frame. Any play in the headset will be felt as a slight knocking. Adjust and re-check. Remember to loosen the stem to steerer bolts before tightening the headset top bolt. Correctly tensioned headset should turn freely without any play. Check that the stem to bar clamp is sufficiently tensioned to prevent the bar dropping on impact of dumps and holes. Test that the seat clamp, at both the frame insert and seat rail, are correctly tightened. Many bike and component manufactures stamp the torque tolerance on the part, so invest in a torque wrench for the job. When using a torque wrench tighten until the pressure is reached and the wrench clicks. DO NOT go for a second click. Check out the video.


By Coach Trevor

If you are interested in being coached by Trevor or any other Tri Training Harder coach, please contact us by completing this


or contact us at

email us.