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Don’t let rust begin forming on your bike

We all know that nothing creates more of an eyesore on a bicycle than rust. The most common parts that rust are the bolts in the cockpit of the bicycle and the chain. The reason it shows up so readily on chains is that they are entirely steel (for the most part). Their low position on the bicycle exposes them to a lot of water and contaminants from the surface of the road. Cockpit bolts (securing the parts of your bike you touch while riding) can rust because of your sweat and hydration and their position under the body of the rider. While a rusted chain poses virtually no safety concern, it does make for poor shifting performance. It can also have a negative effect on the condition of your cassette. Rusty chains should be replaced at the earliest convenience. Bolts on the bar, stem, and top cap, on the other hand, can actually cause a safety risk. If any of these rusty bolts were to sheer due to weakening, it could result in a crash. Furthermore, rusty bolts up front can make for very difficult maintenance if they get stuck. This can cause you to need new components prematurely.

Measure to prevent rust

The best way to prevent rust is simply to give your bicycle a quick wash and wipe down after every ride. That can be a long training ride through the Texas Hill Country and/or your sprint/quarter/half at Kerrville Triathlon. Make sure to get any sweat, Gatorade, and Gu off your bike. Also, storing your bicycle in a dry place, preferably indoors, can go a long way toward keeping your bike rust-free. Finally, don’t forget to schedule an appointment with your favorite bike mechanic, James Balentine of City Limit Cycles, for regular service. He will inspect for rust and other problems, saving you headaches down the road!

Wash your bike and extend the life of its parts

This time of year it seems like you always need to wash your bike. Whether it is from rain or indoor trainer rides, it seems like your bike is always dirty, even a couple of days after you wash your bike.

Everybody knows that when you ride in the rain your bike will get dirty, but it can get just as dirty from sweat and sports drinks when riding on a trainer. Click To Tweet

Items needed to thoroughly degrease and wash your bike

1. Workstand or something to hold the bike off the ground (a rear car rack works well)
2. Brushes (I personally prefer the Finish Line Pro Brush Kit, but there are several different brush sets to choose from)
3. Bucket (Home Depot or Lowes both have cheap 5-gallon buckets)
4. Simple Green (standard green stuff is what we use at the shop)
5. Degreaser (every lube company makes one) Tip: don’t use anything real strong, it can damage the paint finish on your bike
6. Access to a garden hose (don’t use a pressure washer, the high pressure can push the grease out of the bearings)

Follow these steps

The first thing to do is put a little degreaser on the chain. Don’t use too much, a little goes a long way. Let it sit on the chain for a minute or two. Give the chain a light scrubbing and rinse it off with the hose. Next, make a Simple Green solution with about a 3 to 1 ratio of water to Simple Green. Take your big brush and use the solution to wash all the big parts of the bike (frame, fork, wheels, cranks, and derailleurs) Smaller brushes work better in the tight areas. I like to start at the front of the bike and go back so I don’t miss anything.

Use the garden hose to rinse off the entire bike. Don’t forget to wash the bar tape, saddle, and tires. These parts tend to get forgotten and they can get pretty gross if they stay dirty. Washing your tires also gives you a chance to inspect them for big cuts and pieces of glass that may be embedded in the rubber. You can let it dry outside or hand-dry it with a towel. After it has dried off you can then lube the chain and it will be ready to ride next time.

If you keep your bike clean it will prolong the life of every part on the bike and help to keep it working perfectly. Remember: a clean bike is a happy bike.

by: James Balentine, owner of City Limit Cycles, an Austin, Texas-based mobile bicycle repair company that comes to you. Balentine began working with bikes in 1990 when he was 12. He began racing mountain bikes in 1991 and BMX in 1992, winning 12 national championships before turning pro in 1999. He has worked with USA Triathlon as a mechanic for Team USA since 2004. Since 2013, Balentine has worked with the US Paratriathlon team and is their sole mechanic.

Take care of your bike and it’ll take care of you

Triathlon season is rapidly approaching for most triathletes! If you’ve been riding all winter or are brushing the cobwebs off, take the time to learn about/be reminded of a replacement timeline for the parts on your beloved road/tri bike. Whether Kerrville Tri is the only race on your calendar or you’ll close out your tri season on the most scenic triathlon course in Texas, the below replacement recommendations will help ensure your trusted ride is ready to roll when you exit T1. Keep in mind, every triathlete’s replacement timeline is different. If you ride more frequently replace your parts sooner.

Bike care replacement timeline

Bike care is as vital as training.

Tune up: once a year or as needed
Cables replaced: replace every six months or as needed
Tires: 2500 miles
Tubes: until they flat
Chain: 10-speed: every 2000 miles; 9-speed or less: every 2500 miles
Cassette: replace every 15,000 miles (if the chain is replaced regularly)
Bottom bracket: replace when loose or rough
Brake pads: replace when worn halfway through
Bearings: replace when rough
Carbon bars and seat post: replace every 1.5-2 years.
Find yourself in need of some maintenance? Contact City Limit Cycles in Austin or Jack and Adam’s Fredericksburg.

Best of luck this triathlon season.