WHY REGULAR BIKE SERVICE IS IMPORTANT
Most of us triathletes like to swim, bike, run, have fun, and that’s about it. We don’t put a lot of thought into tracking the number of hours our shoes have, how old our helmets and wetsuits are, and doing regular maintenance on our bikes. Servicing our equipment is something we need to think about on a regular basis. Maintaining your equipment is incredibly important for all three disciplines, however for many triathletes, bike maintenance is the most daunting. If you are looking to make improvements or increase your exeperience and time in this sport then regular maintenance of your equipment is important, especially the bike since that is where we spent most of our time and money as triathletes. The four main reasons for servicing your bike equipment are: performance gains, longevity, cost effectiveness, and safety.
Performance gains through equipment service is most obvious with the bike. A happy bike is a clean bike. Depending on the conditions you bike in (outdoor weather AND sweat accumulation from trainer rides), you can significantly lose drivetrain efficiency if you don’t clean and lube your chain on a regular basis. Studies show that some chain lubes can decrease drivetrain friction significantly, thus making it easier to go faster. A dirty, less efficient chain requires more power output to go the same speed. I’m partial to CeramicSpeed’s UFO Drivetrain cleaner and lube. Likewise, a rubbing brake, a slightly bent rim, or under (or over) inflated tires will slow your roll. I recommend bringing your bike into your local Playtri store for regular maintenance at least every quarter, before your “A” races, and after any crashes.
Triathletes love to hammer the bike. The mixture of this love and training in two other disciplines can make it difficult to remember to perform regular bike safety checks. Bikes are made up of a collection of nuts and bolts that can loosen and degrade over time from hard pedaling and exposure to harsh conditions. Again, drivetrain components are the best example for explaining the importance of bike service. Chains need to be replaced after a certain mileage. The more you ride, the more your bike chain stretches. Once a chain stretches past 0.75%, the chain will start damaging the cassette and chainrings. Once the cassette and chainrings are damaged and start to slip over gears, then all three need to be replaced, which can be expensive. The same is true for all nuts and bolts on your bike. If you are not checking and cleaning these on a regular basis then you are more likely to have issues with breakdown or complete failure. Having a torque wrench set at home can ensure that you aren’t over tightening bolts.
It is true that bike service can cost you money from time to time. But in the long run it can cost significantly less to perform regular maintenance than having to replace the entire drivetrain. Replacing the oil in your car is less expensive than buying a whole new engine, the same is true for your bike. Bring your bike in to your local Playtri store at least every quarter, before your “A” races, and if you have a bike crash. https://playtristore.com/pages/stores
Regular bike service is a preventive measure against riding an unsafe bike. Bikes that are serviced regularly will be tightened, inspected, and lubricated, ensuring their parts are in working order and pose no risk of seizing, breaking, or corroding. Speaking from experience as a coach and a triathlete, don’t put off bike maintenance to get a ride in. Something breaking on a ride can lead to injury and/or major damage to your bike, which will negate any performance gains, your longevity, and any money you might have saved.
Drop your bike off today at your local Playtri today to get the speed and safety you need and the TLC your bike deserves!
Jim Rowe is a Playtri Level 4 Coach, a USAT LI Certified Coach, and NASM Certified Personal Trainer who works with adult athletes of all abilities from beginners to IRONMAN World Championship qualifiers. Learn more about Jim at www.playtri.com/jim-rowe.