What You Need to Know About Bike Maintenance

Behold, the bicycle! A beautiful thing. Simple in its mechanics, easy to learn to operate, and a transportation fixture since its invention.

So why are many female triathletes so intimidated by them?

Bike Maintenance for TriathlonAs a triathlete, it’s very important to know your bike inside and out. Here are some simple things you should know about bike maintenance before the next time you go for a ride.

1. Know How to Fix a Puncture

Yes, it is annoying, but even if you’re the luckiest cyclist in the history of two wheels, you will one day get a puncture. You could hire a team of professionals to follow you in a support car, plan to walk to the nearest bike shop miles away, or hope that some other rider will come to your aid, but wouldn’t knowing how to fix it yourself just be easier? Fixing a puncture isn’t difficult, but it does require practice to do it correctly – and importantly on race day, to do it quickly. Practice at home so that when the time comes, you’re ready with your tyre levers. Here’s an article and video that will help!

* And remember, if you do find yourself with a puncture during a race, you have to fix it yourself. Wouldn’t you rather learn now than to find your race ruined by a pothole or a little piece of glass?

2. Know How to Use a CO² Cartridge

You can carry around a hand pump and spend lots of time pumping your tyres when the inevitable puncture happens, or you can learn to use a CO² cartridge. A CO² cartridge contains compressed gas that can inflate a tyre almost instantly when used properly. They do require an adaptor nozzle, but are more compact and quicker to use than the pump method. Of course, many cyclists do still carry a frame pump for ‘just in case’ situations!

You could easily get by with using your pump, but knowing how to use a cartridge could make your load lighter in a race and save valuable time as well. Here’s how.

3. Know How to Communicate with Your Bike Shop

Triathlon Bike Maintenance

It’s not always the case, but bike shops can be intimidating. Knowledge is power! If you go into the shop and say ‘something is wrong with the medal thingy on my bike’, the roadie* behind the counter will most likely discount you as a newbie and treat you in a way that will only reinforce the feeling of intimidation. Get to know what’s what on your bike. Know your top tube from your dérailleur from your rear dropout.

You will feel more confident, plus you’ll save time and potentially money by knowing what you need and how to ask for it.

4. Save Yourself a Trip to the Bike Shop

Now that you know how to communicate with your bike shop, wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to? Quite a few repairs can be avoided with simple (and regular) at home maintenance. 220 Triathlon offers this article with some excellent tips.

* lingo for a cyclist who rides road cycles; often obsessed with bicycles, gear, weight of components, and the shaving of (frequently his!) legs before an important race.