With the annual stage race Battle on the Border less then 2 weeks away, now is the time to ensure your machine is ready to roll. There is nothing worse than training for an event only to be let down by your equipment. Here is a list of the crucial points worth checking.
- Tyre Wear - Check your tyres thoroughly for any cuts, or signs of degradation. Degradation usually shows itself by the tread of the tyre starting to crack.
- Chain Wear - A stretched chain means gear slip, you don't want this. If you are running Campagnolo, and have a vernier at your disposal, it is quite easy to check your chain for wear. Count out 6 links and measure the length of the chain, if it is over 132.6mm your chain is worn. A new campag chain will measure 132.2mm. If you do not have a specific chain checker for Shimano and Sram chains, a simple way to check wear is to shift the chain into the big ring on the front and the lowest gear on the back (ie 25 or 28t). When the chain is in this position, attempt to lift the chain off the front chain ring. There should be no give in the chain in this position. If there is it would suggest that your chain is worn out. (Again, if you run Campy, then be sure to have it fixed and race ready before you head to remote race locations as the likelihood of finding spare parts is poor).
- Cassette and chain ring wear - If you have a worn chain, you may also have worn out your cassette and chain rings. The teeth on your cassette and chain rings should look slightly squared off on the top, if you notice that they are starting to look like sharks teeth then they are worn out. On the cassette an easy way to do this is look at the middle gears, and compare this to the 11 or 12 tooth cog, typically most people will be riding in the middle of their cassette for the majority of their rides, so these are the cogs that will show wear first.
- Cable wear - Deterioration of cables is the unseen destroyer on race day. If you are running a mechanical groupset, a fraying cable can creep up on you and suddenly snap when it is under load. It would be a good idea to completely remove your cables and check for any kinks, or frayed sections. If you have internal cables make sure you pull a sleeve through from the exit point to the entry point near the lever before removing the cables, otherwise you may spend more time than necessary trying to reroute your cables. Also be sure that your cables are not crossed inside the frame. It is amazing how easily this can happen. It is not always obvious when cabling a bike, but the shifting will turn very bad, very quickly if you accidentally do this. When pulling cables through a frame, make sure to check that they don't pull on each other before tensioning them to the derailleur.
- Brake pad wear - This is an easy one, as most brake pads have wear indicators. Make sure you have enough meat on your brake pads, and of course if you are swapping to carbon wheels chuck in your carbon specific brake pads.
- Bartape - This is purely aesthetic, but getting to the start line with crisp new bar tape always makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Words by: Joshua Prete