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Getting your bike mechanically ready for the MS Melbourne Cycle 2017 and other events

Getting your bike mechanically ready for the MS Melbourne Cycle 2017

Written by Mike from The Rapid Wrench Melbourne, Mobile Bicycle Mechanics

The MS (Multiple Sclerosis) Melbourne Cycle charity ride in 2017 is slowly coming nearer. So the charity has asked The Rapid Wrench to provide the riders with some information on how to prepare for the event.

There are many things to prepare for ahead of any bicycle event. One of those things is making sure your bike is mechanically sound. Fortunately this is easy if you are pro-active by getting your steed ready before you make it to the (literal) last minute queue at our mechanic stand! (This queue happened the last two years).

We have put together a check list that you may use to help you know what to look for in terms of parts wear, safety concerns and general roadworthiness. These tips will help you learn more about how a bike works and wears, will save you time and money, and ensure you have a trouble-free event!

We start with some bicycle condition spotting.

Tires: Worn tires are more susceptible to punctures and offer less grip.

1. Inflate your tires to the recommended pressure the night before the event (shown as PSI on the tire walls). If they aren't inflated properly you will have to work harder, while also wearing out your tires and risking a pinch flat!

- Make sure your tire has adequate tread. The tread should not be bald- any patterns in the tire should not run down to the flat carcass of the tire. If you have a road based tire without a tread pattern, place your finger on top of the tire and also look across the top of the tire. If you can feel a flat spot with your finger or see it by eye, then your tire is definitely ready to be swapped.

2. Check for any serious cracking or splits, this is a sign of the tire's old age.

3. Remove any embedded shards of glass from the tire. These may cause a puncture on a ride. Be careful not to cause a puncture while using a pick, and wear eye protection- the glass will shoot out!

Brakes: Excessive wear or badly adjusted brakes will compromise your ability to brake effectively and if they are too far gone could damage your wheel rims or tires.

1. Safety first. Pull your brake levers nice and tight- as tight as you would during emergency braking. Your brake cables should be fastened tight enough to not slip. The cables should be tight enough that the levers don't touch the bars or crush your fingers when pulling them hard. Pump the brakes on and off- both levers should be set up to feel light to pull, smooth, and feel similar from left to right. If one feels a bit off, get it checked out by a mechanic.

2. Spot the brake pads. They have little grooves in them, and usually, a visible wear marker that shows their remaining life.

3. Pull the brake lever while spotting the brake pads. They should be sitting flush against the rim when the lever is pulled. Make sure the pads don't hit the tire or run off the rim at all.

4. A clean rim is a good rim, and a lot quieter too! Clean them if dirty.

Chain and Gears: Bikes have open style drive-trains, so they always pick up lots of muck and grease. Here's how to keep those grease stains off your calves and make your bike look, sound, and work great.

1. Grease loves to hang around your drive-train. Wipe down your chain, rear jockey wheels and front chain-rings with a rag. You can also hold a thin section of rag taut, and floss the rings of your rear sprockets.

2. Lube your chain (only after cleaning it up, as above). This is the single most effective way to maintain your bicycle and make the drive-train last longer- it will be smoother and quieter too! Buy 'dry' chain lube from your bicycle store. Lean your rear wheel against a wall while rotating your pedals backward. While rotating, squeeze a smooth trail of lube over every chain pin. Allow it to soak for a minute while rotating, then spend another 1-2 minutes removing as much excess as possible with a rag. All done!

3. Pop your bike into a mechanics stand or even simply ride it! Run through all the gears you have, one at a time, nice and slowly, making sure not to cross your chain too much! Make sure all gears work properly. If not, you'll have to see your local bike mechanic. A badly shifting drive train makes hard progress for most rides, and wears components!


1. Hold one wheel at a time in the air, then spin the wheels. Look at the gap where the rim passes the brake pads or a section of frame/fork. If there are any up/down or side to side wobbles, it's a good decision to get them trued by a professional mechanic. Rims that hit the brake pads will slow you down, and provide bad braking. The problem could also get worse if not treated soon.

2. Check for broken or loose spokes by gently squeezing every set of spokes together. It will be easy to tell which ones are a problem. See a professional to get any issues sorted! It's usually cheap to fix!

Saddle and handlebars: Lets look at how comfortable you are.

1. Check the angle of your saddle. If you were to place a level or ruler on top it should sit flat (with most saddles/riders). If it's flat, but still not comfortable then you could experiment with raising or tilting it, or even trying a new saddle. Finding one that works your bum can be hard, but there are plenty of options.

2. Make sure your seat is set at the right height. A saddle too low can cause knee pain, while a saddle too high could cause calf strain (or have you end up falling on your side when trying to stop on uneven ground!). When you pedal, your legs should be almost straight on the downwards revolution, when you're sitting and your pedal is at the down-most point.

Lastly but importantly, get your bike booked in for a service from a professional mechanic service. While these checks are perfect for keeping your bike in great condition and making you a more aware rider, there is no substitute for a quality periodic service so that any other issues can be spotted before they become a real problem.

The Rapid Wrench Melbourne crew are a mobile mechanic service who will cover the entirety of Melbourne. They reliable, friendly, can work on ANY bike at ANY place, and don't cost extra compared to a bike store. Experience the mobile convenience by booking a service with The Rapid Wrench on 0416 177 802, or email

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