Look after your bike and it will look after you
Look after your bike and it’ll look after you
We spoke to Hotchillee spanner maestro Glen Whittington and got his top tips for keeping your bike running smoothly while preparing for and during events.
1.The basic M-Check
Learning how to do a basic M-check should be a priority for all riders. It’s a quick and easy way before you ride to double check that your bike is safe to ride.
There are loads of YouTube tutorials such as the one linked below but, especially when it comes to things like identifying play in a headset or how tight quick release skewers should be done up, nothing beats being shown for real. Your local bike shop should be willing to show you the basics or, if joining one of the Hotchillee Monthly Rides, ask a Ride Captain to take you through it.
2.Clean your bike
During the winter and spring, I’d recommend giving your bike a clean after every ride. It should only take 5-10 minutes but a little and often approach will save you having to undertake an epic clean once your bike has got to the point of being unrideable. It also save on component wear and likely replacement. Have your cleaning kit ready to go and guilt trip you once you get home.
Don’t focus on just making your frame nice and shiny, although this may look nice, it’s the drivetrain that really needs some love. If you do nothing else, clean/degrease, dry and re-lube your chain.
This little and often approach to bike cleaning really suits a dry-lube – even if it’s wet and muddy and I use it on cyclo-cross race bikes! It’ll attract far less grime and grit and, as you’ll be reapplying regularly, it doesn’t matter that it only does its job for a couple of hundred kilometres or so. Be honest with yourself though and, if you’re not going to follow my little and often cleaning advice, a thick and heavy wet lube might be more appropriate but you won’t be doing yourself any favours. Save your expensive wax lubes for the summer and key events but do give it a few test runs first.
Once you’ve cleaned your bike, run another M-check before you put it away so that you don’t get any surprises when you next take it out to ride.
3.Always carry the basics
Even on a fully supported ride like the Hotchillee events, don’t rely 100% on the Ride Captains and the mechanical support. Still carry a spare tube, tyre levers, some CO2 and a multi-tool – especially on a big event, you might well be able to get yourself going quicker than waiting for support to arrive.
On a gravel event, you might not see the mechanics so often so need to be a bit more self-sufficient. Chain links are good to have and, if running tubeless, some plugs, darts or worms are essential. The one thing I’d strongly recommended you to bring on any off-road even is a spare mech hanger. We have most things in our box of tricks but can’t carry mech hangers for every brand and model of bike.
4.On the event
As above, pre and post ride M-checks are a really good habit to get into.
If you’ve signed up for a supported event, we don’t expect you to go in search of water to fully clean your bike but getting into the routine of giving it a bit of a wipe down, running the chain through a rag and applying some lube will help keep things running smoothly.
Despite all the romantic images in Rouleur and such like of mechanics working until the early hours, it’s not actually much fun. If you do notice something not quite right with your bike, let us know as soon as you can. Even at lunch, we can make a note, take your number and get on it as soon as you get in. Mechanical problems don’t miraculously vanish overnight on their own. The sooner we know about them, the more likely that we’ll be able to sort them.