Pre-ride checks: How to prepare your bike for race!

Pre-ride checks: How to prepare your bike for race!

By Bike School Asia

You’ve trained hard and are prepared for race day. How about your bike? Don’t let a mechanical problem ruin your experience.

Use our simple ‘ABCD Quick Check’ checklist to give your bike a pre-race tune-up.

First, clean your bike.

Give your bike a good once-over. Look for cracks in the frame and other obvious signs of wear. Clean off all the sticky, gummy residue from accumulated sports drinks, energy gels, and perspiration. Having a clean bike not only boosts your morale and confidence and makes you look and feel prepared, it will also improve your performance — particularly how well you can shift through your gears. Pay close attention to your drivetrain (cranks, chainrings, chains and cassette) and clean them well.

A for air and everything there…

Start with your tires and then check everything related to your wheels in general.

  • Inspect the tires for cuts, tears or bald spots in the tread that might increase the likelihood of a flat
  • Ensure adequate inflation by following the manufacturers’ specifications (usually printed on the tire sidewall)
  • Check the wheels to make sure they are true (straight)
  • Squeeze the spokes to feel for loose spokes or uneven tension, to avoid broken spokes
  • Push the rim side to side, feeling for excessive movement or rattles that might indicate loose hub bearings


B for brakes and headset bearings…

  • Replace brake pads if they’ve gone past the wear line. If you train with a alloy wheel but race with a carbon wheel, ensure you’ve got the appropriate brake pads installed
  • Align and center your brake pads so each pad properly contacts the rim surface
  • Adjust the cable tension so that it doesn’t take a huge amount of pressure to engage the brakes
  • Holding on to the front brake, rock the bike forward and backward to check for any knocking that could indicate a loose headset


C for chains, cranks and cassette

  • After you’ve degreased and cleaned your chain, apply a couple of drops of chain lube to the rollers of each link, wiping off any excess when you’re done
  • Check the bottom bracket bearings — grab your crank arms and rock them side to side to feel for looseness
  • Check that chainring bolts are secure
  • Inspect the teeth on chainrings and cassettes for burrs or bent teeth
  • Wiggle the cassette to check for bad bearings or a loose lock-ring
  • Replace cracked cable housing and frayed cables
  • Clean and lube the cable guide on the underside of your bottom bracket
  • Make sure pedals are correctly installed and can spin freely without rattling


D for derailleurs and a drop-test

  • Check your shifting — the front and rear derailleurs should shift evenly and effortlessly between all the gears
  • Check that the chain doesn’t fall off the chainrings or cassette when shifting
  • If you switch your cassette or have made other gearing adjustments, the derailleurs might need adjusting. If you aren’t comfortable giving your derailleurs a tune-up, make an appointment to see our service department Garage B, or take a maintenance class with us before your race to get it right
  • Once everything is dialled in, lift the bike slightly off the ground and drop it while listening for any odd knocks, clunks or rattles


Quick Check

  • Are quick release levers all tight, closed, and facing the right direction?
  • Are stem bolts, seat rails, seat posts and water bottle cage bolts all tightened and torqued?
  • Have you got your spare tube(s), pump and CO2 cartridge and inflator?

The ABCD Quick Check is a quick run-through of your bike’s most crucial working parts and is not a replacement for proper routine maintenance.

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Bike School Asia can be found at

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