Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Words I will always remember my old canoeing coach sharing frequently during my school days. You’ve probably heard those words too, and for good reason! The same rule of life comes into play when you’re approaching a stage race such as the KAP sani2c. Don’t skimp on your preparation and you’ll give yourself a far better shot at having an incredible riding experience, trouble free!
Our bicycles are complicated toys that certainly require at least a little attention to keep on spinning smoothly. Things like grips, tires, brake pads, and drivetrain parts need replacing more regularly than other bits. Bearings require grease, brakes need a bleed every year or so. There is much to think about but if you stay on top of your admin, the reward is a smooth quiet ride and plenty of happy miles!
Below you will find our essential checklist for ensuring your bicycle is in tip top condition for your upcoming sani2c stage race. Most of these items won’t necessarily need attention (unless you’ve really neglected your bike) but it is worth going over each point to make sure you don’t miss anything that could ruin an otherwise blissful ride!
Find out more about the ride and enter sani2c here: sani2c.co.za
Essential pre-sani2c stage race bicycle prep checklist
The heart of the bike and usually quite light on maintenance. If you hear any creaking, get it into a bike shop for a re-greasing of the headset and bottom bracket bearings.
Full suspension mountain bikes are increasingly popular, but the added stability, traction, and comfort comes with some responsibility on our side! Regular oil changes every 50-100 hours of riding will give the best performance and longevity results and checking in on your air pressures, compression, and rebound settings every 1 to 2 months will ensure you’re getting the performance you paid for out of your suspension. Cheap suspension with a good setup is better than good suspension with a bad setup.
- If your suspension hasn’t had a service in the last 6 months or so, it is worth getting your local bike shop to do their regular oil change and check the seals.
- We recommend checking your suspension pressures every couple of months to ensure that they stay consistent. If you’ve never paid much attention to your suspension setup, you could unlock a whole world of performance from your bike very easily! Watch this video and get a hand from your local bike shop if you need to. It’s a 10 minute job!
When your gears are working well, they just about never cross your mind. As soon as something is out of alignment, it will be all-consuming! Pay careful attention here.
- Cables stretch over time. If your gears aren’t shifting crisply and your cable hasn’t been replaced in a while, it may be the culprit
- The little part that connects your derailleur to the frame is called a hanger. It is designed to bend in the event of an impact and preserve your derailleur. If yours is bent, it may be upsetting your shifting. They can be straightened, or replaced.
- Your derailleur cage is also susceptible to warping. A handy mechanic can get it straightened again or if it is beyond recovery you’ll be able to find a replacement part.
- Chains wear out faster than the rest of the drivetrain. If you don’t have a chain ruler to measure its wear, your local bike shop will. Once it has stretched 0.5mm, it’s time to start thinking about a new chain before the old one damages your cassette and chainrings.
Brakes and grips
Brake pads wear out, rotors eventually do as well, and your brake oil becomes contaminated over time. sani2c has some long descents that will put your fingers and brakes to the test! If you value coming to a stop before you hit the next tree or rock you encounter, make sure these guys are in tip top condition.
- Check to see how the wear is doing on your brake pads. If there is less than 1.5mm of the braking material remaining, you should look at a fresh set. They aren’t designed to be worn right down to the backplate.
- If your brake levers have lost that responsive pull, or are hitting the handlebar before reaching full power, they may need to be tuned up a bit or undergo a full bleed that your local bike shop will be able to handle. This should be done annually at least.
- Having the right grips can be a game changer for your ride! If yours are uncomfortable at all, treat yourself to a fresh set that suits your hand size and has suitable cushioning.
Tires and wheels
Our tires are the unsung heroes of the bicycle system. Their bearing on your bike’s feel and performance is massive and small changes in air pressure, tread pattern, compound and tire casing can alter your ride for better or worse. You can find our guide on how to select the right tires here.
- If your tread is worn out or the casing is leaking air, it is definitely time for some fresh rubber.
- Make sure you have enough sealant in your tires before race day to fight off any minor punctures. 100-120 ml is a good volume per tire.
- On the wheel side of things, if your alloy rims have taken a few knocks, they may need to be trued straight to keep you rolling lekker! Best leave this to an experienced wheel builder.
Spares and tools
Finally in your stage race checklist is your essential spares and tools. While you’ll hopefully never need them, it isn’t worth the risk to be underprepared on this front. Ryder Innovations is a sponsor of sani2c and they have just been churning out cleverly designed tools and storage solutions at a very reasonable price point so that you need not go without any essentials on your ride! You’ll find their products at most bike shops around SA.
- A multitool in your pocket or on the bike is a must. The Groove Tool Pro now comes with a velcro mounting system that is worth checking out.
- Plugs and an applicator system that are easily accessible will help you sort out any bigger punctures problems.
- Co2 Canister and adapter to get air through the valve. You can mount one of these and a Slug Plug under your bottle cage with the Ryder Slyder!
- Pump, to top up the tire after bombing it or instead of using a bomb.
- Spare brake pads. Yes, we have heard stories of people burning through a set dropping down the Umko valley!
- Spare derailleur hanger. If your bike takes a unique design, it is best to carry a spare. You can cable tie it under your saddle for out-of-the-way storage.
- Tube. For those unfixable punctures! Easy to carry with something like the Kinect Cage.
- Quick link suitable for your chain. Make sure it is compatible with the chain on your bike!
- Chainbreaker, that you know how to use properly.
- Cable ties. Can be handy in “boer maak ’n plan” situations.
- Duct tape. Fix a shoe, etc
- Lube. Keep that chain spinning smoothly!
There is a fair bit that we touched on there but if you go over all of those points on your bike well ahead of the race and keep tabs on any issues, you’ll be well on your way to having a trouble free ride! For more info on helping you prepare for sani2c, head over here!