Whether you have a crummy old mountain bike you dusted off from the back of your shed, or you ride a sleek carbon steed with an aero seatpost and electronic shifters, show your bike some love this season. Here is a list of things you can do to keep your bike happy:
Always pump up your tires to the recommended pressure for your bike, your tires, your weight and your comfort. This will vary from rider to rider and bike to bike. But triathlon training is not like riding to the park with your kids. You don't inflate your tires in April and leave them alone until September. Skinny tires lose a high percentage of their pressure quickly, even overnight. So make a habit of inflating your tires fully before each ride.Fully inflated tires will help you go faster with less effort, and will prevent "pinch flats" where your underinflated tube becomes folded or pinched in the rim and results in a tear to the tube.Also, before you head out, lift up the bike and give each tire a quick spin to make sure the tires spin freely and aren't rubbing. This is especially important if you've removed either wheel for storage or transport. Even if you haven't, it's easy for a wheel or brake caliper to get bumped or jostled and not be seated correctly. Better to spend five seconds checking than to ride for 20 miles unaware that your tire is rubbing.
Give the tires a quick spin and run your hands over them while they are still spinning to check for debris.Wipe off any sports drink or energy gel (or anything else gross!) that may have spilled onto the frame. It's much easier to clean it off while it's fresh than to try to scrub it off after it's been baked on for several days or weeks.
Re-lube your chain with a good chain lubricant recommended by your bike shop. This will prevent wear and tear on your chain, which should last for several years before needing to be replaced.
Clean and lube your chain. (See video here.)Clean your derailleurs and brakes. Oil the moving parts. (Advice here.)Clean your spokes and grease the spoke nipples. This can be done quickly and will prevent rust forming where the spokes connect to the rim. This is important because if your wheel goes "out of true" (becomes warped) a bike mechanic can only adjust it if your spoke nipples are not frozen in place from rust.Clean your frame, especially the part near the back wheel where all the road grime collects.
Consider a tune up at the bike shop, unless you know how to do it yourself. Having someone else give your bike a thorough tune up once a year can help catch problems, tighten loose bolts before they are in danger of falling off, and keep your brakes and derailleurs adjusted so that stopping and shifting is smooth and hassle free.