5 Crucial Bike Maintenance Hacks
Try these tips from pro mechanics to keep your bike in top condition. – By James Stout
If you watch enough YouTube, you can probably figure out how to fix most things on your bike. Making a bike work isn’t too difficult; but making it work perfectly (and look flawless) is what sets the best mechanics in the world apart. We asked some of our favourite pro bike whisperers to share their secrets so you can show a little bit of flair next time you’re turning the wrenches.
Casey Magner of Team Hincapie hated searching for his favourite tools when he was out of his workshop, so he made a rollable travel tool belt from waxed canvas and leather, which he calls the Quiver. “It gives me a place to stash my 3-way allen key, which never fits in a pocket” said Magner. It’s also easy to throw in a bag or suitcase, so Magner has everything he needs for a stage race, bike build or quick fix on the road. Whether you opt for a toll roll or a more standard box, every good mechanic keeps her critical tools sorted and easily accessible.
We spoke to Robin Baloochi, who heads up the team at WD40 bike and raced pro downhill. We all know WD40 can help with stuck parts (but should never be used as a chain lube), but did you know it can help you get around a muddy ‘cross or MTB race? Baloochi recommends masking off the tyres, braking surface, saddle and bars, then spraying WD40 (in the blue can, not the bike stuff) on the frame to repel dirt. “It can save you a few grams of mud weight” he says, “which makes a huge difference in a race.”
Do your cables give the front of your bike that “bed head” look? Matt Fallon of Black Mountain Bicycles in the USA has a solution, and it involves your hairdryer. Fallon uses shrink wrap and a heat gun to pull cables together. “It’s the little things that make a bike look really neat,” he says. Fallon should know about the little things, having spent years working with Mavic.
Wrap With Care
Fallon also has tips for bar tape: “You should always consider which way the rider pulls on the tape and wrap it so that they pull it tighter. Typically the rider pulls back on the tops and pushes forward on the drops.” He also says it’s important to use high-quality electrical tape for fixing the ends.
Go Green for a Better Clean
You’ll notice pro bikes are always meticulously clean. The secret? “Dawn mixed with Simple Green is the best spray cleaner, then I use isopropyl alcohol in a spray bottle for greasy stuff,” says Fallon. Others suggested using a diluted bleach mixture for white saddles and bar tape. Pledge also seems to be a favourite for giving bikes that showroom sheen.