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Nothing strikes fear into a triathlete’s heart more than the thought of your sleek, sexy tri bike lying disassembled in your hotel room as the deadline for bike drop-off ticks closer and closer. Avoid this stressful scenario by visiting your bike shop for a pre-race tune-up, and when you pick it up, ask the mechanic to show you the simple and effective steps for disassembling and reassembling the bike when using a travel case. Pro tip: Show up with a bag full of freshly baked cookies or a six-pack of good beer, and most shop techs will gladly spend the extra time with you.
Check these five key components to ensure your ride is fully race ready:
Tires: Look for clear signs of wear, like visible threads showing through, and replace them immediately. Consider changing out your tires every 500–700 miles, regardless of wear, as it is definitely an area where it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Bolts: Test and tighten bolts that tend to loosen with road vibration, such as bottle cages and bar- and saddle-mounted accessories. Then ask your shop for some guidance with the more delicate parts such as your stem, handlebars, seat post or anything carbon. Consider carryng an inexpensive tool, such as the Ritchey 5Nm torque wrench ($23, Ritcheylogic.com), to help save several hundred dollars in potential damage due to over-tightening.
Brake pads: Check for signs of wear or ask your shop to check them for you, and replace before you really need to. Be sure to switch out your standard pads, which are likely designed for metal braking surfaces only, whenever using carbon race wheels.
Shifting: Watch an instructional video at Triathlete.com/rearderailleur to see how to adjust your rear derailleur. Most larger races will have a shop tent at both the expo and race venue, and they are usually happy to help dial in a poorly shifting bike due to travel.
Wheels: Nothing will slow you down or annoy you more during the bike leg than a wheel that is out of true. Pick up an $8 Park Tool spoke wrench (Parktool.com), and ask your shop for some basic instructions on how to use it for minor adjustments.