Five bike checks before RideLondon

Taking part in the RideLondon sportive on Sunday? Here's some advice to help make sure your bike is in tip top condition...

RideLondon promises to offer a stunning ride for thousands of cyclists this weekend – taking a 30,000 strong peloton away from the centre of London and into the Surrey hills.

Regardless if you’re taking on the 100 mile or 46 mile loop, the ride will no doubt be more fun if your bike is working with you – and not against you.

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A little time and attention spent on your two wheeled friend before the event could make all the difference. Here are a few things you should check before you set off…

Are your tyres up to it?

Make sure your tyres are up to the RideLondon challenge

Make sure your tyres are up to the RideLondon challenge

Tyres which are heavily worn, have bald patches where the tread is showing, or which have perished due to age are much more likely to puncture or even split on the ride.

>>> Buyer’s guide to road bike tyres

Make sure your tyres are up to spec and replace them if they look dodgy. It’s much easier to change them before the ride than try to patch things up when you’re riding the event.

Even if you’ve got the best tyres in the world, they won’t perform well if you’ve got your tyre pressure all wrong. Too low and you leave yourself at risk of punctures, too high and your grip on the road will be reduced thanks to a lower surface area – and you’ll feel every bump in the road.

Even if you do everything right, punctures will always be a risk – so make sure you carry a spare inner tube, tyre levers and a pump or Co2 with you so you can fix it by the roadside. You can keep these items in a saddlebag if your pockets are loaded.

Do your brakes work?

Make sure your brakes work before reaching this point

Make sure your brakes work before reaching this point

You can expect to spend a fair amount of time climbing in the Surrey Hills – but the good news is that there’s lots of downhill on the other side. Those descents will be a lot more fun if you know your bikes are in good condition.

>>> How to use your brakes properly

Make sure that your brakes are working well and there’s still some depth left on your brake pads before your brake shoes hit the rim.

Do your wheels rub against the brakes?

Well set up brakes will make your ride more enjoyable

Well set up brakes will make your ride more enjoyable

It’s not just irritating if your brakes make a rubbing sound every time your wheel goes round: you are also wasting energy.

>>> Bike wheels demystified

Make sure your wheels run smoothly and without rubbing when you spin them and you will have a much more enjoyable ride. If they don’t, first check that the brakes are set up correctly. If the brakes are working, and the problem is that the wheels aren’t entirely as round as they used to be, head down to your local bike shop and ask them to true them up for you.

Do your gears work?

Modern bikes have lots of gears - make sure they all work

Modern bikes have lots of gears – make sure they all work

You’ll need them on Leith Hill and Box Hill so make sure that you can get all your gear ratios and that your cables are in good repair. Above all make sure that your top and bottom ratios engage properly and that you don’t lose your chain off the top and bottom of your cassette, as a chain falling off either end can be dangerous.

>>> How to use your gears efficiently

You can adjust your bike’s gears using the small screws on the derailleur – or visit a bike shop if you are unsure they’re working properly.

Is your chain well lubed?

A dodgy chain - best get it changed

A dodgy chain – best get it changed

Squeaky chains are another irritant, and trying to push a dirty or rusty chain round and round in circles hundreds of times wastes energy, too .

Give your bike a good clean before the event, and then apply a thin layer of lube – wet lube if there’s rain on the cards, and dry if conditions are good.

Make sure that your chain runs smoothly, and apply a squirt of good quality bike chain lubricant to each link if it is dry or rusty. If it’s in really bad shape, consider getting it replaced.

Final checks…

Finally, before you set off, make sure your quick release skewers, or thru axles, are sitting square in the frame and that they’re properly tightened – it’s easy to forget, especially if you’ve taken the wheel off to put  the bike in the car.

Check your tyre pressure before you leave in the morning, give your pocket a pat to make sure it contains an inner tube, tyre levers and pump or co2 – and away you go…