If you’ve ever entered a multi-day stage race, you would have seen a service package can be purchased to make your event less stressful and run smoother. Pro bike mechanic Paul Gibbings sheds more light. IMAGES: OAKPICS & CRAIG KOLESKY
The trick to stage racing is to get to the event prepared and with a bike that’s been serviced recently, but also ridden! Remember that bike services at events may be slightly more expensive so don’t expect normal pricing, but don’t accept ludicrous! Service providers have costs to cover being at events and it’s not easy doing their job in the sticks! When making your decision, ask your mechanic of choice what you’ll be getting in your service package so you know what to expect and aren’t disappointed. Ask if they won’t mind accessing your bike before you jump into things! This will help unveil hidden problems and provide you with the best service package for your bike. and it’s not easy doing their job in the sticks! When making your decision, ask your mechanic of choice what you’ll be getting in your service package so you know what to expect and aren’t disappointed. Ask if they won’t mind accessing your bike before you jump into things! This will help unveil hidden problems and provide you with the best service package for your bike.
→ Provide valuable feedback to your mechanic after each day’s racing. It is important to explain what you are experiencing on your bike in order for your mechanic to help you.
→ Wash and lube provided as part of the event package is normally chain lube only. Remember water runs into every little gap, whether under low or high pressure wash, so in an ideal world I like to give bearings some attention after most washes. If you’re like me then it may be in your best interest to go for a service package which should include wash and lube of bearing too.
→ Don’t lube your chain too much. Use something you trust and wipe off excess lube after application.
→ Opt for a service that covers your running or working parts. By that, I mean headset bearings, bottom brackets, hubs/free hubs, drive trains and gear cable and housing. Good bearings will last longer, but will also require some love! Bearings can either be replaced if worn/ seized or cleaned and re-greased to keep them running smooth.
→ If you are having cables replaced ask to have both the inner gear cable and housing replaced together … this is the only way!
→ Chains, cassettes and chainrings should be in good condition going into a race. Keep an eye on your chain and rather replace it frequently than suffer the cost of a new cassette and chainring alongside it.
→ Brakes and suspension are more important to have checked before an event than during. If your hydraulic stoppers are working fine and you have them bled frequently, then leave them unless it’s something serious. Remember to have brake pads checked after wet and muddy conditions and on dry dusty days it helps to have your pistons oiled! Our African dust gets in everywhere and is often the culprit to the squeaks and creaks you hear coming from your bike.
→ Suspension has specific services intervals which shouldn’t be ignored. Stick to these and you should be good going into an event! With this said you can make sure the wiper seals and stanchions are clean and lubed using suspension specific oils only. If you are riding an event longer than three days, a fork lower or shock airsleeve service isn’t a bad idea. Pivot services can be a pain, so make sure you have these seen too before race day.
→ Check the sealant in your tyres and keep this topped up in thorny areas and hot conditions. Ask if it’s a specific brand you prefer using! There’s some nasty stuff out there!
→ Wheels and spokes can take a beating, so have these tensioned and aligned if necessary. Also make sure your valve cores aren’t blocked. A small thing like this could be a headache out on the trail. Have them cleaned or replaced if you aren’t getting sufficient air flow.
→ Make sure you test ride your bike. → Remember that anything can go wrong, so tuck away some spare cash just in case!