Maintenance

By Ashwath Rasquinha

Tyre Size

For road bikes, a tyre size of 25 is fast, light and works well, provided the road conditions are excellent.

32 is an all round tyre. Will work well on most road conditions, especially if you're touring.

28 can feel quick as well, and is ideal for our roads. It is a good balance between comfort and speed.

Remember, the fatter the tyre more the friction and weight penalty.

Hybrids can feel nimble and fast with a 32. Tyre width of more than 32 is not necessary for most cyclists, as the primary riding surface is tar.

 

Tyre Pressure

There's always a minimum and maximum tyre pressure recommendation embossed on your tyre sidewalls. For example, if the maximum tyre pressure reading on your tyre is 100 psi it does not mean you pump your tyre up to that pressure, it just means that the tyre can safely take in that much pressure without blowing out.

I have noticed that most riders pump their tyres to the max, and it serves no beneficial purpose other than making your ride hard and bouncy. It even fatigues you quickly from the road vibration streaming directly to your palms and arms.

 

The correct rear tyre pressure for you is when there's a slight bulge in the tyre sidewalls when you fully sit on your bike.

For the front tyre, just reduce the tyre pressure by 5 psi, when compared with the rear tyre pressure. For example, if the rear tyre pressure is 100 psi, keep the front tyres at 95 psi, this ensures your ride feeling softer, providing better grip and handling, it also saves your hands, arms and shoulders from aches from all the road vibration!

 

This is purely my opinion from my experience, and one that has served me well. You'll hear about fully pumped up tyres rolling better, well, at the most you're going to save 10 seconds from your ride, in simpler terms, it's not worth it. These numbers matter only when you're racing, and racing we are not! At least not with our paunches!

 

Tyre Compound

Endurance/Durable tyres are hard compound rubbers, and will last you a long time. The downside being, they are not as grippy and compliant (shock absorption).

If safety is your concern, go for softer compound tyres, they'll serve you well with their road-gripping attributes, especially in wet weather conditions, they stick to the road and provide you with a sense of security. The softer compound is also forgiving to rough roads and will save your palms and arms from road buzz.

Good quality tyres make a huge difference, and it's money worth spent, do your research well. There's a reason cheaper tyres are cheap, they feel lifeless! Always choose safety and comfort over longevity.

 

Chain Lube

A mistake I frequently notice is over lubing of the chain, you're just killing your drivetrain (chain ring, cassette, chain, derailleur). When there's too much lube on the chain it attracts sand, mud, and dust, which sticks to the lube and will turn it into sludge. The sand will then proceed to grind your chain, cassette and chain rings. Cleaning this crap will also be a challenge! Over-lubing will also cause your chain to slip, and this could be dangerous.

The correct amount of lubing is when you touch the chain there should be just a faint amount of lube on your fingers.

 

I recommend using the Squirt lube, which is wax-based. This lube lasts for only about 200 km before re-lubing is required, but keeps your drivetrain clean and free of grime at all times. Wax-based lubes are not sticky, and hence keeps sand away.

Spending on wax-based lubes will be cheaper than replacing drivetrain components,  make a wise choice.

Brake Pads

For the ones riding the V-brakes (rim brakes), check your pads regularly, especially in the monsoons, you'll be surprised to find all the grains of sand and fine particles nicely embedded in it. Clean it, remove the particles, and keep your brakes always at the optimum.

 

Keep your bike looking clean at all times, a clean bike is a happy bike. Let's admit it, it's always nice to ride a clean bike.

 

Saddle Tip

In a never ending quest to find that one piece of seat that fits you perfectly!

Most assume that buying something with good padding will alleviate their 'butt hurting' problem, in fact, the more the cushioning the more your problem is exasperated.

 

This is also a 'New /occasional cyclists' problem. Their glutes are in the process of getting used to the new use of the muscle, and it hurts! I call this the 'Hurt Phase'.

Over time, your glutes become firm and the problem disappears, although not fully.

 

Don't buy a saddle with too much cushioning, padding. Because the padding constantly pushes your glutes (a large muscle of the buttocks), and never allows it to firmly rest, this is what causes the painful ache most time.

Buy a firm saddle, with absolute minimum padding. This will not only make your glutes firm but will also relieve the aching problem, over time. In fact, firm, bare minimum saddles are recommended for long distance cycling.

 

Don't spend too much on a saddle thinking it'll help your problem, most time it won't.

The only thing to worry about while buying one is the shape and the size, That's it, the bloody SHAPE & SIZE!

Saddles with suspension and shock absorption will make you bounce around and not let you have complete control of the bike. Avoid these.

 

Research on what shape and size of saddle to buy depending on your riding style, again, remember, don't spend too much on this!

Pressure Points when Riding

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