For each of us cycling plays a different role in our lives, for some it is total immersion in cycling culture, for others it can be simply a convenient form of transport or occasional social outing. Each has a different purpose, and with it, a different set of demands on rider and equipment. Regardless of the bike, they all share one thing in common, none of them are actually designed to be ridden and stored dirty.
The mechanical nature of a bicycle is such that it needs a level of regular maintenance, removal of road or trail grime, appropriate bike degreasers, washes and lubes. Unlike most other on or off road machinery, that is designed to resist the elements over extended periods of time, the bicycle has its transmission and braking surfaces exposed. A bicycle ridden in the rain on a journey is very different to a car, both may end up in the garage at the end of the journey, but the bicycle ultimately should be at a minimum degreased, washed and re-lubed, ready for the next outing.
The modern bicycle is a mix of performance materials such as carbon, thinner steels, alloys, combined with technical advancements in precision gear changing and braking. A cog or gear on today’s bicycle is much thinner, and often of a lighter alloy, than anything found on a car or motor cycle. The bicycle braking surfaces are no longer heavy steel, but lightweight rim alloys or disc rotors. Although bikes look robust, most are in fact not designed for prolonged periods of no preventative maintenance.
To maximise performance of these parts they need to be dirt free and appropriately lubed. Particles of dirt act as a fine sandpaper, stripping the outer protective layers and eroding surfaces. Within a short space of time, a poorly maintained bike will suffer in braking and gear changing performance.
It is always interesting how we manage to get ourselves committed to things well outside of our comfort zone. Often in a moment of over exuberance or an elevated view of our current abilities, the laying down of a challenge can give a very distorted view of what we are capable of. So now to find yourself, with a cycle challenge laid down, with years away from the bike, about to embark on a bike ride further than you drive most weeks.
The great news is, half the people doing the event will have matched your blind commitment, you will not be alone, and that’s why it’s so much fun. And on the day, you will find each other on the road or trail, although you will be a little tired and sore, you will be the riders with the biggest smiles, you are achieving something, and it took the satisfaction of some hard work to get here.
Depending on the magnitude of the challenge, your current physical condition, depth of cycling experience and weeks, preferably not days, until the big event, what are the basics you can do to have the best possible experience?
The first thing to look at is the event itself. To take an event such as a Gran Fondo, what is the distance? If you had to set a realistic time for the event, knowing that on the day you will probably be riding in bigger groups, and hopefully somewhat fitter, what would it be? So if the event is 120km, you may pick a bunch average of 30kph, which would give you a time of 4 hours. Now we have a training benchmark to build to.
I have never been a believer that you need to be able to ride the actual distance before a big event, you simply need to be able to ride the time the distance will take you on the day Then combining the element of a bigger group to shelter you, eagerness and new found fitness, before the actual day you need to be able to ride 75% of the estimated time. In this case 3 hours.
So with a new found training goal of achieving a 3 hour ride, you can start to layout a basic training program. If you had 6 weeks until the event, work on achieving 33% of the target training time by the end of the first week, which would be a ride of 1 hour. Don’t worry about terrain or speed, just focus on managing to ride 1 hour with pain or discomfort. If you had 4 days available to ride, you may aim for 2 x 45 minute rides through the week building to two 1 hour rides in the weekend.
Then aim to lift each week’s workload by 30 minutes, until one week out from the event you can achieve you training goal of a 3 hour ride on week out. The week leading into the event go back to week one distances to ensure you have recovered from your five weeks of training and fresh for the big day. The amount of time until the event will determine the build-up, the more the better, but short lead ups just need to adjust expectations, which ultimately equals speed.
In the last week use the extra time to prepare your bike for the big day. Treat it to a clean using bike degreaser and bike wash as well as some basic maintenance. One the day of the big event ensure you have a good breakfast, take ample food and drink, and focus on enjoying the ride. Before you know it the extra company, hard work in training and excitement of the day will have you achieving something special. Enjoy your ride.
New to cycling and about to head out on your first group ride? Here are a few simple tips on what you should do for some basic preparation to make the ride go smoothly.
Depending on the group you are riding with, often groups take it on themselves to ensure that everyone who leaves from the meeting place, makes it back. These are sometimes known as “no drop” rides and are a great way to get an opportunity to experience bunch riding for the first time in a friendly and encouraging environment. On the basis of everyone on the day looking out for you, what are some simple things you can do before the ride to ensure you don’t let people down, that with better planning, is potentially avoidable?
The first and most obvious is fitness level. You should have a reasonable idea of distances you can manage and average speeds you are capable of maintaining. Entry level starts at low 20kph, and moves steadily up. Each bunch ride generally has a formula of speed and distance so make contact to ensure you meet their expectations.
With a sense of duty to ensure you make it back safely, you owe it to the group to ensure your bike is well prepared for the ride. It’s not about having the most expensive bike, but it is about having a clean and maintained bike. There is nothing worse than letting down the group with a bike that fails through poor maintenance, or getting help with fixing a flat tyre, to see the unfortunate good Samaritan covered in dirt and grime from a filthy bike. Their obligation to get you home means they feel compelled to not leave you on the side of the road, so do all you can before to limit the chances of this happening.
A few days before the ride, wash and check your bike. Use a specialist bike degreaser to ensure your chain, crankset and cogs are clean, then follow up with an overall bike wash to clean wheels, components and frame. Whilst you washing your bike check there is no glass or foreign objects stuck in your tyres, these could be a flat tyre waiting to happen, and that gears are not in need of adjustment. Many a ride has been spoiled by gears in spokes, so if you not sure, it may be worth booking it in for a service pre ride. Lastly re-lube your chain and ensure tyres are pumped up.
Come ride day you will need to have adequate spare tubes, two if you can, tyre levers and a pump, and potentially a small ride tool set. It’s ok if you don’t know how to fix everything, but at least having everything shows the group you are willing to learn. There will often be enough hands to make light work of most road side hiccups.
When it comes to what to wear, make sure you dressed for the distance and conditions. Any sign of rain, it pays to take a shower jacket along for the ride in your pocket. Being too hot or too cold can make riding tough so in winter good gloves, socks and head gear under the helmet can make the ride more enjoyable. If you on a longer ride, layers such as arm and leg warmers that can be removed are great if the day starts cool and warms up. Often a sheet of newspaper under the jersey can keep the chest warm and save a layer that needs to be removed later in the ride.
Now think about what you need to keep you going out on the road. As a rule, always take more food and drink than you need, as on the chance you start to struggle, the energy will come in handy. And if by rare occurrence it is still not enough, don’t be afraid to let other riders know you are in need of something, as they would much rather hand you a gel, than push you home with hunger fade. In most cases rides will have some social stop along the route, so a few dollars for the café is a must to quickly become part of the social banter.
Now you ready to go. Get there early and introduce yourself, let them know you are new and keen to ride with the group. Generally, someone will keep an eye out for you from the start and you will soon pick up the rules of the group. Be confident enough once you understand how the group operates to get involved in calling out the signals for traffic and road obstacles. Group riding is social, so don’t be the strong silent type, enjoy being active socially. If by chance you find yourself in a group slower than what you were expecting, the etiquette is to always ride at their pace, not to show them how much better you are!
But most of all enjoy your ride, we all started once, and all of us enjoy seeing new faces on the rides. And if something goes wrong on the day, relax, you did everything you could as a learner to make sure it didn’t, so it’s simply out of your control, and the group will know that. I hope you have a great ride.
Cyclists love a challenge. Tough terrain, wind, rain, heat, and bone chilling cold all play their part in the make up of a great ride. Unfortunately what makes a ride great can also put us at risk at of chafing and saddle sores, which can be the making of one of your least enjoyable rides.
Does everyone use Chamois Cream?
Chamois Cream use varies from rider to rider. Some use all the time, some use on days that they are riding further, or in poor weather, or if they are going to sweat more than usual. Our advice is to use it before you need it, especially if you are new to the sport. Saddle sores / boils and chafing take the fun out of riding so don’t let them.
How do you use Chamois Cream?
Turn your shorts inside out, and on the pad insert of your shorts where you sit, apply chamois cream to any stitching or areas of the pad that have given you discomfort. Apply more liberally where required, or if heading out in the rain. Then apply direct to you skin in key contact locations.
What precautions do I take after the ride?
Change out of your shorts as soon as possible after the ride to reduce your exposure to lingering bacteria. If showers not readily available use PEDALIT Dry Wash with it's Tea Tree and Eucalyptus ingredients, known for their antiseptic properties, to remove Chamois Cream from skin, clean and protect from bacteria.
Always wash your shorts after every ride. We recommend hand washing you shorts with PEDALIT REVIVAL Clothing Wash to ensure you remove all the Chamois Cream, and leave the shorts bacteria free for the next ride.
In cycling terms, talking lubes with bike riders is like discussing religion and politics at a dinner party or family gathering, we can be set in our ways! So, to get it out there, we love wet lubes. Why? It goes back to what FKB stands for, Father Knows Best. Our fathers, being mechanical people, always had us lubing and greasing everything that tightened or moved. For us lube has only one job, and that is to lube. Products that claim to reflect or not attract dirt, dry and create wax like lubricant to us are a distraction. We want our lubes to one thing exceptionally well, lube.
All wet lubes will attract some level of trail or road filth, higher quality synthetic lubes will run clean, and due to their formulation, clean out the dirt from the links and cogs. By applying the correct amount of lube, you can have a clean, fast, smooth and silent drive chain for miles of enjoyable riding.
The PEDALIT FKB range has two types of lubes, the Race Lube being a lighter dry weather race day lube, but also a fantastic general lube due to the penetration capabilities. Then our favourite ride lube, the Legend. FKB legend is a premium synthetic lube designed for the smoothest of riding in the toughest of conditions.
How to Lube with FBK Race
- Degrease chain thoroughly with RESURRECTION Degreaser.
- With the chain on the large chain ring and a middle sprocket at the rear, apply approximately 1.25 ml of FKB Race Lube using syringe applicator to each roller while gently hand pedalling backwards. Do not change gears.
- Preferably allow chain to dry for 12 hours as solvent will evaporate.
- Using rag, wipe chain excess aggressively, including chain ring and cog teeth.
- FKB Race Lube will push sludge and dirt out of the drive chain, so after each ride, run the chain and cogs lightly through a rag.
How to Lube with FKB Legend
FKB Legend Lube is a high performance synthetic lube, that will give best results when simple steps are taken to apply.
- Degrease chain thoroughly with RESURRECTION Degreaser.
- With the chain on the large chain ring and a middle sprocket at the rear, apply approximately 1.25 ml of FKB Legend Lube using syringe applicator to each roller while gently hand pedalling backwards. Do not change gears.
- Work in lube by hand pedaling chain backwards for two minutes.
- Using rag, wipe chain excess aggressively, including chain ring and cog teeth.
- FKB Legend Lube will push sludge and dirt out of the drive chain, so after each ride, run the chain and cogs lightly through a rag.
General Tips for All Lubes
- High quality lubes shouldn’t require excessive application. This makes us question the actual oil mix, with it likely having a higher petroleum / solvent base that will dissolve. Always remove excess oil before riding. If possible measure. All FBK lubes come with syringe applicator.
- Wipe down drive chain after every ride. Not a full on clean, but a 10 second wipe of chain, cogs and cranks.
- Apply extra lube for nasty conditions. If the weather is that bad, then you will be degreasing and washing after the ride regardless, so ensure you have enough lube for the ride to keep everything moving freely. FBK Legend is a fantastic lube for the toughest of rides.
- There are no shortcuts to effective lubing of chains. Start with a properly degreased chain (see How to Degrease a Bike). Take the time to apply the right amount, work it in, remove excess. Then after each ride a gentle wipe down to remove any build up.
Where else should you lube?
Same rules apply, with quality lube a little goes a long way. Apply and wipe of excess.
- Gear pulleys
- Front and rear gear pivots
- Brake and gear lever mechanisms (We recommend FBK Race for this task)
- Brake pivots
Basically, if it moves, other than braking surfaces, then lube to protect, enhance performance and longevity.
Enjoy you riding.
Although cycling is an athletic sport, it is also very much an equipment based sport too, and basic habits in bike care and maintenance are just as much a part of the ride as sweating up a climb. The rule is simple, NEVER ride a dirty bike.
A dirty bike has a higher maintenance cost than a clean one and a poorly maintained bike is more likely to leave you sitting road side waiting for a lift home.
So here are the PEDALIT wash tips:
RESURRECTION & SPLENDOR are formulated to be safe on all surfaces, ensuring your equipment is protected at all times. We recommend cleaning mountain bikes after every ride and road bikes as required or when exposed to rain and mud.
Rinse – Hose down the bike to remove all excess grit and dirt. It also pays to give all your brushes and sponges a rinse too. This ensures no left over grit from the last wash that may scratch your bike.
RESURRECTION | Bike Degreaser – Spray on RESURRECTION to all areas covered in oil, grime and tough dirt. Leave to penetrate for a few minutes, then use a firm bristled brush to remove stubborn grime. For chains that need more attention use a chain cleaning tool with a small amount of RESURRECTION inside. Hose off. As a water based degreaser, RESURRECTION is totally safe on all surfaces, so use all over the bike if required.
SPLENDOR | Bike Wash – Now that all obvious oil and grime has been removed, give the whole bike the wash treatment with a frame brush or sponge. Make sure you clean the braking surfaces of the wheels and the brake pads. Hose off and dry all over with soft cloth.
GLORY | Shine & Protect – Once your bike is completely dry, add a small amount of GLORY to a clean cloth. Spot shine your frame and components for added protection and gloss shine.
Re-lube - It is key to not over lube, so follow the instructions of your chosen PEDALIT lube.
There are things us cyclists can't stop talking about, our bikes, our rides, our newest purchase, our latest diet and a world beating training program. We try not to make friends on airplanes, but the moment we ride next to a stranger in lycra, we are sharing life stories. There appears to be nothing sacred, but there is, chaffing and saddle sores. The silent suffering.
A sore backside is all part of the challenge that is cycling, but chaffing and saddle soreness is more than that and certainly not a friend of the cyclist. The good news, if there is any, is that you are certainly not alone, and with care and prevention, it can be managed. Virtually all cyclists experience saddle soreness at some stage, then out of necessity adjust and take precautions that control or eliminate it from their riding. Staying healthy and injury free is critical in any sport or physical activity. Make no mistake, saddle soreness is an injury. Taking care of the tender regions is as important as any of the number of things you do to care for your health and wellbeing.
So, what types of chaffing and discomfort are there and what causes them? And what can you do about it?
The two most common types of down under discomfort are traditional chaffing of the skin, until the skin is irritated or broken, and the infamous saddle sore. Chaffing is most common and a sign of problems ahead as you increase your mileage, good practices now will save you from many hours of discomfort. A saddle sore is a bacteria filled pore, that rises up in the most inconvenient of places, and can feel like sitting on a red hot spike. Neither chaffing or saddle sores are pleasant, and both end rides early and cancel tomorrows.
You will be surprised how many small contributors can combine to give you one big problem. Road surface, bike type, short and pad insert quality, saddle height, hot days, cold and wet days, ride type and duration, saddle selection and riding style. By taking a few simple precautions, that in many cases are part of your overall cycling journey, will enable you to enjoy your cycling without compromise.
Many factors can lead to increased vibration, frame material, design and stiffness, road or trail surface. Aluminium has a reputation for a harsher ride over carbon, and a racing designed frame will be more upright in seat and head tube angles, attracting more vibration. Speed and performance always comes at the price of comfort, so when selecting your bike be sure to let the local bike shop advise you on what’s best for your riding. Hands and back sides take the brunt of vibration, and combined with other contributors, can expose the rider to soreness and injury.
How you sit on your bike can also determine your level of comfort over longer periods. Sitting too high can result in unnecessary hip movement and pressure points in the saddle area. The distance between your saddle and bars is key too, an extended or low reach can result in you moving forward on your saddle where it is not designed for extended periods of riding. Tri athletes have the challenge of riding extended periods in a aero dynamic position, good bike position is key for comfort and speed. If unsure consider a professional bike fit or talk to an experienced rider on your group.
There are two types of cyclists and a thousand types of saddles. The first gets on a saddle and just makes it happen, the second will change their saddle a hundred times to find the one perfect for them, and still not be happy! It is easier and cheaper to be the first, so buy a saddle that you have been measured for at the local bike shop, because they can get you close enough to perfect, and just get on with it. If you want the ultimate comfort stay on the couch, all bike seats have their “moments”. Note, quality seats are not unisex.
Money saved on bike shorts is paid for elsewhere, it’s up to you where you chose to spend it. An investment in quality shorts will be long forgotten three hours from home on a hot, sweaty day. Firstly, shorts are not unisex, avoid brands that tell you so. Pick a chamois pad that suits your riding, thicker for endurance and training, thinner and lighter for racing, extra padding towards the front for triathlon / time trialling. A quality pad will be gentle directly against your skin (yes that’s a big no to wearing underwear riding), and absorbent of moisture. The stitching will be high quality and not be raised leaving you susceptible to abrasion. The shape will be anatomic, in that they are designed for the riding position, not for looking good standing up.
Once you have dealt as best as you can with the contributors then prevention is the next strategy. Nothing beats chamois cream to provide a buffer and lubricant for down below. As a rule, if in doubt, then put some on, and for hot, wet or longer days in the saddle it is a must. There are two types of chamois cream, a lighter based cream, great for lubricating pads and stitching of shorts, and petroleum based, for long rides or ultimate protection. In many cases, it comes down to rider preference. Choose chamois creams with quality ingredients that promote skin health and fight against infection and bacteria.
Being slightly old school, I shake my head at the number of people walking around in cycling shorts hours after an event. Once the ride is over then get the chamois away from the skin, and keep the area clean. For events and times, you cannot access cleaning facilities, use a dry wash with quality ingredients that again promote skin health and antiseptic benefits.
So, with some common sense, care, and appropriate investment, you can get out and enjoy the days in the saddle. Enjoy your riding.
How often should I clean my bike?
Rather than take an approach based on time, it simply is when your bike needs it, and when does your bike need it? Usually when you have ridden in the wet, any time you ride trails, when dust and road grime have built up, or when your chain has accumulated grit and grime. The cleaner you keep the moving parts of your drive chain, the easier the bike is to ride and the less long term maintenance you will be required to do. And of course, riding a clean bike feels faster.
If I wash my bike often is using water OK?
Cleaning your bike on a regular basis using water is no problem, as long as you keep the water pressure down. The excitement of high pressure hosing will soon make way for maintenance headaches, as the high water pressure forces its way into bearings and seals. Bikes are designed to get wet, but not to be blasted, so as long as you keep the pressure down on the hose. Let the PEDALIT cleaning products do their work, and use a watering can or low pressure hose to wash off.
Why use specialist bike cleaning products?
Specialist bike products are formulated to be tough on dirt and grime, but careful on all your various high performance materials and surfaces. What you are more than likely to grab from the garage or kitchen is either too aggressive, such as caustic or petroleum based or home grade cleaners that simply won’t remove what you require. Aggressive cleaners attack surfaces, which immediately after cleaned, can make them look shinny and clear of dirt, but soon tarnish and are a sign of future issues.
Why use specialist brushes?
PEDALIT bike brushes come in 3 sizes, each designed for a specific purpose, with a bristle hardness to match. They do the job they are meant to, and are part of your cleaning kit that doesn’t disappear off to do other jobs and never there when you need them!
How long should a bike take to clean?
Check out our guide, but if you stay on top of the dirt and grime, 10 minutes.
What are the basics I need to wash a bike?
Access to water, RESURRECTION Bike Degreaser and SPLENDOR Bike Wash, bucket, brush, cloths and sponge. For those looking for extra shine and protection, GLORY Bike Shine will delight.
How do I clean handle bar tape and brake hoods?
RESURRECTION is the perfect product for handle bar tape and hoods. As a safe biodegradable degreaser spray on, gently scrub with a clean brush, and rinse. Trust where you put your hands to RESURRECTION.
So you have invested in a new bike and are enjoying riding the trails or roads. Although bikes today are highly strung pieces of equipment, made lighter and faster with highly advanced materials, they are surprisingly robust. By following some simple care guidelines, you can be enjoying many drama free hours of cycling. And the modern day wheel is no better example of how far todays bicycles have come. Once the dark arts of the bicycle, the wheel, todays machine built wheel not only has less spokes, a lighter weight, and less rolling resistance, but are also more robust to the challenges of cycling.
Damage to a wheel while out cycling is likely to result in a car ride home. Broken spokes quickly send the wheel out of true, and if it is rubbing on your frame and brakes, then that’s the end of your day out on the bike. Continuing to ride will be risking damage to your bike and wheel. A broken spoke doesn’t signal the end for a wheel, but riding prolonged distances with a broken spoke certainly puts stress on the remaining spokes. Thankfully with today’s wheels this happens less and less, and the majority will give you years of incident free riding. So what are the little things you can do to prolong the lifespan of your wheels?
Firstly, never adjust spoke tension. Wheel building is an art, and this is definitely one place where a little knowledge is dangerous. Leave spoke tension and wheel truing to the professionals, not You Tube. Spokes do loosen over time on every wheel, especially when new, so it is advisable to book new wheels into the shop after 500k to get them tensioned. After every few rides spin the wheels and ensure the run true sideways as well as up and down. At the first sign of deviation off true, get the wheels to the shop. Running wheels out of true for periods of time will only apply stress in directions and to parts of the wheel not designed to withstand it.
Also make sure your wheels and brake pads are clean, especially road wheels where the braking surface is on the rim. Use RESURRECTION Bike Degreaser to remove the dirt and grime that accumulates. Then follow up with a bike wash free of silicone, as silicone can impact your stopping power, and dry down. By not keeping your wheels clean, you are creating a sand paper like effect on the braking surfaces, dramatically reducing the lifespan of your wheels.
And lastly, wheels today are exceptional for their designed purpose, mountain bike wheels stay true over the toughest of terrain, and road bike wheels ride fast. Stay within their intended purpose and you should enjoy years of trouble free cycling.
Basic checks after every wash:
If you are not confident with any of these adjustments, make sure you get to the local bike shop before your next ride and have them take a look!
As you re-lube your drive chain, run through the gears to ensure they don’t need adjustment. Make sure your highest and lowest gears are free of spokes and the bike frame. Also ensure they are sitting quietly on each sprocket and not trying to change up or down sprockets. Make the small adjustments. If there is a lag or stiff shifters when you change gears up or down, there may be cable tension issues.
Have a quick look at your brake pads and ensure they are free of grit and road debris. Also ensure your brake levers are smooth and spring back freely. If your cable ends are frayed or the outer housings are cracked, consider replacement. Potential cable issues are best sorted out in the workshop, not on the road.
Have a close look at your tyres. Spin each wheel, the tyre should maintain its shape as it spins without bumps or bulges. If not, then they need to be changed as they are no longer capable of consistently holding high pressure and will fail in the next couple of rides. If this happens on the road or trail, a tube won’t get you home. Also check for any obvious cuts or foreign objects in the tyres, if so tweezers are handy to remove. Make sure you are happy with the amount of tread and ensure the casing is not showing through at all. If so, it's time to change those tyres.
Lift the bike and gently drop from a couple of centimetres above the ground, any rattles? Maybe a loose bottle cage or loose bolt? Make sure all are tight before you hit the road. Be aware of the tension required as over tightening can result in equipment failure.
If you keep your bike clean and maintained this whole process should take no more than 10 minutes.
But there are many added bonuses of riding a clean and well maintained bike! It just feels great when your bike looks awesome and runs like a dream. We, like most people, have to find time to get out on the road or trail, and with our bikes in the office, there is nothing like a shining bike to get you motivated to sneak in that time and enjoy the ride.