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February: Love Your Bike + Prep For Great Rides

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February: Love Your Bike + Prep For Great Rides

Q: What is the key to a long string of great, trouble free rides? 

A: The key is a bike that runs well, and one that you feel connected to, like you're one and the same.

How do we do this? It takes a little thought and planning, and Sunshine is here with some ideas.

Minimizing mechanicals, and being on top of ergonomic or other preparedness requires occasional advance focus. During the ride year, we sometimes lose track of how many miles we're putting on invisible parts, or ones that wear unnoticeably. Also, we're subject to adapting to less than optimal fit or ergonomics to the point sometimes causing problems.

So let's suggest calendarizing the time once a year -- say in February -- to observe, reset and refresh your bike and your riding self, and give yourself a fresh start for the upcoming spring and summer riding seasons and beyond.

It also gives you a chance to look at options for possible ways to go with dialing in or upgrading components, or adding accessories, and gives time to order items and/or try items or new ergonomics out well before hitting your ride calendar harder as weather gets nicer.

First, assess your existing bike and decide if it's the right bike to go forward with. If it's a good platform for you, then we suggest it's helpful to break things down and think about each of these areas separately:

  • Tune-Up & Maintenance: what consumables might be ready for replacement such as pads, discs, tires, drivetrain, saddle or pedals? If you don't know, let us help you assess. What deeper components might be ready for a refresh, such as pivots, shocks, cables, dropper posts, hubs, headsets? Loose spokes, wheels out of round, or dry tubeless sealant (a real sneaky one!). Again, we can help explain and identify these areas.
  • Upgrades, swaps, or additional equipment: Trying different components, or simply switching from what you're used to, can be a revelation. Adding functional features like a dropper to your bike or just trying the latest hot tire can breathe new life into your bike and your ride. Changing from clipless to flats, or vice versa, can transform your entire ride feel. Sometimes even small items can add to the experience, whether a light, a bell or switching from one brand or spec to another on a component.
  • Fit and ergonomics: Fit and ergonomics are actually different. Fit is the overall geometry between you and your bike. Ergonomics are the micro-angles and motion of the interaction at your touchpoints as well as with the overall bike. Take the time to have a look at everything from placement and rotation of your levers (am I having to release too many fingers or rotate my whole hand just to shift?) and the contact map of yourself and your saddle. Then -- and you may need another eye on this -- feel out the mechanical interactions on the trails or roads you ride, and see if there are places to optimize. Bike feel like it's oversteering, or tires hitting a point where you feel you're losing contact?  All these things are controllable.  
  • Personal and other accessories: This ranges from hydration to clothing to tools, and how you carry and prep these.
  • Ride prep: This is optional but looking at how you organize your riding equipment -- bike, clothing and accessories -- and how well in advance you have everything 'ride ready' -- is a big key to having a great ride. If you are the type to plan a ride but only toss what you need in the car 10 minutes before a ride, chances are higher of something being awry. For best results, create a separate area where everything you need is together, and leave your bag packed. When you return from a ride, while sipping that frosty beverage, take the time to think through things you noticed might need attention before the next ride, make some notes, and go ahead and clean your bike and get as many things back to ride ready as possible. 

February has a little more space and time at the shop to help you think these things through, if you need another brain and set of eyes on things, too.

By slowing down and taking the time to consider and get in front of and trying to avoid any and all things that can conceivably go wrong, plus adding some small new items or optimizations, will make your and your friends and family's experiences much better.