Top five pre-race bike checks


I’ve spent the last month or so gallivanting around the country, partying. Which has been great fun but not exactly conducive to sticking to my London Duathlon training plan. Still, as long as I can work out how to get there on Sunday, I’ll be at the start line. It’ll probably take me three hours to complete it but I’ve never done a duathlon before and I really want to do it.

Below, London Duathlon and their partner, Bikelab, share their top five pre-race checks. Maybe they should add a sixth one: Don’t spend the month leading up to the event getting pissed.

1. The "drop test" Hold bike 6" from the ground and drop it to see if anything rattles.

2. Wheels and Tyres:

· Spin the wheels in the frame and look for any kinks or side-to-side movement. If you’re in any doubt, get your wheels trued by a pro

· Look for broken spokes – replacing any that are broken

· Inspect the condition of your tyres; look for cuts, nicks or surface flaws

· Tyres should "look healthy", the rubber smooth, without uneven wear, distortion or cracking & deterioration of the compound.

· If your tyre is a tubular, try to push it off all around the rim

· Check tyre pressures, especially on race day. Inflate your tyres, based on manufacturers recommendations, which are stamped or printed onto the sidewall

· Keep an eye on the pressure over a few days of use – any drop in pressure could indicate a slow puncture

3. Brakes

· Spin the wheels again, testing each brake independently

· At full pressure, it shouldn’t be possible to pull the levers all the way to the bars.

· Check pads for wear, especially irregular wear, some brake blocks have wear indication lines to help with this. Check that pads touch the wheel rim at the same time, they are central, do not touch the tyre sidewall and are free from bits of grit/aluminium

4. Gears

Take the bike for a quick spin and run up and down the full range of gears – if you have access to a workstand, run the gears whilst making minor adjustments

· Check for smooth, reliable gear changes on the rear cassette

· On the front chainrings, shifts between small and large chain rings should be smooth. The chain should never fall off the chain-rings, when shifting the front derailleur. You should be able to change up and down quickly – almost ‘aggressively’ and still not drop the chain

· Wipe down the chain and clean, then lubricate the transmission, using cycle specific cleaners and lubricants

5. Check other parts of the bike;  frame, bars & stem, saddle, pedals, cables etc. – you are looking for dents, cracks, split or fraying parts

· Look for any ‘play’ (looseness) or roughness in bearings such as the headset, pedals or bottom bracket

· Grab each item and tug it from side-to-side, feeling for signs of movement

· Check the headset for play by putting front brake on and rocking the bike backwards and forwards – a loose headset will result in play you can feel. to make sure it’s not overly tight or worn, lift the front of the bike off the ground and allow the handlebars to swing freely from side to side. They should move under their own weight, without any ‘notchy’ movement

Just before race day, you’ll only need to lubricate the chain and gear pivots, pack your race-day kit (spare tube / tyre levers / multi-tool) and away you go!”

If you are not sure about checking your bike at home, Bikelab is offering London Duathlon duathletes a 10% discount on workshop services when you show your race entry at the shop.

On event day, Bikelab will be on-site offering duathletes bike maintenance throughout the race to make sure your London Duathlon experience is trouble free. 

To register for London Duathlon 2014, please visit for further information.

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