Continuing our mini-series on the pre-ride bike check, the Pedal Taiwan cycling expert, Julia, brings you part 3. In part 1  covered the front wheel, part 2 the headset and handlebars. This time, we look at the fiddly bits around the chain and bottom bracket. 



In previous articles we’ve looked at how to check the front wheel, handle bars and headset. Now we move to the middle of the ‘M’ in the M-check, to the chain, chain ring pedals and bottom bracket.



When I first started riding it never occurred to me to clean my chain. I remember arriving at a race and a friend being aghast at the state of my chain – so clogged up with grime and grit that it could hardly bend! He told me I could knock at least 5% off my time with a clean chain and since then I’ve been a bit more careful to clean and lubricate the chain regularly.

You can buy a pretty effective chain cleaning tool that you fill with cleaning fluid then clamp around the chain. You turn the pedals and the chain travels through the brushes inside the casing and gets a good clean. Many of the tools have magnets in the bottom to collect metal fragments.

In the absence of a snazzy tool, an old toothbrush and a dish of chain cleaner will do the trick.

After using the cleaning tool give the chain a good wash and dry then lubricate with chain oil and wipe over with a cloth to remove excess oil.

A clean chain not only lasts longer, it also helps the chain ring and cassette to last longer as it’s not scouring them with grit.


Chain Ring

The chain ring is the big ring in the centre of the bike that the chain passes over. You may have just one, two or even three of different sizes. Over time the teeth of the chain ring wear, and when they are very worn the chain can start to slip over the teeth as you ride, which can be very dangerous.  A tell-tale sign of wearing is asymmetric teeth with a shark-tooth appearance. If yours looks like the one below, it’s time for a trip to the bike shop for a new one.




Make sure the pedals rotate smoothly; if they don’t easily spin apply some grease. Also check that they are properly screwed into the crankarm – it’s easy for the screws to get cross-threaded when the pedals are first inserted. If you need to remove your pedals remember that the right pedal screws in and out the ‘normal’ way, but the left pedal is screwed in anti-clockwise and screwed out clockwise.  This is so that when you’re riding forwards you aren’t unscrewing the pedals!


Bottom Bracket

The bottom bracket is the piece of wizardry that goes through the frame and holds the cranks on either side allowing them to rotate when you pedal.  Fixing or fiddling with it is not a job for an amateur. If it feels loose, if the cranks can move side to side or if you feel slippage when you pedal, it’s a trip to the bike shop.


Stay tuned next week for part 4, where will continue are guide to everything you need to check before you ride!


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