Taking care of your new road bike

Your new bike, like all bikes from Chain Reaction, is essentially a high-performance vehicle. With proper attention to a few basics, it will give you years of fun.

The following items are very important to your bike's well-being:

#1: Proper tire pressure
#2: Ride carefully
#3: Chain cleaning & Derailleur maintenance
#4: Avoid "slam" and "cross-shifting"
#5: Learn how to use "Quick-Release" wheels
#6: Don't miss your bike's "30-day check"

#1: Proper tire pressure is very important! Too little air in your tires greatly increases the likelihood of getting "compression cuts", which are caused by bottoming out the tire on the rim when hitting a bump. These punctures are easily identified by the type of damage to the tube: a thin slit (sometimes two parallel slits) running lengthwise along the tube.

Too low pressure also greatly increases rolling resistance, meaning that you have to pedal a lot harder to go the same speed. In addition, since air literally cushions your bike's components, low tire pressure accelerates wear and tear on your frame, fork and wheel parts. Too much pressure may cause the tire to want to blow off the rim as well as giving you a harsh ride.

Chain Reaction recommends always running your tires at the pressure rating listed on the sidewall of the tire. Unlike mountain bikes, road bike tires have a narrow range of acceptable pressure, making it essential that you check for the right amount of air before every ride! We suggest either a separate pressure gauge ($3.95-$14.95) or a pump with a built-in gauge (The TREK Air Slim for about $30 is highly recommended and nearly bullet-proof).

#2: Ride carefully. Most damage to tires, tubes and rims can be avoided if the rider is careful about how and where the bike is ridden.

In a world seemingly full of broken glass and potholes, it's important to keep a vigilant eye on the road ahead. Constantly scan the road in front of you, both for moving hazards (cars, dogs, people) as well as less-obvious things like new patches of pavement, which frequently are either sunken or raised (but may not look that way). Also, develop a very healthy respect of railroad tracks (especially when wet!). It is unbelievably easy for road-bike tires to turn into the slot next to the rail and bring you to a head-first stop.

As for glass (and any other sharp objects you might run over), if you can't avoid it, immediately check your tires both visually and by spinning it while running your hand over the top of it. Skilled riders are sometimes able to "glove" a tire (scraping it with a gloved hand) while riding, but this can be quite dangerous as it requires a high degree of skill and control.

#3: A clean and lubed chain is a requirement for proper shifting performance! Especially with the new Hyperglide shifting systems, it is essential to keep your chain clean and lubed...something far too few people bother with. A clean chain shifts better, runs quieter, and is much less likely to jam than a dirty one.

Cleaning your chain (as well as the freewheel cogs at the back and the chainrings in the front) requires the use of a solvent, usually brushed or sprayed on, to remove the grime and grit. After the chain dries, it should be lubricated with something like Tri-flow or, better yet, one of the new synthetic-wax lubes like Allsop, which attract much less dirt.

Besides cleaning and lubrication, it's also essential to make sure your gears remain properly adjusted. If you continue to ride a bicycle that exhibits problems while shifting, it's quite possible that you may experience a broken chain or even the failure of the part of the frame that connects to the rear derailleur. Please bring the bike back to the shop for adjustment as quickly as possible so that small problems may be easily corrected, instead of becoming bigger problems.

#4: Shifting Technique. With the advent of Hyperglide derailleurs, it is now possible to shift under pressure and still be certain of a clean shift. This is great for those times you get into trouble and don't have a chance to ease off on the pedals and shift "properly." However, "slam" or "power-shifting" is very hard on your chain and cogs, and greatly increases the likelihood of bent chainrings, broken chains and "chain suck." When you need to shift in a hurry, it'll perform flawlessly for you, but when possible, be kind to your bike and ease off on the pedals while shifting.

Also, when the chain is on the largest rear cog and the largest front sprocket, avoid shifting the front derailleur! We call this "cross-shifting", and it invites the possibility of throwing the chain off the front chainring and onto the frame. If possible, shift the rear derailleur to a smaller cog first and then shift the front, or, better yet, don't ride in the large-front/large-rear combination in the first place.

Finally, chains don't last forever and require replacement every 1200-2000 miles or so. If you keep riding with a worn chain, you can do serious damage to your rear cogs and dramatically affect shifting efficiency.

#5: Learn how "Quick-Release" wheels operate. Nearly all bikes are now equipped with special "quick-release" devices which enable you to easily remove and install the wheels without use of any tools. While these "quick-releases" are incredibly handy, they can also be the source of major trouble if improperly used. At Chain Reaction, we make it a point to demonstrate how "quick-release" wheels work with every bike we sell, and then have the customer try it.

Improper use of "quick-release" wheels can, in some cases, result in the loss of a wheel while riding. On the other hand, when used properly, this type of wheel retention method is one of the most reliable devices you'll encounter. They virtually never fail or cause trouble unless improperly used.

Whether you purchased a bike from Chain Reaction or not, if you ever have any questions about how "quick-releases" work, please ask for a demonstration.

#6: FREE 30-Day Check. Just like a new car, it's important to bring in your bike for a complete check and adjustment during the first 30-60 days. During this break-in period, your bike's bearings may loosen slightly, and brake & gear cables will stretch. Chain Reaction's "30-day check" actually takes more time and resources than many shops spend building a bike. The good news is that, unlike a new car, this extensive check-up is free!

Please note that the "30-day check" does not include removal of the drivetrain for cleaning; if you have not maintained it as noted in section #3 above, there may be a charge of up to $25 for the extra services required. Also, failure to bring in your bike during the 30-60 day period of time could result in damage to components (especially bearings) that is not covered by warranty.


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1451 El Camino Redwood City, CA 94063 (650) 366-7130
2310 Homestead (Foothill Crossing), Los Altos, CA 94024 (408) 735-8735

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Web Author: Mike Jacoubowsky, Chain Reaction Bicycles
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Chain Reaction sells bicycles & accessories from Trek, Gary Fisher, BikeFriday,Shimano, Pearl Izumi, Continental, Descente,
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