New Year’s resolution; check your gear.
It seems hard to believe that another year has passed so quickly. Time gets away from us luckily and hopefully because you are out there on your bike, pedaling up the hills creating epic adventures with your friends. As the New Year approaches take a few minutes to assess your gear, how old it is, its condition and make a plan for replacing those important or worn items that are due.
Check your helmet. This is one of the worse offenses ever—you’ve seen that person on the group ride who is still wearing a thick, round Styrofoam helmet from the eighties? There are good reasons to update your helmet:
- Helmets have a shelf life that is generally agreed to be approximately three years. There have been companies who claimed to test their helmets and found them to be viable for up to eight years…but seriously, eight years ago a helmet looked like this
do you really want to be that person?
- If you’ve crashed your helmet at all it needs to be replaced. A very generic way to look at it is that helmets are tested at drops of 2-6 feet, so if you’ve put it high on a garage shelf and it accidentally fell off; time to replace it. Also note that if you crashed, you can’t always see a visible crack or dent in the helmet, so it probably did its job of reducing impact, but needs to be replaced.
- Technology changes quickly and you want to be wearing the best. Every year innovators create new products to keep our brains safe. Especially in this decade when lots of research is going into the study of concussion and its long term effects; helmet technology reaps the benefit of those findings. New products such as helmets with MIPS (Multi Directional Impact Protection System) are flooding the market place. Be sure to visit your local shop often or use the web to keep up on the latest innovations to protect your most valuable asset.
- Lastly, style. Let’s face it style is important. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Make your club, team and local shop happy by representing well.
Check your cleats.
- Everyone knows most road cleats aren’t made to be walked in, but hey, there’s the coffee shop and the group is stopping; it’s just a few feet right? Sure there are cleat covers, but really how often do your remember to use them?
- If you are using Shimano cleats and the color has worn off; replace them.
- If you are using Speedplay cleats and the metal corners are no longer square because you have ground them off or your screws keep coming loose; replace the cleats.
- If your cleats are SPDs, check for damage to the cleats, worn surfaces, missing screws and/or imbedded dirt or rocks in the cleat.
- Since you’re already staring at the bottom of your shoes go ahead and give them a once over as well; check the buckles, soles and interior for damage as well as the cosmetic look of the exterior and decide if it’s time to upgrade your shoes to better represent your socks.
See also: dont forget this is the best time of the year to clean your bike
Check your saddle.
- Is it still in the right place? Assuming you’ve had a proper bike fit, measure your saddle position to be sure it hasn’t changed over time. Even a millimeter of change can cause discomfort, so check seat height and reach to make sure it matches your fit numbers.
- Check the saddle thickness. Is it more worn on one side than the other causing it to compress or become uneven? Changes in thickness can indicate that the integrity of your saddle is compromised; it can also make your butt hurt. Let’s hope your riding enough to wear your saddle paddling down, but think about how nice a new one will feel!
- Look for rips, tears and cracking in the fabric of your saddle. First and foremost these will cause your kit to become ripped in the most awkward of places. Secondly, these area point to places of possible friction that can often lead to saddle sores. Fabric wear can come from crashing, sun damage or just from age; if you can see the interior material than definitely get a new saddle. Now that you’re certain your head, butt and feet are well cared for go ahead and check your bike. Of course you’ve kept up to date on the maintenance of your bike; if not get in for a New Year’s tune up, but also check the look of your bike.
- Could your bar tape use a freshening up? Are your bar end plugs still present?
- What do your hoods look like? Is the rubber sticky, ripped or worn away? For less than $20.00 your hands could feel a lot better with soft, durable new hoods.
- The tool bag…has it been hanging there for years with shredded Velcro, duct tape on the corners? Maybe an upgrade is in order and while you are there, be sure to check that you have the necessary tools inside to fix any mechanicals you may have on the road. Last thing to do is set your New Year’s riding goals, book that next adventure and upgrade your Strava software. Then just enjoy as many worry-free miles as your legs can handle.
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