Your bicycle is very important for racing and for having fun riding and keeping your bike in good condition is just as important.  Here are some tips on how to maintain, setup and even purchase a bike.  If you have any questions that you would like answered send an e-mail and an answer will be posted.

Time To Check Your Bike

This is a reminder to check your bike over to make sure that it's safe to ride and race!  Here are the things you or your parents can check over before every race.

1.  Tires.  Make sure there is enough air pressure in the tires.  50 to 70 psi for 1.5 inch or larger tires and 70 to 100 psi for the 1 3/8 and 1 1/8 tires.  The air pressure should be checked at least every other week or more.

2.  Nuts and Bolts.  Make sure that all the nuts and bolts are snug and tight, especially those that hold the wheels on.  Also check the cranks and handle bars to make sure they have no "play" in them and that the bolts are tight.  While you are checking the nuts and bolts, spray a little Jig-A-Loo lubricant on the threads to keep them from rusting on.  Jig-A-Loo can be purchased at Canadian Tire.

3.  The Chain.  This is the part that make the bike go!  It should be rust free and clean and it shouldn't be too loose.  Chain oil that is typically used on mountain bikes isn't the best product to use on BMX bike chains.  Chain oil can cause dirt to collect in the chain and is very messy.  Like with the nuts and bolts, spray Jig-A-Loo lubricant on the chain and let it soak in.  Dirt won't collect on the chain with this product and it isn't messy.  Try to put this product on every couple of weeks.  If you are not comfortable adjusting the chain if it's loose then either take it to your local bike shop or ask for help at the track.

All About Tires

OK, the season is going and you've got your bike all tuned up.  If you haven't then please refer to the "Pre-Season Check" article.  One of the most important part of your bike is the tires.  They are also the part that are thought of the least when checking the bike over.  So here is some information that should be helpful.

Tire pressure:

Tire pressure is very important as it can influence not only how the bike roles but how it handles on a track.  There really isn't a "correct" tire pressure as each racer finds something that works for them, however here are some guidelines.  The higher the pressure, the better the bike will roll, however the bike won't absorb the bumps as well.  If the pressure is too low, the bike will be harder to pedal and as you lean or go into a corner the tire can "roll" on the rim, making it harder to control in a corner.  Low pressure will also make the tube more likely to be "pinched" between the tire and rim, resulting in a puncture.  For heaver riders, 150 pounds or heaver,  a tire pressure of between 35 psi and 70 psi is where the tire should be.  Most riders in this category will use between 50 and 60 psi.  For younger riders, especially if they run the "skinny" wheels, the tire pressure should be between 60 psi and 90 psi.  Tire pressure should be checked every couple of races and in fact the "skinny" tires should be checked before every race as they hold less air and even a small loss of air can result in low tire pressure.

Pre-Season Bike Check

Welcome to the first Bike Check installment and because the season is almost here, this is what we will concentrate on.

Bikes are machines and like all machines they need maintenance on a regular basis in order to function safely and to perform at it's best.  Prior to every race season a BMX bike should be throughly gone over.  Before this is done, however, the bike should be cleaned.  If you don't feel comfortable doing this then this can be taken care of by your local bike shop.  Regardless of who does the work, these are the items that need to be looked after.

Wheels and tires.  

This is the part of the bike that makes it "roll" along the track.  Anyway, the spokes on the wheels need to be checked for tension and at the same time trued.  The hubs and axles need to be checked to make sure the wheels roll smoothly.  If the bearings are sealed then not much needs to be done, other then making sure they are clean.  If they are not sealed then the bearings should be cleaned and greased.  The tires should be checked and if there are any holes are cracks they should be replaced.  Also, if the tread is worn then they should be replaced, unless you want to skid and fall.  Finally the air pressure needs to be checked and more air added if necessary.  Air pressure is a personal preference but it should be between 35 and 60 psi for tires that are 1.5 inches or wider and between 60 and 100 psi for the 1 1/8 and 1 3/8 inch tires.

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