LeanIn Cornering©

LeanIn Cornering© Concepts

lean left rider small

The objective of LeanIn Cornering©  Concepts is to provide rider training utilizing relevant information, how-to bike handling skills and drills that will make for a better and safer road rider.

Riding drills are a part of our ‘classroom’ for teaching the proper techniques to improve your bike handling abilities as well as riding into a corner and exiting out of a corner with accompanying lectures on techniques.

Rider training is possibly the most valuable aspect of riding, for any type of rider. For beginners and novices to seasoned riders. Our BST© (BrakeSteerTurn©) methods and coaching will help you to gain confidence by attaining more control over your machine.



#ridercoaching #ridertrainng #skillsanddrills

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Aging Bike Riders (A Veterans Perspective…)

LeanIn Cornering Presents: Another article in the BST© (BrakeSteerTurn) Series

Age with (Cognitive) grace
There is no getting around the fact that as we age so to do our cognitive abilities. Although each individual is different, generally this decline begins somewhere in our late 30s to early 40s and it only worsens from that point on.

As the years pass we as riders tend to sink in to a comfort zone, a familiar routine or habit of riding. Most times without realizing it, we become a bit complacent to the constant changing deficiencies of our own physiology. Yes that’s right, deficiencies. As humans age we do not improve without conscience, deliberate training or practice of a certain task or discipline. Obvious, right?

I want to make clear that this article is not referring to Vo2 max or lactate threshold (endurance and/or speed) What I am specifically writing about is riding skills. The MOST important aspect of any two wheeled riding. One of the secondary benefits of reading, writing and instructing about riding skills is that it makes me a better rider as well.

Working on ‘pedaling efficiency’ is most likely a waste of valuable time for aging athletes (unless you’re still competing at high level) One-legged drills and spinning perfect circles will NOT make you a better rider, despite what some may claim or say. Before a rider becomes efficient at pedaling, climbing or sprinting a rider should become efficient with their riding skills.


Something to keep in mind, is that perception is often not ones reality. Many riders ‘think’ that have not lost any of their acquired riding skills over the years, but the stark reality is that indeed they have. Riding skills are perishable. It is all too easy for veteran riders to think they do not need to maintain their mental acuity along with their physical skills. But rest assured, they most definitely do.


As with muscles and bones, our reaction time, hearing, vision and spatial judgement ability all degenerate as we age. So as we begin the 2019 road riding season ask yourself; are you improving or at least maintaining your skills as a rider? For most the answer is probably going to be no. But just like aerobic training to get faster or increase ones endurance, riding skills can be and should be worked on as well.

Ride Efficient
If as a road rider you desire to improve, express a mastery or just want to stay sharp at the handlebars, then practicing is paramount! Efficiency equals smooth body movements and inputs to the bars, pedals and the brakes. Being efficient means; using as much or little inputs as is necessary to achieve the goals of consistent, safe riding. Although many riders already may know the ‘material’, reading about riding techniques brings it into the consciousness. This is why even experienced, veteran riders should continually practice.

What to do about it?
Slower-speed and balance drills for the road. These include; Figure eights, tight u-turn/circles. (without dabbing a foot down) track-stands and avoidance steering maneuvers. These drills are best implemented in a parking lot or empty area with no or little danger of traffic. A cul-de-sac or dead-end is also a good place to practice.


For figure eights, ride inside a standard parking space without putting a foot down. Try this drill in both directions. If a parking space is not available, draw lines about 9′-10′ apart, about 8′-9′ in length. For steering avoidance drills, set up some small objects as ‘cones’- ideally at least eight or more. Steer through the ‘cones’ or objects at a comfortable pace in both directions. Keep your body relaxed, your eyes and head as far up as possible while doing so and then gradually increase speed throughout this drill. Track-stands are well, self explanatory…


Another drill to consider is threshold or emergency braking. In a straight line, work up some decent speed (whatever you are comfortable with) and begin to apply both the front and rear brakes gradually with increasing force until the wheels almost lock up or slightly lock up. Get a ‘feel’ for the tires locking up, familiarize yourself with this feeling. Though it can be panic inducing, with practice it will be much less so.

The Take Away
The thrust of efficient riding is confident, smooth and safe riding as opposed to just being ‘fast‘ and unpredictable. Yes, efficiency breeds speed BUT it is only relevant if a rider chooses to go fast. Rather than feeling out of sorts or having an inordinate amount of fear it is better to be in command as much as possible over the bike. This precipitates a rider to ride at nearly ANY chosen or given speed with both Confidence and Control.

Feel free to use the contact page for further information on drills and skills


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Mountain Bike Setup

This latest edition of the BST© Series (BrakeSteerTurn) article will focus on mountain bikes. Our very first endeavor into the mtb realm…

This article was prompted by a recent customer who came to the shop where I work. He brought his 2015 Santa Cruz Bantam in for some service and as we began the go over the bike we got to talking about its performance and setup. Here are 3 key tips to consider.


Turns out this was his first year of riding and he had purchased the bike used. He had rode the bike the entire season as-is. Meaning he relied on the previous owners setup without changing anything. He told me that at some trails the bike was pretty good, having a solid feeling. But at other trails, especially as speeds increased it was too bouncy, a bit jarring and unpredictable over the bigger bumps.

Basic Suspension Setup
I went on to explain that initial sag and rebound settings were the absolute most important and critical settings to dial in and get right. He acknowledged he didn’t really have a good grasp on these attributes of a suspension type bike. I told him no worries, there is a wealth of reliable info out there and then pointed him to some selected sites and channels for setup advice. (Fox, Fork-Shock Sag and for the ultimate on suspensions, the Race Tech (Suspension Bible) For more detailed and technical information check out Vorsprung Suspension.


Meanwhile, I set an initial baseline sag of 24% front and 22% rear as well as a baseline rebound setting for him. I let him know that his ideal settings will vary depending on the trail and style of riding and that he should tweak his final settings after experimenting with slightly different setups. It is very important to understand that each rider is different and has a different riding style. Simply leaving sag at 25%-30% and never micro-adjusting it is counter-productive. Same goes for Compression and Rebound settings. Baseline settings are good for just that- to establish a Baseline.


While we will not go over the exact steps to set sag, it is vital to understand how important correct fork and shock ‘spring’ sag is to each particular rider. Now, even though an air damper has no coil spring, in essence the ‘air’ is the spring. Sag, is simply how much a bikes suspension compresses under the weight of a rider. Setting sag is basically determining a specific amount of ‘preload’ on the ‘spring’. Preload is the amount that the ‘Spring’ is compressed at rest or in full extension. Too little sag and the bike will usually feel very stiff and will not compress properly when it needs to, I.E. under braking and bump compliance. Too much sag and the bike will pitch and possibly compress too much fore and aft. The take away here is that proper suspension setup is very important to stability and cornering.

Tires and Pressures
The next topic we discussed was tire pressures. Now this is both a science and an art combined in one. There are so many types of tires and compounds and most are effected differently by pressure. Finding the correct pressure for a particular trail for a particular rider takes TIME. It takes patience. Unfortunately, most riders set the pressures and leave them for all of their riding. When the tires get a bit low, they just pump them back up to whatever their shop, a friend or website has suggested.

Does it work fairly okay? Most times it does. But are they taking advantage of their particular tire, bike and suspension? Their style of riding? No. So find a baseline, then experiment. Ultimately, tire pressures (whether tubed or tubeless) should be low enough to provide good grip for cornering and braking but not pinch against the rim or blowout. Yet stiff enough to provide the proper amount of stability, grip, feedback and bump compliance.


Cockpit Setup
Lastly, we discussed body/riding position. Some and most riders tend to be “front-end” riders and a few some are “rear-end” riders. Most riders tend to be leaned forward and push the front end, hence front-end riding style. Body positioning is much more critical on a mountain bike than a road bike, therefore having a good baseline enables a rider to be able to micro-adjust her or his position while riding. MTB riding requires a rider to constantly be changing their body position in order to maximize speed, stability and grip. What is referred to as the; Rider Triangle. A riders hands, butt and feet, these are the three points of contact that provide feedback and determine the baseline body position.


Typically, shorter riders, 5′ 8″ and under benefit from flatter bars and a lower bar height I.E. (less stack spacing) this is so they are not in an unnatural position that has them tilted slightly rearward and consequently pulling on the bars which negatively affects cornering ability. Taller riders, 5’9″ and up may benefit from a riser type bar, so as not to have too much weight on the front end, have too much forward lean and subsequently having a hard time lifting the front end. Although these can be subtle nuances that may not even be visible, they do have an effect on the bikes handling as well as rider control. Seat fore/aft is another adjustment to be experimented with, in regard to cockpit length and control. Again, depending on riding style the position will vary on arm reach, maneuverability and rider comfort.


Finally to wrap it all up, remember that any suspension bike hardtail or full squish requires regular MAINTENANCE. Depending on how hard a rider rides, riding conditions, how much cleaning maintenance is done and brand of damper, service intervals can vary. But as a rule of thumb 75 hours give or take is about how much time before the front forks need a “Lower Leg Serving”  (you’ll see intervals vary from 50 to 100 hours) This basic service of cleaning out the inner fork tubes, re-greasing, checking/changing stanchion wiper seals/foam rings and replacing the fork oil is paramount for fork performance and life span.


Service is usually not too difficult with the aid of most manufacture specs and video tutorials. If the bike has a rear shock it is usually around 50-60 odd hours before having to perform an “Air Sleeve Service”, which entails checking/replacing O-rings, washer seals and replacing the oil. But again, the time table will depend on the aforementioned variables.

The Take Away
A properly setup suspension will yield dividends for a rider, both in performance and riding enjoyment! Finding the recommended baseline and then further setting up the bike for a specific rider and riding style is the key to maximize the bikes designed and intended potential.  We all know that a clean bike is happy bike… but a well setup bike
is also a very happy bike!

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Blind Corners (Riding Skills Series)

The BrakeSteerTurn (BST©) Series presents: Blind-sided

One of the two most difficult types of corners for a cyclist to get right is a blind corner. This is where the apex and/or exit are not visible upon corner entry and subsequently a rider is unable to see where they are heading and where they want to ultimately end up.
(a decreasing radius turn being the other most difficult)

The Why:
Roads that are twisting in nature are that way because they were constructed in a purposely built manner in order to travel around objects like dense hillsides, solid mountainous rock and trees.  And it is those very same objects that wind up making it impossible to see around said blind corners.

blind left turn

Typically, riders that are unable to see the apex and/or exit, wind up turning in to the corner too early. Turning in too early creates various issues and potential bad outcomes. Another ancillary issue in the mix after an early turn-in is a rider who may then attempt to make multiple steering corrections in such corners trying to ‘find’ the right line, which in itself causes inconsistent or erratic riding. And one of the most common problems is the rider running wide on corner exit, which usually results in riding close to the edge of the road and having to severely slow down or worse, riding off the road.

Along with these common rider errors comes the unknown factors of risk in blind corners and these risks tend to rise when the variables of said risk cannot be seen, until it’s too late to react. Some potential problems might be debris, potholes, gravel or worse, an oncoming obstacle or car in the riders lane. The suddenness of these potential dangers unexpectedly coming into view can be enough to cause a critical mistake.

It is these uncertain scenarios that tend to cause anxiety in many riders, which can make the immediate situation go from bad to worse. But a rider who is prepared to navigate a blind corner, a rider who is ready for whatever may be ahead is a rider who will be able to minimize that anxiety, trepidation AND risk. One of the core skills to be utilizing when encountering a blind turn is situational awareness. Anticipate. Recognize. React. or ARR! A good, safe rider should be anticipating all potential threats and outcomes at all times. And when that anticipation encounters a potential problem, the riders ability to recognize it could grant an extra second or even two, in which the rider will then be able to react.

The How To:
In a turn that is blind due to something blocking a riders view, it is best to take a wider entry (aka- squaring it off) in order to maximize how far around the corner a rider can see. While a wider entry does allow for a potentially better sight-line, it could also leave a rider vulnerable to additional risk. An example would be a decreasing radius turn- meaning if the the radius of the corner should suddenly ‘tighten’  this could pose its own set of problems. But in general the benefits of being able to see farther around the blind corner, (the vanishing point)-  provides a rider with slightly more time to react to a given situation.

wider arc 01

If this scenario plays out a rider can momentarily tighten their arc, or line toward the inside of the corner. This would be accomplished by slightly scrubbing off some speed with light braking pressure, or trail braking into the corner from the get go.  Another possible danger is in right-hand turns, where a wide entry could potentially leave a rider more exposed to an oncoming car.

In order to minimize this oncoming risk potentiality, the method of utilizing trail braking becomes more crucial and offers a rider better control on corner entry and apex. In short, trail braking is the technique of continually braking (lightly) beyond the turn-in point. A rider then gradually “trails” off the brake pressure on the lever as lean angle is added, typically braking until reaching the apex where brake pressure on the lever is then fully released.

Notice trail braking action and pressure on the left (rear brake) lever during cornering.

The Take Away:
Taking a wider arc upon corner entry can provide a rider additional time to utilize the full field of vision through a blind corner to negotiate and react to most riding situations. Also, by ‘setting’ the proper corner entry speed with trail braking, a rider has a better chance to make mid-corner corrections in order to ‘pull’ themselves back towards the inside of the turn if necessary, through both braking and steering.

Now I know this is well and good on paper, but in real world scenarios at speed, a rider only has a second or fractions of a second to make these decisions and corrections. This is why it is SO very important to practice these riding skills on a regular basis. Ignore them and eventually a riders shortcomings will catch up and reap not rewards but losses.


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Riding Skills: Crash Analyses (Philippe Gilbert)

Some fans, causal observers and even experienced riders may dismiss Gilbert’s crash as just being a product of simply going too fast on too narrow of roads, but this is not case. Speed was not the cause, though speed was a contributor. So, let’s breakdown Philippe Gilbert’s crash on Stage 16 of the 2018 Le Tour France.

Very experienced and one of the best bike handlers in the peloton, Gilbert made a rare mistake, but a big mistake none-the-less. Given the many variables, including; weather, surface conditions and fatigue, mistakes are not excluded by the pro’s or the experienced. In short, Gilbert carried way too much corner entry speed and was simply off the proper line. Meaning he was off the ‘racing‘ or ‘fast‘ line through the corner(s)

Alt video link: Crash on Descent Video

In the video at 1 second in, Gilbert is on a good line for the slight left-hand bend. At 3 seconds in, he appears to be on a good line, about to clip the right hand apex. Though  he initiated his entry slightly too early. Followed by the fact that the next left-hander is  ‘blind’ on entry and very slightly decreasing in radius. When any corner is preceded by one or a succession of tight radii turns, it is imperative that a rider apex ‘later’ than the geographical apex suggests. Or for the corner in question, (the tight left-hander) it required the rider to square the entry off. In this case, Gilbert did not.

You can see that Gilbert’s exit of the preceding right-hand bend was a bit wide, which put him on a ‘bad’ line for the entry of the approaching left-hander. At 4 seconds in, his fate was already sealed. It’s too late. That is how quickly things unfold at speeds in the 40 to 50 mph range. At second 5 of the clip, notice how Gilbert is entering the offending left bend much too early and too shallow. This is disastrous as it put him way out, off line and subsequently over the wall. It didn’t help that he  ‘fixated’ on the wall and impending doom. Though much to his credit, he minimized the impact and crash by scrubbing off some speed with rear wheel steering.

The crash played itself out as a classic ‘wide and early‘ exit due to being too fast in his corner entry speed (it appears that he did not ‘set’ his corner entry speed, using trail or light initial braking) and he made too early of a corner turn-in or entry point- not only in the offending corner, BUT also the previous corner. In this particular case, Gilbert was navigating multiple corners in succession. This is where ‘Line Building’ becomes very crucial. The offending corner posed two challenges; the first was that the corner is ‘blind’ on entry. Meaning a rider is unable to see the exit. The second issue is that corner is slightly decreasing in its radius.

A tight entry line (a result of turning in too early) means that on the exit the bike will be traveling more towards the edge of the road as opposed to being pointed up the tarmac to the next straight or set of bends. A tight entry usually results in a wide exit. Of the three main parts of a corner (entry, apex and exit) the exit is by far the most important. A riders ability to get the bike slowed just enough to match the corner’s radius is the main key, whether this is accomplished through braking or coasting. Think of corner entry as a tool to get the bike slightly slowed, turned, pointed and ready to exit on the proper line.

A ‘later’ apex line will have a rider going deeper into the corner and then turning quicker (utilizing counter steering) to get onto the correct line. This is also referred to as ‘squaring the corner off’ and in the section of road Gilbert was attacking, the layout and subsequent corners required Gilbert to ‘square off’ the entry of the that particular slightly decreasing radii left-hander in order to first, make the corner and second to be on the proper exit line.

Of course it should go without saying that good Vision Techniques are also absolutely critical. How a riders brain perceives the ‘space’ (spatial judgment) at any given time/distance (velocity) and subsequent cerebral information, will dictate a riders input to the bike. Keep in mind that this all happening in fractions of a second.

Another byproduct of not executing proper corner entry is sometimes due to “lazy steering” and this tends to get some riders in trouble. The quickness of steering plays a significant role in corner entry speed and learning to steer (counter steer) the bike quickly and precisely will help a rider to negotiate fast corners in a SAFE and efficient manner.

The Take Away
Being fast or as we like to say, Efficient isn’t about being aggressive at all. It’s about being smooth on the bike. Smooth, consistent body movements, steering inputs and forward vision. The sensation or visceral experiences when cornering fast can be frustrating, concerning and even dangerous. The ‘perception’ of speed is often not a direct link to actual speed. This is why a riders Vision cast as far up the road as possible is so crucial. Of course all of these aspects are tied together by one factor: FOCUS and ATTENTION.

In closing, we are all relieved that Phil Gil was not seriously injured and will fight and hopefully ride in the next Tour! Vive Le Tour!

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Riding Skills: Aggregation and Attention

Welcome to another installment of the BST© (BrakeSteerTurn) riding skills series.

It is Paramount and in fact is the key skill to absorbing and processing information. And when you are riding a bike at any sort of moderate to fast speeds we are talking about absorbing and processing within fractions of a second. Given that velocity and stimuli trigger a visceral response, it is imperative that a rider remain deliberate in their focus.

At 16 mph, a rider and bike are covering 24 feet per second. At 22 mph, it is 32 feet per second, at 30 mph it is 44 feet per second AND at 40 mph, a rider and bike are traveling 59 feet per second! That’s like falling six stories in ONE second folks. BAM. You think you can react in time without 100% focus and concentration? It is very doubtful.

Keeping your concentration sharp should entail the Situational Awareness skill of ‘Anticipation’. This anticipating mode of thinking should also be accompanied by ‘Recognition’ and (pro) ‘Reaction’ rather than being an afterthought. It’s a term we at Leanin Cornering have coined; Anticipate, Recognize and React or “ARR

A rider should also be constantly anticipating what’s coming next rather than waiting for something to occur and THEN ‘over’ or ‘under’ reacting. In this state of heightened awareness, things are sometimes perceived almost as occurring in slow motion.

rider focus

A riders attention must be 100% focused on the task at hand. This includes the immediate and future path, not only directly in front of the wheel but the path beyond. The field of vision must extend as far up the road and-or pathway as possible. As well as taking advantage of the 170 degrees of peripheral vision to the left and right. Focusing on the background is more important than fixating on the foreground, but most important a riders eyes should be constantly scanning, never fixed.

Dealing with Distractions
There is a direct connection between the Mind and Body with regard to physical and mental fatigue. Once a riders physical state becomes fatigued, the brain also becomes fatigued, the two cannot be separated. Fatigue is often the main cause of riders lack of concentration, focus, the dropping of the head and consequently their vision. This bad habit can be dangerous and even fatal and it is thee cardinal sin of riding a bicycle. Head up, eyes up, always.

Fatigue and the resulting lapses of concentration along with the inability to focus at the required maximum level has consequences and they are not positive. ‘Spirited’ type riding and-or racing a bicycle is not a social activity folks, it is serious business and requires serious attention. Focus and concentration are a must and need to be continuous for the entire time that the bike is in motion.

Vision and where a rider is looking is obviously a critical part of riding. It enables better reaction time, increased control and helps to avoid panic situations. Good vision technique begets smooth transitions in braking effort, steering, corner entry speed and above all consistency.

Cornering bike handling-

Other aspects to think about are the simple things like breathing and the level of grip on the bars, doing it incorrectly can contribute to rider fatigue as well. So It is crucial to keep these practices in mind and be cognizant of all the ancillary contributors to being an efficient AND safe rider.

The Take Away
Unless you are by riding yourself wandering about, going very slow a riders focus and concentration should be the main thrust. It shouldn’t be worrying about pedal cadence and other inconsequential nonsense. If you are riding in a group, whether it’s 2 or 20 you have a responsibility, not only to yourself but especially to the others around you.

Now because we are all human and flawed it is not always possible to focus and concentrate 100% at every given moment. Therefore it is imperative that a rider refocus their attention often, and more so as the pace increases. Vision, Awareness and Concentration. Make it a priority today and make it a priority always.

He or she who focuses the mostes, will avoid the hocus pocus…
Now get out there and ride!  😉

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Riding Skills: Zen & the Art of becoming… der Rainmeister

The BST© (BrakeSteerTurn) Series presents… Wet Weather riding tips.

Oh rain foretold…so they say. Yup, it’s Spring time and that means we will get the obligatory spring showers. And at some point you will find yourself riding in wet conditions.

Maybe you rolled out and it was just drizzling, maybe the sky was overcast, but it wasn’t raining. Or perhaps you were out and the skies just opened up and down it came. Whichever scenario it might have been…you were probably none too happy about wheeling your machine in hap hazard conditions.


The first thing a rider needs to do when traction becomes limited is to relax and be smooth with their inputs to the bike…being rigid or tense will only exacerbate the problem of the reduced road/tire friction they are facing.

And it’s not only the falling water that potentially reduces traction, but it is also the porous pavement that has soaked up oils which are then brought to the surface when the rain pellets the tarmac. Add to the possibly treacherous conditions, painted lines and the always dreaded manhole covers! Eventually the oils get washed away, but this is just another unknown variable and obstacle in the equation for a rider. Just keep in mind that margins of error become less in the wet.

With less grip available in the ‘traction bank’ the machine is also less forgiving. To that end a rider needs to be mindful and steady with body position, steering input, pedaling stroke and braking applications. Obviously there should be less bike lean when cornering in the wet. Instead leaning the body a bit more while keeping the bike as upright as possible, this will serve to maximize the tires ‘footprint’ on the road. Also brake a bit earlier than normal as well, before corner entry. (especially if you ride on carbon rims- without disc brakes)

proper lean technique

When approaching a corner that requires braking,  squeeze the lever progressively, not abruptly. As we like to say; the method of “stab-and-grab” will surely put you on your ass… But rather progressive braking pressure using BOTH front and rear brakes when its wet will give a rider more grip and less slip potentiality. Generally, a rider should aim for a wider line through a corner, rather a tighter line. This will allow for a bit less lean angle and decrease the chances for ‘washing’ or sliding the front tire out from under the bike.

maxresdefault (2)

One other tip is to lower your tire pressures. Now there is not an across the board psi decrease but in general, 5-10 psi less is a start. It will vary depending on rider weight and tire size. I.E., 23mm wide, 25mm wide 28mm and 32mm and up widths. The wider the tire, the less air pressure you can safely run. And please, if anyone is thinking that there is more rolling resistance… it’s time to check out this new fangled thing called the internet! Where there is a boat load of newer research and PoC about tires, widths and pressures. A good starting point is at Jan Heine’s blog.

Lowering tire pressures will provide a slightly larger contact patch and will also allow the tire to push down into the pavement a bit more, providing more potential grip. As for widths, why anyone would still be on 23mm’s is baffling…but then again most roadies tend to not truly embrace anything that isn’t typically rooted in some archaic narrative…
😀 😀 😀
Here’s your checklist for riding in the rain:
>Lower tire pressures
>Cover the brake levers (two fingers)
>Relax your body
>Be smooth

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In addition to having the necessary skills and certainty to be a safe and efficient rider…you must also have a safe bicycle to ride! Having a machine that is sound and dependable is a crucial component to a riders well-being and confidence.

With the Spring season comes the beginning of an increased amount of riding for most (usually). The last thing you want happening is a mechanical issue or a failure as you’re getting into the riding groove or about to go on that big group ride.

There are two very important, no actually critical aspects of your bike that should always be serviced/maintained. Brakes and Tires.  Now is the time to inspect and or replace those items that stop the bike and keep your butt upright! Pads, rotors and tires are the very foundation of stability and traction.

There are two main types of bike brakes; rim and discs. Within those two main types there are various differences. (see illustration below) But the idea and properties behind each one are relatively the same. In order to work properly, the brake pads and calipers must operate properly and efficiently. This means inspecting the appropriate parts to ensure all is in good working order.


bicycle-brake types

Rather than go over each individual step, I’ll refer you to some videos for that. But I will suggest a few tips and tricks. Even if you’re not comfortable replacing parts, the least you can do is inspect and clean the brakes frequently. There are too many variables to say specifically when to do this, because it is dependent on ride frequency, riding style and climate conditions. Perhaps at the very least, every other ride inspect pads/rims/rotors, calipers and clean the braking tracks on the wheel of rim style brakes. Using either brake cleaner or isopropyl alcohol.


With rim types, check the pads for debris or small metallic slivers stuck in the pads.  Inspect the braking tracks on the rim itself as well. If there any burs on the rim, lightly sand them down after having cleaned them. Also check for any deep grooves and cracks in the surface or on the edges, making sure the surface is relatively in tact.

For disc types, wipe or blow off with air pressure any (dried) muck or mud on and inside the calipers/discs. Inspect the disc for cracks or any unusual surface irregularities. Then clean the disc rotor using a solvent mentioned above. Being careful NOT to touch the disc with your bare hands/fingers. If there is still burnishing or a glaze on the rotor, you can use a very light grit sand paper or even a scotchbrite type pad on the disc to ‘de-glaze’ the rotor if necessary. You can do the same with the pads as long as there is sufficient ‘life’ left in them, usually 2mm-1.5mm of pad thickness. Less than that and it’s time for new pads!


There are several good videos on how to inspect, clean and replace braking parts. I recommend the Park Tool videos and instruction for (both disc and rim type) brakes. While it may seem a bit daunting to some, it’s really not too difficult as a step-by-step process, with only a few tools needed. Allen wrenches, needle nose pliers/pad spreader (for discs), sand paper and a solvent cleaner. (Isopropyl alcohol works fine if you don’t have brake cleaner. If a disc spreader is not in your tool box, a good plastic tire lever works just as well!

Almost as important as the brakes are to the stopping ability of your bike, so too are the tires. The very same frictional contact patch that allows you to peel off into a corner is also the same contact patch that creates the friction necessary to aid in halting the bike. Of course it goes without saying that your tires are the first line of defense or offense  [ depending on how you ride! 😀 ]   in having a good performing and safe bicycle!

Inspecting your tires should be a regular and almost religious practice before and after every single ride. Yes, every single ride. Bicycle tires are very susceptible to cuts and tears that may not first appear from a distance or if they do, seem highly important. And a small nick may not be that bad after all. But, getting up close and personal with your tires is very important.  -Sweet talk them…. gently rub your palms and fingers over their shapely surface, telling them how much you appreciate their hard, tireless work!  Give them a keen longing look… Uh hum, okay let’s not get carried away now!  😀


While you are checking for any irregularities you are also checking for wear. How do know when it’s time to change them? Well if you have cords coming through…it’s way past that time sunshine. If your tires have a ‘tread’ it will be obvious, as the tread wears down, the tire will appear more and more like a slick tire. Some tires have ‘wear indicators’ built in. So, once the indicator becomes nearly even with the surface of the tire, it’s time folks. For slick tires, check for the center of tire becoming less rounded, meaning the profile is flattening out. This will most likely occur on the rear tire first.


Next, check the sidewalls of the tires. Look for cracks and tears or anything that would affect the integrity of the tire. Also, checking the tire bead as you go along. Having tires that are in good condition are paramount to performance AND safety.


Setting aside a short time to inspect, clean and/or replace brakes and tires will yield dividends in your riding season. Not too mention keep you safe as well! If none of this appeals to you or seems too daunting, then by all means take your ride to the local LBS… either way, be mindful as to the importance of good brakes and tires.

Brakes and tires…tires and brakes, it’s a wise rider who has the time to make! 

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