Pre-race nerves are not improved by arriving at the track to find you’re missing an essential spare or that there is damage to your bike that needs fixing. When you are preparing for a race, there are some core checks that should be carried out by every rider, no matter your level of experience. The type of race will make a difference, of course, and you might need to do more than the bare minimum to ensure your safety and enjoyment on race day.
Invest some time before hitting the track, and work through our pre-race checklist to avoid unnecessary hassle when you arrive.
The way you check your bike before a race should be no different than the safety inspection you might carry out before hitting the trails or going out for a training ride. However, in the middle of planning and packing for race day, some checks may be forgotten. You know your bike and will know what needs special attention before racing, but make a start with the essentials below.
◻︎ Tyres – your tyres must be in good condition, and suit the track you’re racing on. If you use tubes, make sure the pressure is fitting to the terrain, or choose a worn-in mousse to avoid risk of puncture.
◻︎ Suspension – match your suspension to the track and conditions. Make sure the suspension does not leak.
◻︎ Brakes – make sure you will be able to stop your bike in a hurry on race day. Check over the brake pads for thickness, and ensure the discs are clean and not warped.
◻︎ Fluids – take some time to check the levels of engine and transmission oil, chain lube, engine coolant, brake fluid and fork oil. And don’t forget to make sure there is enough fuel in the tank for your race!
◻︎ Visual check – go over the bike to ensure there is no existing damage that needs to be addressed before race day. Check that all nuts/bolts are tightened and the spoke and chain tension is good to go.
Check every item before packing it. Look for holes or wear that might cause you problems on race day. Check especially the fastenings and closures, and pay extra attention to your helmet and chest protector, checking for any cracks or damage. If you’re helping your child prepare for a race, don’t forget they grow all the time. There’s nothing worse then finding safety gear is damaged or doesn’t fit properly on race day!
◻︎ Chest Protector
◻︎ Kidney Belt
◻︎ Knee Guards
◻︎ Knee Sleeves/Socks
Bike Spares and Consumables
Packing the right spares for race day helps you avoid an unnecessary DNF. Don’t waste practise time searching for the right spares for your bike; get them ordered with plenty of time to take to the track with you.
◻︎ Air filter
◻︎ Brake disc pads and fluid
◻︎ Brake fluid, radiator fluid, clutch fluid
◻︎ Chain oil, cleaning fluid and a spare
◻︎ Duct tape and Electrical tape
◻︎ Engine oil
◻︎ Extra battery or battery charger
◻︎ Grip glue
◻︎ Oil and fuel
◻︎ Oil filter
◻︎ Spare brake and clutch levers
◻︎ Transmission and engine fluid
Tools to Take
You can’t be over prepared on race day. Every rider knows their bike best, and you may need specific tools in addition to this basic list. Check out our ideas on bum bag basics if you’re building up your own kit.
◻︎ Leatherman or similar multi-function tool
◻︎ Needle nose pliers
◻︎ Phillips head screwdriver
◻︎ Tool Bag including bolt kit and socket set
◻︎ Triangle stand
◻︎ Tyre and bib mousse essentials – our PRO Tyre Lever Set and a 3-Minute Mousse Changer
◻︎ Wrenches of different size and type – allen wrenches, axle wrench, T wrench, spark plug wrench
The race distance, the terrain and your level of experience may mean that your list looks a little different from ours. If you’re entering a hard enduro race for example, you will need additional safety gear and supplies to last the day and survive the tougher terrain. In addition to packing the essentials for your bike, plan to pack for your own comfort, with spare gear and enough simple high-energy food and drinks to sustain you.
Whatever racing you have coming up, avoid disappointment on the day through proper preparation in advance. Remember, most accidents and problems on race day are not caused by rider behaviour, but through mechanical failures and a lack of proper maintenance checks. Don’t take any chances with your own safety or that of your fellow riders.
What else should make our list? Are there tools or spares you wouldn’t do without on race day?