Getting my head around the mechanics of my bike is something I’ve wanted to work on for a while now. I reckon it’s important to be able to maintain my own bike, and save some money on the way too. I’m pretty sure if I can keep my own bike running sweet it’ll mean that I can improve my own riding. Oh, and when I’m not riding, what better way to spend time than looking at, and working on, my bike, right?

Over the last few months, I’ve become pretty interested in watching YouTube videos about performance and maintenance of bikes. In fact, I’ve got so into it all I decided, with the help of my riding buddy George, to start a YouTube channel. Our aim with To The Trail (that’s the name of the channel… pretty good right?) is to document our journey around UK trails and give a little back to you guys. We’re hoping that from time to time we might even teach you guys something. After all, we both graduated with teaching degrees.

Our latest video is the first of the ‘let us teach you something’ batch. There’s still plenty that we need to work on: the sound quality isn’t what we’re after and the lighting in my garage (our mechanic ‘studio’) is horrible. We’ve done the best we can with the stuff we’ve got at the minute, and we’re constantly identifying areas of improvement. My new mic is on the way already, so that should help with the sound when it gets here.

The process of putting bottomless tokens into my forks was actually relatively easy. The  change it makes in the bike’s performance is yet to be evaluated, though I’ve heard really good things about Pikes with some tokens in. I decided to opt for two and then come back to it and alter if needed. I even had most of the tools I’d need already too.

Getting the dust cap off was a simple tool-less job and letting the air out was easy with my Brand-X allen keys. I’ve actually barely used them for their intended purpose yet, except to spin the bars slightly, and take the front wheel off. The smaller of the batch have been super useful for poking into gaps in my bike and pushing things like bits of the brake lever, or letting the air out of valves.

The next part involved taking the top off the forks. I’d bought a socket set earlier in the year and just assumed that I’d have the right bit in that. I didn’t. Turns out not even the spanner I’d bought in my other set fit, and Rockshox requires a 24mm socket or spanner to open up the forks. After shopping around a bit, I grabbed a bargain and snapped up the Silverline 395006 Fixed Head Ratchet Spanner – 24 mm. I’ve got to admit, the thing was super helpful! I’d have managed with just a spanner, but having the rachet head made quick work of removing, and later putting back in, the top of the fork.

After that, it was just a simple case of putting the bottomless tokens in. They just screw to the top and get put back in. The only thing that you need to make sure is that they’re super tight so that they don’t slip out and rattle around in your fork whilst you’re blasting around trails. My Pike came with a couple of spares, but you can grab them from Amazon for pittance if you didn’t get any: RockShox Bottomless Tokens Pike A1/Boxxer B1 (35 mm) (3 Pieces), 11.4018.032.000

Last thing was pumping back up the pressure. Of course, I couldn’t hook up the floor pump – they don’t work – so cracked out the Rockshox shock pump I’ve got. It’s something I’ve had since I bought my bike and, if you don’t have one, is an essential part of my kit. Making sure I’ve got the right pressure in is super important to make sure my bike handles right. It really does make a noticeable difference if you’re 10PSI the wrong way. I pumped back up to the same pressure I had in before, although I’ve also heard you might want to drop 10PSI for every token you add. Either way, I’ll know for sure once I’ve tested them on Tuesday. It’s easy enough to drop some pressure so I’ll make sure I take my pump with me when I ride. It doesn’t way a thing and, with its little gauge on, means I can check out what I’ve got and make a note ready for next time. RockShox High-Pressure Fork Pump Black, 300 PSI

All in all, I’m pretty happy with tokens and the likes and I’m really looking forward to going for a blast with the tokens in. All the hype around the improved performance with them in has got me excited. I really just hope they live up to the expectations.