Is Your Bicycle Ready For Spring?
Whether your bike has been languishing in your basement or you’ve taken a few spins so neither of you gets too lonely, adopting the habit of prepping your bicycle for spring makes you one wise cyclist. Think of this as spring training for your bike and your opportunity to solve problems before the season begins.
1. Clean the bike thoroughly
Whether you confront winter salt, sand, grime, or creepy things languishing in the basement, clean off this gunk using hot water and soap. Speed the job up if you have access to a low-pressure hose. Are you a perfectionist? This Gear Junkie tutorial is right up your alley.
2. Check your bike’s tires and pressure
Why bother about air since your bike has been stuck in the basement? When left alone, bikes “get bored” and have nothing to do but lose air pressure. To bring tires up to speed, an air pump with a wide base is your ticket to re-inflation to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure level. If you’ve put off replacing worn tires, now is the time, especially if yours look beat up or the center tread is flat, dude.
3. Check the spokes, too
Making sure that the spokes on your wheels are true should be a regular action, and since you’re giving your ride a complete once-over, don’t skip this task. Use a spoke wrench to secure loose spokes at the base, but don’t over-tighten them in your zeal to make sure they’re good to go for the upcoming riding season.
4. Give your brakes some love
Examine shift cables for nicks, check tension, and consider replacing the cable if it is stretched out so far all tension has disappeared. A few drops of chain lube will remind your brakes that you value them and take a critical look at the brake pads. If they’re thin, they need replacing. And don’t forget the brake levers. Pull on them to make sure they engage. If they stick, your brake cable could be at the end of its life.
5. Adjust the derailleurs and shifters
Got a bike stand? If not, prop your bike upside down long enough to spin the pedals while you put the gears through their paces. As components perform their duties, observe whether or not the gears hit shift points smoothly. This is the time to make slight adjustments to both front and rear derailleurs, so the chain maintains an optimal position at the center of each gear. You’ll need a Phillips-head screwdriver to do the job yourself.
6. Degrease the chain
Take a tip from the pros: Snap photos of your chain before it’s removed and use the pix as guides so the chain goes back on and is seated properly. The degreasing process isn’t complicated. Fill a spray bottle with the preferred solution, allow it to soak in long enough to penetrate the grime (up to 20 minutes), and use a rag and hot water to finish up.
7. Go on a lubrication spree
Experts suggest applying a dry lubricant to rear gears, chainring, and everything that moves within the bike’s crankset. Don’t be stingy. Address front and rear wheel bearings and bottom bracket bearings. If you prefer liquid lubricants, fill a squeeze bottle with the solution and gently spray a thin stream onto the chain while spinning the pedals to hit all surfaces. Don’t use WD-40 or standard 3-in-1 oils; you’ll attract dirt as soon as you get your bike on the road.
8. Check your safety gear
While your bike languished over winter, so did the gear you rely upon to stay safe. Helmets can get stinky if you don’t sanitize interiors, and batteries can die. Dare we mention nasty handlebar tape that hasn’t been replaced since the Berlin Wall came down? Lights and/or reflectors may need replacing, especially if you live in a state where riders must have active lights for night riding.
9. Don’t forget your seat
You may have to make bike seat adjustments come spring for several reasons. Perhaps your derriere has gotten smaller or bigger during COVID sequestration. Maybe the saddle is threadbare or fraying because you’ve delayed replacing it too long. You’re inviting the world’s most uncomfortable ride by ignoring worn-out covers and exposed springs, but if you like inflicting pain on yourself, have at it.
10. Got a child carrier? It needs TLC, too
If you don’t have little ones, stop reading now and consider the aforementioned 9 tips to be your full tutorial. If you have a bike-mounted child carrier, check it for broken or cracked parts and ensure it is firmly attached to your frame or dedicated rack. While at it, inspect the carrier’s seat belt and safety bars for rips or frays. If your little one has outgrown her carrier but is in good shape, donate yours to a worthy charity before investing in a larger one.