Spring is a great time of year for cyclists. Not only is the weather warming up at long last, but it is time to break our bikes out of storage and head back out on the road or trail for some serious riding. Before you do, be sure to give your two-wheeled mode of transportation a good tune-up in preparation for the season ahead. Here are some things you should be doing to get your bike ready for spring.
Clean It Thoroughly
If your bike has been sitting around in the basement or garage for the winter, chances are it has accumulated a layer of dust and dirt. Before you set off on a ride, be sure to give it a thorough cleaning. Take a damp cloth and an old toothbrush and wipe down the entire bike, including the frame, brakes, derailleurs, and rims. Use a degreaser on the chainrings and cassette to make sure dirt and grime haven’t built up in those important parts.
Inspect It From End to End
Next, give the entire bike a good going-over to make sure that there are no obvious problems. Check the brake pads to ensure they are not showing too much wear—or, in the case of disc brakes, that the calipers are properly aligned. Take a look at the derailleurs to see if they are shifting properly and that the chain is moving freely through the different gears. Then take a wrench and go through the entire bike, tightening anything that might have come loose while you were riding last year. This will help the bike to feel like new again and could prevent mechanical failures that might lead to an accident.
Check the Tires
Give your tires a thorough inspection before you inflate them. Check to see if the tread is still healthy and keep your eyes peeled for any cuts in the rubber, particularly along the sidewalls. If you find anything amiss, replace the tires before riding. But if all looks well, inflate them to their proper PSI level and make sure they are holding air. The last thing you want is to have a flat on your first ride of the season.
Spin the Wheels
The tires aren’t the only thing you’ll want to inspect. Give the wheels on your bike a good spin to make sure they stay straight and stable while moving. If you find that they are wobbly in any way, you’ll probably want to have your local bike shop take a look at them. Most out-of-balance wheels can be fixed by adjusting the spokes, but leave it up to the professionals to get the job done right.
Lube Up the Chain
If you’re getting ready for your first ride of the year, chances are your chain is in serious need of some lubrication. Apply bike lube evenly to the chain while you slowly rotate the pedals in a counterclockwise fashion. This will keep your bike’s drivetrain operating smoothly and should make pedaling and shifting easier. It also helps to keep dirt and grime from clogging up these important parts.
Examine the Cables
Every bike has its fair share of cables, typically running from the brakes to the front and rear brake pads and between the gear shifters and the derailleurs. Over time, those cables can come loose, begin to fray, or even break altogether. This can lead to serious problems, which is why you should examine them completely before setting out on your first spring ride. Tighten any cables that may have come loose and replace those that are damaged.
Take Inventory of Your Repair Kit
If you ride with any regularity, chance are you carry a repair kit with you on the road. At the start of the spring season, take a peek inside that kit to make sure all of the items you need are still there. If you find certain parts or tools are missing, be sure to replace them before you hit the road for the first time. You definitely do not want to run into any mechanical problems while riding only to discover that you don’t have the tools you need to fix the issue.