Temperatures are warming up, trails are thawing out, and everyone is just itching to get outside. You know what that means – it’s time to give your bike a thorough spring tune-up. While it’s important to check your bike every time you ride, it’s especially important to make sure your bike is in good working order at the start of the season. Parts of your bike may have become loose or deflated during winter storage and will need to be fixed either by you or a professional.
This article will highlight some tips for seasonal and continuous bike maintenance.
At the start of each season, we recommend that you take your bike to a local dealer for a complete bike tune-up. This way you can be sure that your bike will continue to perform at its best ability and last for a long time. Cables naturally stretch over time causing less than ideal braking and shifting, but your bike shop will be able to examine your bike and make sure that everything is functioning properly.
If you are confident in your abilities and prefer to tune up your bike at home, there are four key areas to remember to look at before you take your bike out for the first seasonal ride.
- Shifting Cables – be sure that all your gears are shifting correctly and that there is no rubbing. If there is, simply tighten and loosen the cable tension as needed and readjust the derailleur to eliminate any rubbing.
- Brakes – Cables connecting brake calipers to the handlebars can go slack over time. Be sure that the cables are properly tightened and that the pads are still in working order.
- Tires – Your tires will most assuredly be flat by the time spring rolls around. Make sure to inflate them to the correct pressure and check for any possible leaks that may have occurred during storage.
- Quick Releases – Be sure that the quick releases on your bike tires are at the correct tension. You do not want a quick release that is too tight or loose.
Year-Round Maintenance at Home
There are also many things you can do at home throughout the year to make sure that your bike is in tip-top shape!
1. Clean Your Bike
A clean bike really is a happy bike. When your bike is clean or dirt and other debris it shifts smoother and brakes better.
To clean your bike all you have to do is grab a bucket and fill it with soapy water. You can use bike-specific cleaning products that you can find at your bike shop or simply grab some mild dish detergent that you have at home. Then take a rag or a sponge and go over the bike completely, especially areas that might need a little more attention. When you have finished just rinse it off with the hose but be sure to avoid spraying high-pressure water directly at the hubs or the crank area or any other areas that have some moving parts to them.
Once your bike is clean, you are going to want to lube your chain. The soap and water you just used might have removed some of what you had on your chain previously.
2. Lubricate the Chain
You can find chain lube at your local bike shop. You want to use proper lubes. Be sure to stick with the ones that are made specifically for the bike. Avoid using WD-40 or any motor oils. Chain lube is oil designed specifically for your bike chain and it’s important to keep your chain lubed for a number of reasons.
First, it is going to help you better transfer your power to the road. You will be shifting smoother and because the chains are made of steel and can rust, a layer of lubrication will help prevent that rusting.
A well lubed chain is also a quiet chain, so if you want to avoid those annoying little squeaks; make sure to keep your chain lubed properly.
To lube the chain drip the lube on the inside of the chain while pedaling backwards. Make sure you get the entire chain. Take care to avoid getting any oil on your brake pads, disc rotors, or rim-braking surfaces! Let the oiled chain sit for a few minutes and then take a rag to the chain and wipe off any excess while pedaling backwards again.
Check out our full guide on how to maintain your bike chain.
3. Keep Tires Inflated to the Correct Pressure
It is also important to always have your tires inflated to the proper pressure. This makes for a much safer, comfortable, and enjoyable ride. If your tire is under-inflated, you will have increased rolling resistance, be more prone to flats and the tire can come off the rim. On the other hand, if it’s over-inflated, you will experience excessive road vibration.
Different tires have different inflation pressures. You can find yours listed on the tire’s sidewall.
You will also want to check your brakes regularly. Ideally, both the front and rear brakes will feel firm to the touch and have even tension between them. For bikes with rim brakes, make sure that the brake pads are touching the rim and not the tire.
Your brake pads will need to be replaced from time to time, so keep an eye on them for excessive wear.
There you have it! It sounds like a lot, but it’s really necessary for you to have a safe and enjoyable ride each and every time you get on the bike and remember if there’s anything you can’t handle throughout the season, you can always visit your local bike dealer. They will make sure to fix your bike and have you going again in no time!