Cycling season has arrived once again, and with it the endorphin rush that comes from a great ride. That’s not the only factor that serious riders should be considering, however. After a long winter of hibernation, those wheels are probably in need of a tune-up. Here are some tips for getting that bike back on the road.
- Lubricate the chain
Brush the links with an old toothbrush or other disposable, stiff-bristled brush. Treat the chain with a high-quality lubricant before taking that first ride, and reapply as needed.
- Check tire pressure regularly
This is especially important on bicycles with tubeless tires.
- Invest in a survival kit
A patch kit (or extra tube, if your tires have them) is a good place to start. Other tools to consider bringing along on lengthy trips: A miniature pump, a first-aid kit, and a multi-use tool with a chain breaker.
- Keep it clean
While this may sound like a no-brainer to some, it’s astonishing how many cyclists don’t bother to wash their bikes, ever. Those who ride in winter should take extra care to hose off any corrosive salt.
- Check the brakes
Keep an ear out for any grinding sounds during braking, and replace any offending parts.
- Check for play in the headset and cranks
Lock the front wheel by engaging the brake, then rock the bike back and forth. If you hear a knocking sound, and see that the headset is moving independently of the head tube, the parts have come loose and need repair. For the cranks, attempt to pull the piece away from the bike; there should be no give at all.
- Oil the saddle
If the seat is squeaking during the ride, the saddle should be removed and the rails cleaned and treated with oil.
- Check the cables
These need to be oiled and repaired regularly.
- Test the wheels
The tires should spin in place without wobbling. Check the tension in each spoke, and take the bike in for repair if one feels loose.
- Tighten the handlebars and saddle
These are the areas that get the greatest workout, so make sure that they’re not becoming loose from too much wear and tear.