Bring Your Bike Out of Hibernation: Spring Bike Tune-Up Tips
Dusty, rusty, mushy—after a long winter of standing, hanging, or lying in the same place, chances are pretty good that your beloved bike will be at least one, if not all, of these things. While you’re more than ready to take that first ride of the season, your bike is going to need a few minutes of care first. Here are the components that Eastern Mountain Sports bike techs recommend you inspect before you mount up.
If there were leaves on the trees the last time you rode, your tires are almost certain to be underinflated. Confirm our suspicions with a pressure gauge, and then inflate to the specifications on your tire's sidewall. Check the sidewalls for dryness, cracking, or abrasions. If you own a mountain bike, check the tire tread for adequate depth. If you own a road bike, check the tire tread and inspect for cracking. Cracks in a road bike's tread attract shards of glass from broken bottles like magnets, and that can lead to a puncture.
Make sure each wheel is true by lifting up your bike and slowly spinning the wheel. Look for wobbling, and listen for brake pad rubbing. Check the bearings in the hub by slowly rotating the front wheel. A true wheel will come to rest with the heaviest point at the bottom. The rear wheel of your bike should rotate back against the free-hub ratchet with no side play. Be sure to check each wheel for rim damage.
Inspect for excessive dirt, rust, kinking, and too much/too little tension. Depending on what you find, you'll need to either perform a simple cleaning and lube or remove the chain entirely so you can immerse it in solvent. Did you experience any performance issues like chain-suck last season? If so, your chain has stretched and may need to be replaced along with a couple of rings and the cassette.
Check the throw to determine if the limit screws need adjustment, and make sure that there's free cable movement in the housings. Inspect the housing for cracking or kinks, and make sure that the shifters are working freely and that the derailleur hanger is in alignment.
Inspect the pads, and make sure there's an adequate amount of rubber. Mount your bike and test the performance of your brakes. If they're not responsive, adjust the tension of the brake cable. Check the torque on the fixing bolts, and lube the pivots where needed. Adjust the disc pads, or replace and bleed the brakes if necessary. Check the brake lever action and replace any frayed cables or kinked housing.
Remove both wheels. Then clean the frame and inspect for chipped paint, cracked welds, and excessive corrosion.
When in Doubt, Take Your Bike to a Pro Remember, cycling is dangerous. There are a lot of variables you have no control over( traffic, weather, trail/road conditions) the only thing you CAN control is the condition of your equipment. There are 30 full-service Eastern Mountain Sports bike shops in 11 states ready to help you with all your bike maintenance and repair needs. Keep your bike rolling right, and enjoy all the miles and hours of cycling you can handle this year. Ride on!