By Jesse Roberson
Springtime is coming, the cold air will soon disappear, snow will be replaced with rain, and the green grass will reach up from the ground to meet the warm sunshine. A warm breeze will fill the air and I can almost hear the faint noise of a lawn mower running. Every year when this time comes I dart to my garage to get my bike and go for a ride.
When I get there, I find my bike dirty, and rusty. I try to go for a ride, but the tires are flat. So I dig up my pump and air the tires with plans of riding anyway. Not far from the house I find my brakes make an awful squealing sound. A sound so terrifying it brings the neighbors kids to tears. Not to mention I have to walk up the first hill I come to due to the chain falling off. After fighting the chain back on I decide to head back to the house. I am disappointed, disgusted, and bleeding. There is no way I can go wheel around until I get a tune up, so I load up the bike and run down to the bike shop to get the bike ready for the season.
There 6 areas of attention to consider when getting your bike ready for the season:
- Tubes – tubes lose air over time, a good tire pump is a must have to get those flat tires rolling again. If inflating the tires doesn’t fix the problem, get new tubes.
- Tires – Tires are made of rubber, and over winter the rubber can get hard and crack. If your tires show cracks it is time to replace them. Inspect them closely.
- Chain & gears – A bicycle’s chain and gears is the hardest thing to keep from getting dirty and rusty. But no fear, just get some Teflon based lubricant at your local bike shop and spray on the chain. Any excess lube should be wiped off with a clean rag. Some rusty chains will call for a degreaser to be used to clean the rust away before applying any lubricant.
- Cables, Cables, Cables, Cables – Check your brake and shifter cables for any corrosion or fraying. A corroded cable will not move smoothly causing your brakes or shifters to not work properly. A frayed cable can break, or cut the rider during use. Also inspect the housing around the cables for any kinks or cracks, as this will lead to corrosion inside the housing where you can not see.
- Brakes – Most brake pads are made of rubber and can get very hard after sitting for the winter, causing loud squeaks and squeals. Squeaks and squeals can also be from misalignment of the brake pads. After a season of wear, make sure to get your brakes adjusted at least every season.
- Shocks – Shocks may need attention after sitting for the cold months. If the bike is hung upside down, or vertically, your shocks will need some maintenance. Check the shock slider tubes for wear, or excessive oil. Shocks require professional service to maintain, see you local shop for repair.
When these 6 areas are all clear of damage, cleaned and adjusted, the bike will roll along quietly and easily. With your freshly tuned bicycle you can get out for a ride and enjoy the warmer weather.
Regardless if you use your bike daily, weekly, or for occasional neighborhood rides, a properly working bicycle will make your experience more enjoyable. Don’t forget to wear your helmet, and enjoy your ride wherever it may lead you.
Image from: vic.edu
Jesse Roberson works at Scheller’s Fitness and Cycling in Middletown. For more information go to www.schellers.com.