Has your bike been tucked away for winter? Has it barely seen the light of day? Or perhaps if you're super dedicated you've been riding a 'winter' bike, leaving the 'summer' bike to sit inside in waiting for the warmer months? Well, either way spring is on its way, and it's time for those bikes to get back out there.
Like bears and humans, some bikes tend to hibernate over the winter months. Wet weather conditions, cold harsh winds and dark days are not a bike's favourite climate so we understand if yours has been reluctant to get outside.
But as we round the corner into spring, there is hope as the days are growing longer, and the temperatures are warming up. We're starting to see more two wheels hitting the roads, and with that, a lot of happy cyclo-holics.
Here's how you can get your bike ready for spring if it's been mostly indoors as of late...
When was the last time you checked yours? If your bike's been in the shed over winter, or even if you've been riding, it's important to regularly check the brakes to ensure they're functioning correctly, and responsive.
Both disc and rim brakes use brake pads to act as a clamp on the wheel to slow it down to a stop. New brake pads often have a tread or pattern on show, also known as "teeth". Once these have worn away, it's a good indication that new ones are in order.
Think yours might need a refresh? London Bike Kitchen's Jenni Gwiazdowski explains exactly what to look for in this post and we've got a video to show you how to replace rim brake pads here.
If your bike's been on lockdown over winter, it's crucial to check on the health of the tyres.
Depending on the condition of your bike's home, the cold and damp and just general wear can leave your tyres in a bit of a state over time. Check the tread on them to ensure they are still healthy - if not it's well worth replacing them as worn tyres will result in lots of pesky punctures.
If the tyres have deflated, pump them back up to the required PSI (more info here: How to pump your tyres correctly). They should stay well inflated, if you find the air escapes you'll likely need to change the inner tube. As a general rule for commuting, it's best to check your tyres on a weekly basis.
Another key component that can show signs of wear if uncared for is your chain. It's especially susceptible to damage if it's not looked after properly, or left out of use for some time.
To ensure a healthy drive train, check your chain for signs of rust and general grime. If it's looking a little shabby, take it off and give it a good clean.
Remember to lube your chain regularly to keep it clean and running smooth.
Your brake and gear cables need seeing to on a regular basis, especially after hibernation. These guys are constantly being used, so wear and tear is unavoidable.
Check the connections between the cables and the levers to make sure they are tight and secure. Run your fingers over the length of the cables to check for any wear or damage, and replace them if necessary. Replacing them is something you should aim to do at least annually, and it isn't that tricky - there's a video guide to replacing gear cables here and brake cables here.
If you're brakes feel a little slow and sluggish, it may be that you need to simply tweak the barrel adjuster to stiffen it up.
Check the gears
Run your bike through its to see if it's shifting nicely. Each individual click of the lever should result in one quick and concise gear change.
If you find your bike is skipping gears, or not shifting correctly, then you have a problem that's only going to get worse and more annoying the more you ride. There are a number of solutions for shifting problems so it's best to do a full check:
- Ensure gear cables aren't too stretched or too slack.
- Ensure the deraillieurs are sitting in the correct place - there are guides to adjusting the rear deraillieur and front derallieur here.
- Check the wear of the cassette and chain rings. If you've worn down the teeth on your cassette or chain rings, it makes it difficult for the chain to catch on which leads to the chain slipping.
- Inspect the derailleur to rule out any damage
Once you've given your two wheel companion the mechanical once over, replaced and checked over the components, it's time for the deep clean.
There are plenty of great bike wash products on the market to wipe away the cobwebs, and put a shine on the frame. Don't forget to lube up that chain!
Once you have your shiny re-invented bike, it's time to hit the road and clock up those happy miles.
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