With winter thaw comes the urge to get out the bicycle and go for a ride. Cycling has to be one of the more enjoyable forms of exercise as the rider gets rewarded for pumping those pedals. The reward of course is seeing all sorts of new things and avoid sitting in one place as one would experience with a stationary bike. Before the first calorie aboard the bike can be burned, it is important to consider performing a general tune up of the bicycle before hitting the road.
The first step to bike maintenance might involve a good cleaning. Even if the bicycle received a good cleaning in the prior fall season, there are several months during the winter or holidays were dust gets all over your bike. Take time to gather a few old rags and some simple green solvent and clean away. Use a small brush and attack the rims, spokes, forks and work your way through the tubing of the frame. You would be surprised how many little hard to reach areas exist on your bike so use preferably a very small brush. The cleaning process may take quite a bit of time if you put your bike away the prior season in muddy shape. Consider this extra long cleaning process your penalty for last year’s laziness.
You will definitely want to inspect the chain looking for any potential loose links. If the chain appears worn this will be a good opportunity to replace the chain with a brand new replacement. You don’t want to start a new bike season with a chain only as strong as its weakest link.
If the chain appears okay as far as durability, it is then time to give it a good cleaning. You will need to clean the bike chain with a chain cleaner which can be purchased at just about any bicycle shop. The chain cleaner is a small plastic gadget that allows the chain to feed through its bristles and cleaner. These small plastic cleaners are relatively inexpensive. Once the chain has received a good cleaning and dried thoroughly with old towels, you will want to oil the chain. It is recommended that one use oil specifically designated for chain lubrication. This item can also be found at the bicycle store.
Pulling the bike out of storage may reveal a few surprises when it comes to wear and tear on your bike. You will definitely want to inspect the breaks. Observe the brake shoes or pads on both tires for severe cracking or rot. If this appears to be the case, replace pads immediately. Also take this time to verify the brake pads are even on both sides of the rim. Uneven brake pads will reveal more wear on one brake pad over the other. If the discrepancy is slight, then re-adjust the pads tension with the brake cable so they are evenly applied to the rim when you squeeze the brake handle.
Tires probably endure the most wear and tear than any other part of the bicycle. You will want to make sure you tire is free of cracks in the walls, surface, and any other severe signs of damage. Make sure the tires are properly inflated as to the recommended psi written on the tire. Just like a car, you will get subpar riding performance if the bike tires are either underinflated or overinflated. If the tire seems good to go, double check the rims and observe any loose spokes. This would also be a good time to make sure the tire releases are all tightened to the frame.
Other Critical Areas
Derailleur and frame and rim maintenance probably do not fit into the easy categories when it comes to bike tune up for the beginner. Such repair and maintenance should probably be performed by the experts at the local bike shop. These types of repairs are usually much more involved and sometimes require tools not readily available in most garages. Just make sure you get an estimate of the work prior to sending you bike under the knife.