Spring is in the air!

Whether you ride your bike all winter or you need to wake it from hibernation, spring is the perfect time to revitalize your ride.

Susan from Oak Bay Bikes sat down with us to share some basic tips on making sure your bike is road ready.  Here’s her spring checklist.

For those who are dusting off their bikes after a long break, a tune-up from a professional is highly recommended.  At the very least, you need to check:

  • Your tires: Be sure to check for holes, cracks, or punctures.  Weather and time can take their toll on your tires and you can’t go far without them!
  • Your brakes: Try your brake levers.  Do they feel stiff/sticky? Can you make your bike stand on its front wheel by holding down the brakes and leaning forward?
  • Your gears: While pedaling, try shifting gears.  Are they transitioning smoothly?  Is it a clunky noisy mess?
  • Your chain: You’ll need to clean it and lube it. This is a basic bike maintenance skill that every cyclist should know.  Follow the easy DIY steps below.
  1. Carefully dap a drop of chain lubricant on each link while slowly pedaling with your hand.
  2. Don’t squirt the lubricant all over the chain – less is more
  3.  Once you’re done, run the chain through a clean soft rag a few times until it runs clean  **The chain should look shiny, not oily **
  • Last but not least, try a lap around the neighbourhood – to work out any kinks – before you set out on a long haul.

For those who have been riding all winter, spring is the time to shed that winter coat and give your bike the spring makeover it deserves.

  • Clean and lube your chain. This is really a regular bike maintenance essential. If you’re riding all winter, you should be cleaning your chain regularly; winter road gunk does a number on your drivetrain!
  • Check your chain: all that winter gunk can wear down your chain and other components.  Keeping track of your chain’s wear is SO important because a worn chain leads to lost efficiency and poor shifting, and can cost you big bucks by wearing out your chain rings and casette! *Hence the importance of the regular chain maintenance 🙂
  • Check your tire pressure. Sometimes we ride on lower tire pressure in the winter to increase our footprint and traction.  Check your pressure to make sure you’re riding in the appropriate range.   **you can find your tube size and recommended pressure on your tire’s sidewall**
  • Shine it up! Giving your bike a wash will extend the life of your components, keep your clothes cleaner, and make your bike look shiny and new again. Avoid pressure washing your bike from the side – which can force dirt into your bearings.

Some tune-up essentials aren’t so DIY-able.  That’s why a professional tune up is also essential to keeping your bike in top shape. 

After a certain amount of use, you’ll need to adjust or replace some of your bike’s components.

  • Replacing your cables and housings is a fairly regular tune-up job that you’ll want done by a professional bike mechanic.  Over time (especially over winter), dirt and water make their way into the housing around your cables preventing the cables from sliding freely.  Your cables also stretch over time.  New cables and housings will have you shifting like a hot knife through butter.
  • Derailleurs and gears need to be adjusted after a certain amount of use.  Leave the fine-tuning to your local bike expert who will get your bike shifting like a dream.
  • Great bike components are an investment that you’ll want to protect.  Cleaning the bearings in your hub and bottom bracket is a great way to make them last longer.  This is another job that should be left to the pros.

Even if you think your bike is running smoothly, it’s a great idea to have an expert take a look at your bike’s overall condition to make sure it’s safe.  A basic safety inspection will ensure that components are tight, that your brake pads have enough life left in them, and give you piece of mind!

If you’re interested in become more familiar with you bike and basic repairs, Oak Bay Bicycles offers Repair Clinics including ‘How to Repair a Flat’ or ‘Shifting & Drivetrain Maintenance’ on Tuesday nights at their Oak Bay Ave location. They also hold Special Clinics on ‘Emergency Repairs’ and other topics. For more details, visit their site here: http://oakbaybikes.com/community/repair-clinics/


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