Dan’s 2016 Spring Bike Tune-Up Guide
By Daniel E DAngelo Esq on April 20, 2016
By now it’s probably apparent that bicycling is one of my passions. It is a great form of exercise and an even better way to beat the congested Denver traffic. I’m on two wheels as often as I can be, and I love Colorado because there are so many other people here who love to ride. If you’re local to Denver, you know aside from a couple heavy spring snowstorms this past winter was pretty mild. There were more opportunities to ride than usual. But by now, aside from the threat of heavy rainstorms – we should be to the point where the weather will allow for daily bike rides.
Whether you ride your bicycle year-round or you’re just starting to get back on your bicycle, regular bicycle maintenance is important. As I prepare to make cycling a regular part of my routine again, I prefer to get my bike in the best condition possible.
1. Step One – Cleaning
Regular cleaning even after every ride is important. It is a great way to identify problems before they become worse or surprise you in the middle of your ride. You should clean your bicycle from top to bottom. The frame, wheels, derailleurs, chain, rear cassette, brakes – everything.
Fortunately, bicycle cleaner is fairly inexpensive, something like a biodegradable degreaser, works perfectly. In addition to the cleaner, you’ll need a towel and brush.
The brush (a toothbrush or something similar will work just fine) will come in handy for tough spots. A bike stand is also helpful to free up your hands, raises your bicycle up to keep you from bending over, helps you clean the chain and gears, and keeps your bicycle from falling over further protecting it from unsightly dings, scratches, and other damage from falling over.
2. Step Two – Wheel & Tire Inspection
Your wheels, tires, and tubes could possibly be the most important pieces of equipment for a fun, smooth, and safe ride. Riding with misaligned wheels, underinflated tubes, or worn tires can cause serious issues and even lead to injury. Always make sure your tires are properly inflated before you ride. It is the easiest way to avoid a flat, which could cause you to spend most of your ride by the side of the road struggling to replace and inflate your bicycle tube, or worse a sudden blowout could easily cause you to crash. You should inspect your wheels and tires before every ride.
Use your bike stand, or turn the bike over and stand it on the seat and handle bars. Put down a towel to protect your seat and handlebars. You’ll want to observe the wheel spinning and ensure there is no wobble or interference with the bike frame. If there is, the spokes may just need a small adjustment or the tire may need to be reseated in the frame – or the wheel could be bent. Don’t ride if the wheel is bent or hits the frame.
Check the tire for any damage or signs of trouble spots. Make sure the tube is in good condition and properly inflated as well. Make any changes you need to address before you hit the road!
3. Step Three – Check the Brakes and Drivetrain
Whether you have traditional rim or disc brakes on your bike, you’ll want to check for wear and they are working properly. Consider replacing if there isn’t much of the pad left. While you’re at it, ensure that the wear is even on the pads. If it isn’t, you’ll need to make a centering adjustment.
Check out this guide if you’re unsure how. Allow the wheels to spin freely (by holding the bike or placing it in a stand) and apply the brakes. Ensure they bring the wheel to a stop without much difficulty. The next step is to check the drivetrain and make sure your derailleur is working properly.
Once again, you’ll want the tire to spin freely while the bike remains stationary. This time, shift through each gear watching the chain and listening for unusual noises. If there are issues with shifting, the first thing to do is adjust the cable tension (use the same link from above!). If that doesn’t work, you may need to bring the bike to your local bike shop to have properly trained mechanic check things out.
4. Step Four – Check All Cables
This part of the tune-up is essential, but is easily overlooked. Cables are crucial to your bike’s performance, so make sure you check them thoroughly before hopping on for a ride.
They need to be seated properly in the rubber housing and should be free of cracks, bends, frays, and other strains. If you notice severe issues, schedule a replacement at your shop. Unless you have experience, the task can be pretty tricky to do on your own.
5. Step Five – Lubrication and Grease!
The last thing you need to do before you ride is get your bicycle properly lubricated. In order to prolong the life and proper operation of your chain and gears they need to be cleaned and lubricated regularly. You will need a towel, toothbrush, degreaser, and lube. Apply the degreaser to your chain and hold the toothbrush on the chain while you rotate the pedals. This will help remove dirt and other debris that can lead to early wear and tear on these moving parts. Then wipe down with the chain with the towel, apply lube to the clean chain, and remove any excess lubrication.
Additionally, all the moving parts of the derailleur should be cleaned and lubricated in the same way. Much like a car, a well-cleaned and oiled bicycle performs and looks better.
Riding a bike that’s been properly maintained just feel great. You can tell everything is in tip-top shape and it makes your rides safer and more pleasant. Although riding a bicycle is something most of us have done since we were children, most of us are not properly trained to clean and maintain all its working parts. A bicycle may seem like a simple machine but it does take a highly trained mechanic to make sure it is properly tuned and in safe working order. Some of these simple tasks you can learn to do on your own but for more complicated maintenance you should take a class to learn or take your bicycle to a local shop to be worked on by a trained mechanic.
Understanding how to maintain your bicycle and keeping it in good condition makes you a safer bicycle rider that may just mean the difference between avoiding or getting into an accident. As always – D’Angelo Law is here to help if you’ve been injured by a car while riding your bicycle, so reach out. We are here to help.