Maybe you coast into the garage on one of the last sunny days of the year to give your bike a long winter’s nap. Or maybe you keep pedaling through the rainy season, undaunted by the elements.
Either way, after either a few months of inaction or a season’s worth of cold, rain and mud, spring is a great time to get your bike in top condition.
One of the best ways to ensure a proper spring tune-up is to take your steed in to a reputable bike shop for a professional’s touch. In bike-friendly cities like Seattle and Portland, that’s not hard to do at all.
In Portland, places like Revolver, Veloce Bicycles and West End Bikes are part of a long list of neighborhood shops offering reasonable tune-ups. In the Seattle area there are plenty to choose , from Gregg’s Cycles to Alki Bike and Board and Bike Works Community Bike Shop.
For those with a little more of the do-it-yourself spirit, a spring bike tune-up is something that’s well within reach. Here’s a simple checklist to get you back on the road this spring.
Clean it up — Any good tune-up starts with a good clean. Use a dry towel to wipe off the entire bike, ending with the chain and the drivetrain. A small brush can be helpful on the chain and other tight areas. You can also wash the frame and wheels with a mix of water and dishwashing liquid, just go light so there’s no excess moisture. Be sure to dry it well when you’re done.
Brake check — Inspect your break pads to make sure they’re not worn down and that they’re wearing evenly. They’re easy to replace if you need to. In addition, adjust your brake levers with the barrel adjuster, so there’s no excess slack in the cables. While you’re at it, check all the other cables on your bike to make sure they’re in good conditionWheels turning — Check your tires for cracks, splits and other signs of wear and make sure they’re inflated properly. Give your wheels a good spin and watch for wobbling. If your rims are dented or otherwise out of whack, it may be best to have a technician adjust them with a spoke wrench or replace them altogether.
Chain up — With the rear wheel raised off the ground (with the help of a stand or a friend) shift through the gears to make sure they’re smooth. Also inspect for wear and tear on the chain and other components of the drivetrain. If you see any problems, your best bet is to take it to a shop for adjustment.
Time for lube — Once your ride’s in good shape, add lubricant to the chain, derailleur, brake levers and exposed cable wires. For most general biking, many professionals recommend using extra-dry lubrication that goes on wet but stays relatively dry.
Still need some pointers? Check out this step-by-step video tutorial on tuning up your bicycle for spring from Etsy: