Before the First Spring Ride

As the days are getting longer and spring has officially arrived, we can agree that the bicycle season has also started. If you haven’t done so yet, it is time to prepare your bicycle for your first ride. In case you decide to take matters into your own hands, the checklist below might be useful for you. Please do not forget that in this case solely you are responsible for the results of your work. If you have even a sliver of doubt, you had better turn to a professional to do the check-up and maintenance.

Let’s see the components to be checked (the list is non-exhaustive):

· Cleaning: A lot of people don’t know that having a clean bicycle is not only a matter of aesthetics. For example, a tire with a dusty, dirty surface has a much worse grip than a clean one. Also, if the rim is dirty, the effectiveness of the brake is significantly worse, which results in a longer braking distance. By having dirty lighting equipment or making any of the mistakes mentioned before, you directly endanger your safety.

· Screws: First of all, make sure that the screws on the bike (handlebar, stem, saddle, etc.) are correctly tightened.

· Lubrication: Most moving and rotating parts need lubrication. For example, the components of the derailleur system should be maintained with special oils developed for this purpose.

· Cables: The tension of the cables of the brake and shifting system have to be checked. In many cases the loose cable is responsible for the bad shifting and weak braking performance.

· Tires, wheels: The appropriate pressure (manufacturers indicate at least the maximum pressure on the tire) and the condition of the tire’s side surface have to be checked. Just like in case of cars, bicycle tires which are damaged from UV radiation, cracked, deformed, or outdated have to be replaced every few years. You have to check the tension of the spokes too, as loose spokes always suggest some serious deformity, that might lead to accidents.

·  Drive train: Either having the bike stationary and using your hands or by doing a test lap, make sure that the crank arms and the pedals are not loose. If they are even slightly loose, you should turn to a professional. If you feel that the chain is getting stuck or jumps during pedaling, it might indicate that the chain has stretched or the chainring’s teeth are blunt. It is not recommended to replace these yourself.

·  Lighting: If the bicycle has built-in front and rear lights, check if they work. In case of third-party lights that were mounted on the bike later, change or charge their batteries. Do not forget that light and weather conditions might change quickly during spring time.

· Ergonomic settings: Do not forget to check the angle of the saddle, and the distance and angle of the handlebar. If you feel numbness in any of your limbs, you can be sure that some of the settings mentioned before are not correct.

All in all, we can say that checking most of these components can be done at home with a higher than average affinity for technical aspects. However, we recommend having the yearly 1-2 checkups done in a workshop by experienced professionals, who have the needed expertise and the necessary – sometimes special – toolset.