Spring time loving for your bike


Time to show your bike some love

Although some of us remain determined to bike through Winter, there are almost certainly more of us whose bike rests in hibernation covered beneath a season’s dust and cobwebs. So, if Spring’s warmer days and lighter evenings have you fired up and heading out for your first ride of the season, first spend some time getting your bike fit for the trails. Some basic bike maintenance tips will help ensure a safe, efficient ride all season.

7 Top Tips for a Spring Tune Up

Before you take your bike out for a spin, it deserves a thorough tune-up. Most checks are easy, but if you’re unsure or don’t want to get your hands dirty, there’s always the bike shop.

1 Clean your bike

A clean bike not only looks loved, it extends the life of all its components. Use a biodegradable cleaner, a towel and old toothbrush to clean the frame, chain, chain rings, cassette, derailleurs, pedals, brakes, and seat using as little water as possible. Also, remove the seat post and after cleaning it add a small amount of bicycle grease before reattaching to act as a barrier against rust.

2 Inspect your brakes

Brakes are vital to provide control over speed and manoeuvrability. Check the brake pads which wear down over time, and replace them if they show excessive wear. Squeeze the brake lever and watch the brake pads. They should hit the rim at the same time. If they don’t, you can adjust your brakes. If you think they aren’t working properly, the safest option is to let a bike shop carry out the repairs.

3 Watch your wheels

Wheels (rims) hold your tyres in place, providing stability and smoothness while riding. Clean the wheels with alcohol using a clean dry cloth. Inspect the rims for nicks, scrapes, and dents. Spin each wheel one at a time. They should move smoothly without wobbling. Damaged rims cause uneven wear to tyres and brake pads, which can shorten their lifespan. A wobbly rim is a simple fix which a repair shop will handle better.

4 Inspect the drivetrain

A bike’s drivetrain includes the pedals, chain, chainring, derailleur and rear wheel cassette. The drivetrain transfers the power from your legs to the rear wheel, providing the force that moves the bike. With help, raise the rear wheel and spin it, whilst shifting through the gears which should be smooth and easy to perform. Inspect the chain, chainrings, derailleur and cassette for wear, missing teeth, dents, scrapes etc. If shifting isn’t smooth, a repair shop can adjust the derailleur.

5 Check the tyres

Tyres fit around the wheels (rims) to protect them and permit travel over a variety of surfaces, smoothing out shock, making for a more comfortable ride. Check tyres for splits, cracks or tears, especially along the sides. Check the tread for uneven or excessive wear. If the brake pads were out of alignment, make sure they’ve not damaged the tyres. They’re fairly inexpensive, so if in doubt have them replaced.

6 Check the cables

Cables are made of tightly coiled metal wire in plastic housing. Cables connect the shifters and brakes on the handlebars to the derailleur and brake pads. Inspect the cable and surrounding rubber housing for cracks, crimps, rust, dirt and looseness. Have any damaged or worn out cables replaced, and if you ride your bike year-round, consider replacing cables annually.

7 Add lubricant

Oil lubricant coats the chain and other components of the drivetrain, helping them last longer and work more efficiently. It also reduces the accumulation of dirt and grime. Apply lubricant evenly to the chain while slowly rotating the pedals in an anti-clockwise direction. Lubricate the moving parts on the derailleur, the pivot point on the brake levers, and any exposed cable wire. Wipe off excess oil with a clean dry rag, especially on the chain. Minor rust spots can be fixed by rubbing with steel wool.

Here’s a handy anatomy of a bike just in case you’re not sure which bits are which! Happy Biking.