As we get towards the end of March, it's time to spring clean your bike and go cycling! With longer days and better weather in front of us, cycling in the great outdoors is the perfect way to enjoy it. There really is no better way to keep in shape both physically and mentally. Leaping straight onto a bike which may have just spent the last few months gathering dust in a garage or shed, is not the best idea though. Some basic maintenance before taking it out is advised. Here's how to spring clean your bike and go cycling.
Spring Clean Your Bike and Go Cycling
Perhaps the first thing to be done before you go cycling, is to give the bike a quick clean and wash down. Warm, soapy water should do the trick, and its just the thing to remove dust, dirt, cobwebs and anything else that might be stuck to it. Don't forget to clean the chain. We will be looking at this later anyway.
Does the bike look as good as new, or at least as close as its going to get? Good, let's check out the tyres. If your bicycle has been left standing for a long period of time, you can guarantee that the tyres will be flat! This is only to be expected, and does not necessarily mean you have a puncture. Pump them up, and leave them for five or ten minutes. It's a good excuse to go and make a cup of tea or coffee! If they are still inflated after that time, result. If they go flat again, its time to fix it. You can follow this link to read about how to replace a bicycle inner tube.
We haven't quite finished with the tyres and wheels. Have a look at the tyres, and see if you notice any signs of cracks in the rubber. The reason for this, is that older, cheaper tyres do perish slightly over time. If the cracking is severe, it makes sense to buy some new ones. Now take a look at the wheel in general, and run your fingers over the spokes. Broken spokes will need to be replaced, and if this is a task you feel is out of your range, take it to a bike shop. (Make it a privately owned one though rather than a chain store. Lets keep local businesses alive!) If your spokes are fine, ensure that the quick release skewers or bolts which go through the hub are tight. Finally, spin the wheels to make sure they go around unimpeded.
Next up is the chain. Chances are, that this will look a little rusty and make a bit of a grinding noise as you turn it. This is what oil is for, so use some! If you think that the chain needs replacing, then do so. Again, if its beyond you, take the bike into a local shop. Most bike shops will offer servicing.
With tyres inflated, wheels that go around, and a chain to drive it, we need to start thinking about how to stop. You've got it, lets test the brakes! Lift the front wheel off the ground with the handlebars, and spin the wheel. Apply the front brakes. If the wheel stops, the brakes work. Quite simple really! Spin the wheel again, just to make sure that the brakes are not sticking. Repeat this with the rear wheel. You may find that the brakes need adjusting. I won't go into it here, but either search about it online or buy a bike book. Whatever you do, don't go cycling with brakes that do not work properly. It's just a recipe for disaster.
There are one or two other things to do before you go cycling on your bike. Tighten any nuts that may need it. Spray some oil on nut heads and moving parts. Make sure the seat is the right height and is tightened. Ensure the handlebars are tightened. And that's pretty much it. It's really not rocket science! A basic spring clean of your bike won't take more than 20 minutes, but it is an important 20 minutes, especially if the bike has been left standing for any period of time. Keeping on top of bicycle maintenance on a regular basis will also ensure that the bike is in good enough condition to go cycling on throughout the year. Now, go outside and start pedalling!
Below, is a small selection of bicycle maintenance tools and gear which might prove to be useful for you. These are sold through Amazon, and if you decide to buy some of them before you go cycling, I will receive a small commission.