OK, so some of you may have cycled throughout the Winter, but others commonly put their bikes away over the festive period and regain their wheels once the weather is less vicious and the nights are lighter for a little longer. If you are someone who has chosen to do the latter this Winter, then before taking your bicycle out for its first Spring ride, it is advisable that you do the following checks, to determine that your first ride of 2016 is a successful and safe one. Don’t worry, these checks aren’t difficult or too in depth, but if you don’t fancy getting your hands dirty or don’t feel you are competent enough, then take your bike to your local bicycle shop and they will tune it up for you for a minimal cost.
Pre-Spring Cycling Check List
Clean your bike – this one is pretty self-explanatory. Just as with any object, it lasts longer if it is clean and this prevents rust and brake seizures etc.
Inspect the Brake System – We don’t want any avoidable accidents! So check your brake pads, check the wear on your brakes and replaces these if necessary. If there are any uneven wear patterns you need to get your brakes adjusted. Test your brakes to check they are working – they should both hit the rim at the same time. If this does not happen, adjust the brake arm tension screw. Also, check that there is not too much slack in the brake cable – you want to be able to brake sharply, should you need to!
Watch your wheels – the key element to a smooth ride! Firstly, clean your wheels with alcohol and a clean, dry cloth so that you can identify any damage or dents to the wheels. (If there is damage to the wheel, this can also cause damage to the brake pads!) Elevate your bike and check that the wheels spin without wobbling – this can be adjusted with a spoke wrench but should probably be carried out at a bicycle repair shop unless you are particularly competent. The same applies if you feel the need for any spoke adjustment.
Inspect the Drivetrain – a name which refers to the pedals, chain, chainring, derailleur (the device that moves the chain) and the rear wheel cassette. The drivetrain is how the cyclists energy is transferred to make power and make movement. Make sure you shift through the gears – there should be a smooth, easy transaction. Inspect the rest of the drivetrain for damage – missing teeth, dents, scrapes etc. It is important to remember that small chainrings wear out a lot faster than large chainrings and that chains are the most commonly replaced part of the drivetrain, although it should usually last you around 3,000 miles.
Check your tires – fitted around the wheels (rims) to protect and improve their function. This is the most common area for problems, such as punctures or tears in the tyres which is what you need to check for. Along with checking the tread, uneven or excessive wear. Just the same as on your car.
Check the cables – cables are the communicators of the bike. Everything you ask a bike to do are transferred by the cables, in effect they are the brain of the bicycle. Check the cable and the rubber that surrounds it for cracks, crimps, rust, dirt and if it is loose. Cables should be changed every 2-5 years, depending on how frequently the bike is used. If you use your bike the whole year through, it would be the safest option to replace the cables annually.
Add lubricant – oil lubricant coats the chain and other components of the drivetrain increase longevity and efficiency of your bike. Lubricant also reduces the build-up of dirt and salt, as it is difficult for them to stick to the metal with a layer of lubrication in between, which, in turn, improves the movement of moving parts. Apply in an anticlockwise direction and work the lubricant in to the mechanism, but make sure to wear gloves.
Wheelie Good Guys and You
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