How to Get Your Bike Ready for Your Spring Commute

Itís National Bike Month!†Time to grab you bike from the back of your garage and hit the road. Riding a bike to work is a great way to get in your exercise while reducing your carbon footprint. And you can ensure youíre working with the sun to produce plenty of vitamin D.

You can easily†commute to work by bike if you live within a few miles of your job. But youíve got to have your bike in good, working condition first.

Bike Wash

First things first, give your bike a good wash. Use a low-pressure hose to remove salt, grime, sand, or dirt that may have accumulated throughout the winter. If you didnít use your bike during the winter, then youíll probably need to wash away the layers of dust.

For a squeaky clean you can break out a simple soap with a towel and a toothbrush to get into all the hard-to-reach places.

Be sure to remove your seat if itís made of cloth, so it doesnít get soaked. Before you put it back on be sure to lube the metal tube so it adjusts smoothly all spring and summer long.

Brakes and Cables

The most important safety features of any bike are the brakes and cables. Without properly functioning brakes you could inadvertently ride into traffic or have to throw yourself off your bike in an attempt to stop. Look at your brake handles. There should be about one inch between the lever and the handlebar when the brakes are engaged.

Then†check out the brake pads. Replace pads when they are less than a quarter inch thick. If you see a ridge or uneven wear, then simply adjust your brakes so they wear evenly. Take it to a mechanic, if youíre unsure of how to do that.

Now it’s time to assess your brake cables. Look for any nicks or tears in the cable tubing. If thereís a lot of slack in the cable when you pull on your brake, then youíll need to add tension by way of the barrel adjuster where the cable enters the housing.

When adjusted properly, by yourself or a mechanic, your brakes become more responsive, making your commute safer.

Tires and Wheels

The tire itself is the rubber tubing around the wheel. Inspect the rubber for any sign of threads, belts, or inner tube. Do you see any splits, cracks, or tears? If you can see these, then itís time to replace your tires.

After youíve got great tires, youíll need to inspect the wheel, which consists of the rim, spokes, and hub. Check your rims for dents and your spokes for tightness. If your spokes are loose, you can tighten them yourself or have your bike mechanic do it for you.

Prop your bike up on one wheel, so the other wheel is in the air. Spin the tire to make sure itís mounted well. The tire should spin evenly without any wobble. If you have a wobbly rim, then itís best to get it fixed at the bike shop.

Drivetrain

Be sure to inspect the entire drivetrain. The drivetrain includes the chain, pedals, chainring, the rear wheel set, and the derailleur.

What youíll mostly want to assess is if the shifting works properly. If you notice something isnít right,†take your bike to the shop for these more advanced bike mechanics.

What could take you several hours to produce shoddy work can take an expert†less† than half the time to produce high-quality work. Donít risk your†safety on your own handiwork, if you arenít skilled in bike maintenance.

Be sure your chain is properly lubed and tightened. You can tighten the chain by pulling on the crank arm and tightening the crank bolt. You can use a chain-elongation gauge to determine whether or not you need a new chain. Again, if you feel these tasks are outside your scope, then donít hesitate to have you local bike mechanic do it for you.

Odds and Ends

Before you head out for daily rides on your bike, youíll want to cover some final bases.

Ask yourself: is your bike still a good fit? Do you need to adjust the seat? Do you have the appropriate supplies in your saddlebag for emergencies, like a popped tire or chain malfunction? Is your bike outfitted with reflectors and bells? Are you ready for inclement weather?

Make sure you helmet still fits and isnít too worn out, and if you plan to ride at night, make sure that you have front and rear lights and that you have plenty of light colored clothing or cover-wear to make yourself visible.

Final Thoughts

Preparing your bike for regular commutes can mean the difference between being stuck on the side of the road and getting to work on time. To prevent any mishaps, get your bike thoroughly prepared before heavy use.

If youíre not mechanically inclined, then simply drop it off at your local bike shop, then enjoy the flowers and sunshine on your daily commute.

Image via Thinkstock

32 comments

Bebituhap B
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Chad Anderson
Chad A4 days ago

I need to repair or replace my bike.

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Cathy B
Cathy B6 days ago

Thank you.

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Winn A
Winn Adams6 days ago

noted

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Winn A
Winn Adams6 days ago

Thanks

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Angela AWAY K
Angela AWAY K6 days ago

Thank you for sharing

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Ellie M
Ellie M7 days ago

ty

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Angela J
Angela J7 days ago

Thanks

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Chad A
Chad A7 days ago

Thank you.

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Lenore K
Lenore K7 days ago

ty

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