Blue skies and beautiful weather make for ideal cycling conditions. It’s time to bring your bike out of the garage for a quick examination – assessing its overall condition to ensure a safe and comfortable ride.
Tighten and adjust your bicycle saddle before first use. Loose seats can cause accidents and uncomfortable rides. If the seat padding is worn and the springs are exposed, replace them immediately.
All bike tires eventually lose pressure if they’ve been standing all winter, so you’ll probably need to inflate them. Invest in a quality inflator with a wide base to stand on and large, easy-to-read gauges. Follow the pressure level recommended by the tire manufacturer. An electric air pump is also helpful.
The spokes keep your wheels in proper shape, so you should occasionally check to make sure they are all tight. Use a spoke wrench to tighten them at the base. Don’t overtighten and make sure you use the correct size wrench. It’s a good idea to check the spokes every few months, even if you don’t notice anything wrong.
Pull the brake levers and make sure they mesh on both sides of the brake pads on each wheel. The brakes should not jam and should completely stop the wheel from moving. A frayed or damaged cable should be replaced with a new one.
The brake pads should press against the rim when applied and should not move or be loose. Replace worn brake pads immediately and adjust the cable if it is too far from the rim.
Use a bike stand or stand your bike upside down and check it by changing derailleurs while turning the pedals at the same time. Check that they hit the shift points smoothly, and make small adjustments on the front and rear derailleurs to keep the chain centered in each gear. You’ll need a small Phillips screwdriver to adjust the derailleurs, and note how hard the derailleur shifts for each quarter turn.
Check the tension of your bike chain by pressing the top chain with your fingers. It should not move more than 6-12 millimeters. If the chain is too loose, it will fall off while riding – a very dangerous situation to avoid. On the other hand, if the chain is too tight, it may jam and damage your derailleur gears. Loosen the rear wheel nuts on each side to loosen them and eliminate the problem. Over time, the chain can stretch, so replace it if necessary.
Apply grease to the rear sprocket (set of sprockets), disc (front sprockets), chain and all moving parts of the crankset. Also add a little grease to the front and rear wheel bearings on each side. Avoid using WD-40 and standard 3-in-1 oil, as they will pick up dirt you don’t want on the moving parts.
Check the condition of your car seat and look for damaged or cracked parts. In addition to checking the condition of the seat, make sure it’s securely attached to the frame or trunk as instructed. Check the seat belt and any safety features to make sure they are in good condition and not frayed or split.
Check the condition of your bike’s batteries, lights and reflectors. If you don’t have front and rear lights, it’s time to buy them. Do everything you can to be visible to drivers to avoid an accident.
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