Ah, summertime, when daylight hours have fully returned—and, more important, so does the warmer weather—signaling the peak of another glorious cycling season. And that means that by now, many of us have already dusted off our bikes and started to hit the road.
But before you start hammering in earnest, it is a good idea to give your bike a tip-to-tail once over. Whether you spent the colder months splashing through ice and mud, sweating away on a trainer, or not riding at all, your bike could almost certainly benefit from some TLC. Follow this step-by-step guide and you’ll be rolling smoothly.
Using a mild detergent and warm water, give your bike a bath. This will brighten its appearance and extend the overall lifespan of the frame and components by removing sweat and corrosive road spray. Once washing is done, lather some degreaser on the drivetrain
to remove any remaining grit and grime. Then re-lubricate critical moving parts, especially the chain.
Winter riding is tough on tires, especially if you use a bike trainer. Roller wheels can wear away the center of a tire quicker than normal use. If your tire looks worn or flattened on the center tread, mount up a new pair.
If your bike is equipped with a mechanical shifting
drivetrain and/or cable actuated brakes (rim or disc), you’ll want to examine your cables and housing. Just as with your drivetrain, corrosive sweat from trainer rides or grime from slushy winter roads can cause them to gunk up and not work properly. That is why spring is a great time to replace your cables and housing. When installing new cable, coat it with a tiny bit of chain lube. This will further improve your bike’s shifting and braking performance.
If you are not comfortable working on your bike, head down to your favorite local bike shop and get your ride tuned up. Just remember that springtime is often the busiest time of year for these stores, though, so it’s best to call ahead, make a reservation and expect the process to take a few days.
Whether your first rides of the year will be casual spins around the block or all-day epics into the high mountains, you need to carry the basic gear required to fix a flat tire
. That means your jersey pocket or saddlebag must contain a spare tube, a pair of tire levers, a small hand pump or CO2 inflator, and a multitool. If you’re not sure what’s in there right now (or if it’s still in working order), unload the bag and run through everything. Ideally, you should do this before heading out on that first big ride of the year—and repeat this checkup every month or so during the season.
If you swapped on new components during the offseason, such as a saddle, stem, pedals, or shoes, consider getting a professional bike fit. Even tiny changes can alter your on-bike efficiency and comfort.