By Daniel Paul
Team Lead, Guest Experience
The May long weekend is supposed to usher in the official start of nice weather in Calgary. Except for the majority of May long weekends where there is snow.
Nonetheless, it’s an exciting time to get out on the city pathways or neighbourhoods
When you take your bike out of winter storage from the shed or the garage, there are some key tips before starting your rides. If you are uncomfortable with any of the suggestions below consider taking it to a professional.
Clean any gunk off the chain, chainrings and cassette. Use a wet rag/cloth to wipe down the frame, cables, and braking surface around the rims (if you have rim brakes). While doing this, it’s also a good idea to check the overall condition of the bike.
Correct tire pressure is essential to a smooth, safe ride and will prevent damage to the rims. Check the maximum and minimum PSI range located on tire sidewall. Most likely your tires have deflated a little bit from storing them over the winter, so inflate them to the appropriate PSI (depending on personal preference). Make sure to also check the condition of the tires as well. Including cracking on the sidewalls and punctures.
Check that your chain is in good condition and not too worn out or stretched. Then lube the chain while rotating your pedals backwards, preferably with a drip bottle (not an aerosol/spray bottle). When spraying the chain with an aerosol/spray bottle the overspray can get into the rotor and brake pads which can ruin your brakes. Make sure you wipe off excess lube with a cloth/rag. Excess lube can result in dirt and debris getting stuck and jamming up your chain when on the trails.
Make sure your wheels are properly secured tightly to the forks. Spin the wheels and check for any wobbles/hops (side to side or up and down movement). Check spoke tension by going around the wheel and squeezing the spokes in pairs, use a spoke key to tighten any that feel loose (when you tighten a spoke it will pull the rim to the side of the hub that the spoke is attached). To get the best results, use a truing stand.
Make sure both the front and rear brakes are engaging properly and aren’t rubbing when you spin the wheels. If the brake lever can be pressed all the way to touch the handlebars then the brakes need tightening. For minor adjustments, tighten the brakes at the barrel adjuster. For major adjustments tighten the brake cable at the caliper (if applicable). If a significant adjustment is needed it’s most likely a sign that the inner brake cable is stretched or frayed and will need replacing.
Shift through front and rear gears both up and down (ensuring transition is quick and smooth, and the chain isn’t skipping any gears). Pedal at a constant speed while shifting through the gears and tighten or loosen the barrel adjuster as needed to add or take away tension to the cable.
Turn your stem to make sure it moves freely and smoothly. Drop the front end of the bike (from around 6 inches off the ground) to see if you hear any rattle that would indicate anything in the headset is loose. If there is a lot of rattle, investigate further by engaging the brakes and pushing the bike forward and backward to see if there is any movement in the headset (tighten as needed).
If you are unsure about anything it’s always a good idea to take your bike into the shop and get a qualified/experienced bike technician to have a look at it. Most shops include the following services: complete bike tune-ups (inspection and tune of the frame and forks, wheels, brakes, drive train, lubrication, and cleaning), specific repairs to hubs, headsets and bottom bracket repacks, wheel truing and brake bleeding. Bike tunes should take place every 200-300 bike riding hours. Getting your bike serviced will prevent breakdowns, extend the overall life of the parts, and make your ride safer.