Spring Into cycling

The weather is getting better, the paths are drying out, the temperatures are rising. What better call to get your bike out of winter storage?

Yes, out of three bikes that I own only one stays idle in the winter so my maintenance regime is the same month to month. Maintaining the bicycles for all the riders in the family keeps me in practice, but that might not be your story.

Spring means that your local bike shop will be offering discounts for tuneups but at the same time requiring you to make an appointment instead of just rolling by with your bike and dropping it off for the hour or so that is needed.

Rubber gets old, brake pads wear out, cables get brittle. These are the things that will affect your ride, and sometimes in really bad ways.

A few years ago, I took my bike out for a nice ride and when I went to shifted gears there was a large “ping” and all of a sudden I was stuck in my lowest gear. Needless to say, my ride was redirected to the nearest shop where I could buy a replacement cable.

Checking your air pressure, making sure that your bike can shift into all gears, verifying that your brakes are going to stop you in an emergency, these are the basics. You can take 20 minutes and check the points that will let you roll down the road with peace of mind.

Reading the sidewall of your tires will usually tell you what the recommended pressure should be. If you have access to a pump that has a gauge on it that should be the ticket, otherwise you might need to hit the gas station where they have the gauge built into the compressor.

Visually check your brake pads to make sure there is plenty of rubber left. Then take a short ride and apply both brakes separately to see how much pressure it takes to stop the bike while riding it. The levers shouldn’t touch the grips, maybe have a finger width still to go.

If you have both a front and a rear derailleur you should exercise both to make sure shifting goes smoothly and you can reach all the gears. Remember that if you’re on the smallest front gear that should match with the largest set of gears (closest to the wheel) on the back, and while on the largest front gear you will use the smallest set of gears on the rear.

Using the smallest gears together or the largest gears will bend your chain more than you want and it will wear out quicker.

Another check you can make is to see the shape of the teeth of the gears. When the sprockets are new the teeth will have flat tops to them and as they wear they start to look like shark teeth. The sharper they look the more they’ll have a tendency to skip under pressure and affecting the chain.

If you’re a DIY type of person, you can buy replacement parts and talk to the guys in your local bike shops to fix it yourself. Though even after all my years of doing this, I still find myself taking the bike in for some repairs that I can’t quite fiddle enough into working perfectly.

Knowing what your bike might need is satisfying and will get you rolling that much quicker. Local bike shops are great resources whether you want to just hand it over for a tune-up or get specific repairs done.

The street sweepers will be hitting the road soon and more cyclists will follow. Will you be there?

And make sure that if your kids are getting back on their bikes, they still fit them. My daughter just asked me today to raise her seat after our ride this afternoon.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


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About the Author

As a youngster on two feet, a teenager on two wheels, then a young adult on four wheels, Landon has found that life is really about using all modes of transportation. Currently a cycling advocate with the Kelowna Area Cycling Coalition he tries to lower road rage on both sides.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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