Tips For Spring Bike Tune-up
Tips for Spring Bike Tune-up
Here at Mills Law Firm, LLC in New Haven we are avid cyclists, who often bike to work. Its been a rough winter, and New Haven’s sometimes harrowing streets became even more difficult for cyclists. However, the snow is finally melting, and we can see the bike lane logos again! With Spring just around the corner, we offer cyclists the following tips on getting bikes that may have been in storage ready to ride safely this spring:
- Clean your bike. Use a biodegradable cleaner, such a Bio Green Clean (877- 572-6516), a towel and a toothbrush to clean everything, including the frame, chain, chain rings, derailleurs, pedals, brakes and seat. Also remove the seat post, clean it off, and add a small amount of bicycle grease before reattaching it.
- Check your wheels. After washing the wheels, inspect them for damage and spin each one to see if they are bent or otherwise in need of replacement. Check the spokes to make sure none are broken. If the rim is wobbly you may be able to adjust it with a spoke wrench. However, if you are unsure about what you are doing you should take your bike to a bike shop. A spring tune-up usually costs about $50-$60.00.
- Inspect your brake system. Check the brake pads to see if they are worn or uneven. If so, have them replaced. Squeeze the brake lever on your handlebars and watch the brake pads. They should make contact with the rim at the same time. If your brakes need to be adjusted you can adjust the brake arm tension screw, which is located on one of the brake lever arms near the tire. If there is too much slack in the brake cable when pulling on the brake handles, roll out the barrel adjuster at the end of the lever (where the cable enters the housing) to add tension to the brake cable, thereby making the brakes react more quickly.
It is absolutely essential that your bike have responsive, well-working brakes. Many cyclists are seriously injured because of inadequate brakes. If you conclude that your brakes are not working just as they should, please take your bike to your local bike shop. Bring the bike in your car or truck – don’t ride it!
- Check your reflectors and lights. Make sure to clean all your reflectors, and to check them for cracks and to be sure they are adequately fastened. Replace batteries in your lights and check to be sure they are working properly. Flashing lights are a great way to make yourself visible to motorists, and we encourage using them even during daylight hours.
- Inspect the drivetrain. A bike’s drivetrain includes the pedals, chain, chain ring, derailleur, and the rear wheel cassette. You will need a partner to help you with this part of the tune-up. Raise the rear wheel and spin it. Shift through the gears, inspecting the chain, the chainrings, the derailleur and cassette for damage. The chain is the part of the drivetrain that has to be most often replaced (usually every 2,000-3,000 miles). Remember, that when you grease the chain only use a small amount of bicycle lubricant.
- Check the cables. Check the cables and surrounding rubber housing for cracks, crimps, rust, dirt and looseness. Any loose or damaged cables should be replaced. Unless you are very well trained, this should be done at your local bike shop.
- Inspect the headset. The headset is the short tube located at the front of the bike connecting the forks and the bike frame. Your handlebars slip into this tube, which pivots to allow steering. To test if your headset is secure, apply the front brakes while gently tipping the bike forward and back (your rear tire should raise up and down). Listen for clicking, which is a sign of a loose headset. Tighten if necessary.
- Check wheel release. Most bikes contain quick release levers, which are levers located at the hub (center of the wheel) that allow for easy removal or adjustment of the wheel without using a tool. These should be securely tightened.
- Check your repair equipment. Make sure you have a repair kit with a spare tube, a patch, basic tools, and a working bike pump.
- Check your helmet. Make sure your bike helmet is clean, and properly adjusted, and has no cracks or dents. Always, always were your helmet! We have represented many cyclists who were severely injured because they did not a have helmet on. If you fall or are knocked off your bike your head can easily hit the road, a curb, or a motor vehicle. Your head is extremely vulnerable, and even a modest impact can cause a brain injury. Always wear your helmet – no exceptions!