It’s sunny! There are wildflowers to be seen and trails to be ridden! Just like your bike, you probably feel as if you, too, have been hidden away in storage all winter, just waiting for the first hint of spring. To ensure that your first bike rides of the year are safe ones, however, now is the time to do some basic maintenance on your bike that will have you whistling a happy tune without the accompaniment of squeaky wheels!
Start at the Bottom:
The wheels on the bike go round and round- at least you hope they will! Check your tire pressure by squeezing the wheels; there should be resistance against your hand. If it’s easy to squish, you need to add air. Keep your ears open, too: a hissing or squealing sound can indicate a leak, and then its time to patch or replace your tires.
Brakes and Chains:
Once the wheels are done, squeeze your brakes. As with the wheels, you want to feel resistance against your hand. If they push in easily, your brakes may be worn down and it’s off to the bike repair shop with you. Take the time to oil the chains with a lubricant, as well, to prevent grating and stop squeaks in their tracks.
Check your Reflection:
No, we don’t mean look in the mirror! Take your bike outside in the evening and make sure that reflector strips or lights are still in working order. There’s nothing more dangerous to a cyclist than an invisible bike, so clean or replace reflector strips as soon as they seem to fade. Want to try the DIY glow bike treatment above? Check out the "How to Make a Night Bike" post on Instructables.
If your bike has been stored in a dusty garage or shed, chances are it doesn’t quite have that new-bike gleam you remember. Take a damp rag or washcloth dipped in slightly soapy water and clean off the whole bike to rid yourself of dust and grime. Be sure to dry the bike thoroughly, especially on any moving and metal parts; a wet bike is a rusty bike.
Dress it Up:
What, you think your bike doesn’t want a new spring wardrobe? Take the time to add some features that will make your bicycle more useful, and thus, more likely to be used regularly! A built-in water bottle holder, handy basket, comfort-grip handlebars, or even a new, custom-made seat can all help make your bike more comfortable to ride and useful for more activities.