Are you ready to get your spring biking game on? Here are our top 5 tips to make sure your bike – and yourself – are ready to roll this spring.
1. Get your bike ready to ride
First things first, check your bike to make sure it's ready for all your spring biking adventures.
We recommend taking your bike into a local bike shop for a tune-up (and sooner rather than later, as bike shops get slammed as soon as the weather gets nice), but it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with your bike's health on your own first. Here are some things to look for:
- If you rode through winter, chances are your bike has accumulated a lot of gunk on its frame and vital organs. To get it ready for spring biking, give it a good wash with a hose so that you can see what's going on.
- Run through your gears to make sure they transition smoothly. Try treating any squeakiness or stickiness with bike chain lube. If that doesn't fix it, you may need your chain replaced, which a bike shop can help you with.
- If you haven't ridden much in the last few months, your tires have probably gone a little flat. Try pumping them up to your preferred tire pressure and then wait a day to see if they lose any air on their own. If they do, you may need a new tube. And while you're doing this, check your tires to see if the tread has been worn smooth.
- Check your brakes! Squeeze your bike levers to make sure they are engaging both your front and rear wheels. Next, have a look at your brake pads. The brake pads for rim brakes (where the rubber makes contact with the bike rim) should have grooves or some sort of texture visible. If they don't, they've been worn down and should probably be replaced. For disc brakes, you'd need to remove the wheels to get at the brake pads. If they've been worn down to about a millimeter, then they should probably be replaced.
One of the things we love about bicycles is that we can do basic maintenance on them ourselves. Make it a part of your spring biking ritual! But if you're unsure about anything, please do not hesitate to visit your local bike shop. A bicycle that isn't working properly can be dangerous to you and others.
2. Make sure your accessories are on point
A new season calls for new bike accessories! While others may flock to shops to pick out their spring fashions, we love updating our accessories for spring biking. Here are some ideas of cool bike accessories to check out:
Naturally we are going to recommend upgrading your bike bag first. A good bike bag helps you carry more on your bike, and the easier it is to carry things on your bike, the more spring bike trips you will take. Our new Bergen Pannier fits a laptop and is stylish enough to take into your office but sturdy enough to use for a grocery shopping trip on the way home.
Some other bike accessories to consider for this spring are:
- Most helmet manufacturers recommend replacing your helmet every 3-5 years as the protective foam begins to degrade, so it may be time for a new helmet even if yours looks fine. Fortunately, this spring there is a new array of stylish bike helmets for you to choose from, like these from Sawako.
- Did you know that many cities have a law that requires cyclists to have a bike bell? Spurcycle makes a bike bell with both a sound and an appearance that are positively drool-worthy.
- Bike light technology has come a long way! We're fans of the Blaze Laserlight - and not just because the company was founded by a woman industrial designer like we were! We also like that it combines LED and laser lights to provide better visibility.
3. Review Your Fave Bicycle Routes
Now that both your ride and your accessories are ready for spring biking, it's time to decide where to go! If it has been awhile since you biked in your city, chances are that there have been some bike infrastructure improvements that will make your bike commute even better than it was last year.
The best way to learn about what's going on in your city bike-lane-wise is to visit your local bike or active transportation advocacy group's website. If your town doesn't have such a group, the city's Department of Transportation is the next best spot to look, where you may be able to pick up a bike map.
Need more help choosing a route for your spring bike commutes? Get some help with our Ultimate Bicycle Route Planner!
4. Sign up for a spring bike ride
Even if bike commuting is the type of cycling you do most often, it's fun to kick-off the spring biking season by participating in a group ride. Check in with your local bike clubs and groups to see what they have planned, or participate in a nationwide program.
30 Days of Biking originated in Minneapolis a few years ago and has grown to a world-wide phenomenon! Simply take the pledge to bike every day in April to join this group joyful riders. We have found that this is a great way to get back in the habit of bicycling everyday in spring.
Another option is Cyclofemme. Each year on Mother's Day (May 14), self-led bike rides around the world unite riders to celebrate the strong communities are built around strong women, and that being on a bike brings us closer to our community, to nature, and to ourself. Find a ride near you!
Even more exciting, both of the 30 Days of Biking and Cyclofemme spring bike rides have joined up with our non-profit partner World Bicycle Relief to use their platforms to raise money to help girls in developing nations access education. #Powerofbicycles
5. Grab a friend
Lastly, celebrate the new spring biking season by inviting a friend or family member to join you on a ride! Whether it is biking to work with a colleague, biking to the park this weekend with your kids, or going on a spring bike ride at a local shop to meet new people, making new bike friends can keep you motivated to continue to bike all season long.
See you in the bike lanes!