Mornings are becoming lighter, rides are becoming longer, and we've even had a peek of the sun this week! There are signs all around that spring, with all of its vibrant colors, is on its way. Now is the moment to learn how you can jumpstart your riding season with our advice.
As the days are getting longer and the weather is becoming warmer, cyclists and other recreational riders suggest that it's time to dust off their bike, bring it out of storage, and go for a long-awaited spring bike ride. Perhaps you're considering riding your electric bike to work or incorporating outdoor fitness into your regular routine.
Before you begin cycling in earnest, though, inspecting your bike from head to toe is a good idea. Whether you spent the winter splashing through ice and muck, sweating away on a trainer, or not riding, your bike could probably use some TLC. Follow this step-by-step approach to preparing your bike for riding again after the winter season, and you'll be back on the road in no time.
Clean Your Bike
Scrub away any grit and dirt by lathering some degreaser on the drivetrain. Then, using a gentle detergent and warm water, wash the rest of your ebike. Eliminating perspiration and corrosive road spray will brighten its look and improve the overall lifespan of the frame and components. After washing, re-lubricate important moving parts, particularly the chain.
Inspect Your Tires
Winter riding is very hard on tires, especially if you use a bike trainer. Roller wheels can cause a tire's core to wear away faster than typical use. Replace your tires if the middle tread seems worn or flattened. Inflate the tire to the recommended pressure specified on the sidewall.
All bike tires lose air pressure when they sit for a while, so you'll most likely need to refill air.
Invest in a high-quality air pump with a broad base for stability and large, easy-to-read gauges. Follow the tire manufacturer's suggested tire pressure level. When you have a lot of balls or bikes to fill, an electric air pump comes in handy.
Examine the Brake Levers
Pull-on your brake levers to ensure that all sides of the brake pads on each wheel are engaged. If the lever's pull is too lengthy, remove the barrel adjuster a few twists and try it again. The brakes should not stick and should completely stop the wheel from spinning. A frayed or sticky brake cable should be replaced with a new one.
Derailleurs and shifters should be adjusted.
Use a bike stand or turn your commuter bike upside down to cycle through the gears while spinning the pedals. Check that the shift points are smoothly struck and make minor modifications to the front and rear derailleurs to maintain the chain balanced on each gear. To adjust the derailleurs, use a tiny Phillips-head screwdriver and pay attention to how much the derailleur moves for each quarter-turn.
Examine Your Chain
Check the tension of your bike chain by placing your fingertips on the top chain; it should not move more than 1/4 to 1/2-inch. If your chain is too slack, it will fall off while riding, putting you in a perilous situation. The chain might bind and ruin your gears if it is too tight. Loosen the rear wheel bolts on either side to remove slack from the chain and pull the rear wheel back. Chains might stretch with time, so replace them if necessary.
Use Dry Lube.
Dry lubricate the rear cog (gear set), chainring (front gears), chain, and all moving elements of the crankset. Lubricant should also be applied to each side's front and rear wheel bearings. Avoid using WD-40 or normal 3-in-1 oil since they can collect dirt you don't want on these moving components.
Examine the Brake Pads
When activated, the length of your brake pads should push on your rim, and they should not move or be loose. Replace worn brake pads as soon as possible, and adjust the cable if they are too far away from the rim.
Check the Spokes
Wheel spokes keep your wheels true (straight); therefore, inspect them regularly to ensure they are all tight. Tighten the spoke at the base with a spoke wrench. Don't overtighten, and make sure you're using the right wrench size. Even if you don't see anything wrong, it's good to inspect your spokes every few months.
Examine the Safety Equipment
Examine the state of your bicycle lights and reflectors and their batteries. It's time to buy some front and backlights if you don't already have them. (In certain jurisdictions, bikers are compelled by law to ride at night with active lights.) Make every effort to make oneself visible to drivers.
Replace Your Existing Cables And Housing
If your bike has a mechanical shifting drivetrain and/or cable-actuated brakes (rim or disc), you should inspect your cables and housing. Corrosive perspiration from trainer runs or filth from icy winter roads may cause them to clog up and stop working correctly, much like your drivetrain. As a result, spring is an excellent time to replace your cables and housing.
Coat fresh cable with a little amount of chain lubricant before inserting it. This will enhance your bike's shifting and braking performance even further.
Take It To The Shop
If you are not comfortable working on your bike, take it to your favorite local bike shop and get it serviced. However, keep in mind that spring is frequently the busiest season for these shops. As a result, it's better to contact ahead, make a reservation, and plan on the procedure taking a few days.
Check Your Saddlebag Again
Whether your first rides of the year are leisurely rides around the block or all-day adventures into the hills and mountains, you'll need the fundamental tools to replace a flat tire. That means you'll need a spare tube, a pair of tire levers, a small hand pump or CO2 inflator, and a multitool in your jersey pocket or saddlebag.
Unload the bag and go through everything if you're not sure what's in there right now (or if it's still in working condition). Ideally, you should do this before embarking on your first large ride of the year, and you should repeat this checkup every month or so during the season.
Get Your Bike Fitted
Consider having a professional bike fit if you added new components over the offseason, such as a saddle, stem, pedals, or shoes. Even little adjustments can have a significant impact on your on-bike efficiency and comfort.
Map out your path.
Knowing the path, you'll be on gives you something to look forward to. If you haven't ridden a bike in your city in a while, chances are there have been some infrastructure changes that will make your bike commute even better than it used to be.
The easiest approach to find out what's going on with bike lanes in your community is to go to the website of your local bike or active transportation advocacy group. If your town does not have an organization like this, the city's Department of Transportation is the next best place to check since they may have a bike map.
Make it a group ride.
Clubs and organizations will continue their weekly rides when the weather warms. Joining a training group is an excellent way to prepare for the triathlon season while also meeting new people. Plus, at the end of the trip, you may take over the entire café or bar with the group.
Don't Panic Train
Spring knee is a term for knee discomfort that begins in the early months of the year, and it gets its name from the enormous number of riders who decide to abruptly increase their mileage in March, April, and May out of anxiety that they haven't done enough to attain their desired level of fitness.
Too quickly increasing training volume or intensity can result in injury — and that injury can set you behind far longer than just being a little behind schedule. If you believe you haven't been doing enough, look at your objectives and figure out what you need to do to get there — a slow and steady development is still a possibility.
Remember everything you learned during the winter.
During the off-season, cyclists go to the gym to focus on core strength, get on the rollers or turbo to improve cadence, and spend time in the kitchen optimizing their diet. Then, come spring, we become so enthusiastic about riding our bikes that we forget about the fundamentals of maintaining a strong, healthy physique.
Yes, most of us will make the most progress on the bike, but that doesn't mean the other stuff isn't essential - so try to maintain the excellent habits you formed during the colder months when it was too cold to want to spend all day outside.
Is it your job to ride a bike? If not, it's crucial to remember that performing well is something you want to do, not something you have to do. Riding a bike is a joy, and putting too much pressure on oneself may reduce that pleasure - so put on your helmet, put on your glasses, hit the road, and have fun!