Tune Up Checklist
SPRING! Ah yes, the favourite time of year for a lot of us. The sun is melting the snow and thawing dog poop never smelled better! For those of us that store our bikes for the winter, it's time to get them ready for another fun cycling season. A quick tune up before hitting the pavement is very important.
If you want to get down and dirty with your bike though, here’s a quick bicycle tune up list:
Like personal hygiene, it's important to get that baby nice and clean. This will greatly improve the longevity of all the components of your bike. Take a towel, an old toothbrush and scrub that baby. Don’t just wash it - give it some love. Express just how much you missed it during the winter. After you’ve scrubbed all components, remove the seat tube (slowly) and glean that old grease off thoroughly. To prevent rust within the seat tube, lube the post before and slowly slide it back in. Use bike grease, not the lube in your sock drawer.
The drivetrain is everything that powers your bike to move including pedals, chain, chain ring, derailleur (Unless you have a fixie, this is the device that moves the chain between different gears) and rear wheel cassette (all the little teeth in the center of the rear wheel).
Inspect all those components to make sure they are in good condition. For fixie bike owners make sure your chain doesn’t have too much slack. If it does, get your local bike mechanic to put proper tension on it or get a chain tensioner.
Brake or derailleur (gear changing thingy) housing need to be changed every 2-5 years depending on the maintenance of your bike over the years. Luckily, for fixed gear or single speed bicycles, this is less of an issue since they have less or no cables to maintain. Keep an eye out for rusty cables, though.
Check the sidewall of the tires. They may have been damaged by brake pads that were not properly aligned with the braking surface on the rim.
For all the fixed gear riders that were skidding all summer last year, check for uneven wear and replace damaged tires. Making sure your tires are in good condition will prevent a flat that could happen during a particularly bad situation like having a blow out going down a hill like Lance Armstrong on a double dose of steroids.
Inspect brake pads carefully. Make sure they are wearing evenly. If they show uneven wear patterns they might need adjusting. Change them if they show excessive wear. It’s important that both brakes make contact with the rim at the same time. Squeeze the brake lever and adjust the brakes accordingly if necessary.
Clean the rim with a cloth and rubbing alcohol (not vodka or your favourite spirit). While cleaning, check for any dings on the rim. Then spin the wheel and check if it turns straight. If it wobbles like it’s drunk from the rubbing alcohol then it might need truing (tuning the spokes). A professional bicycle mechanic should do this.
A properly lubed up bike makes riding much smoother Slowly apply lubricant to the chain, pedals, brake levers and any exposed cable wire. Wipe off any excess with a dry cloth and boom - you're ready to race your neighbour’s kid that was riding laps around you last summer!