Fitness Articles

7 Steps to Tune Up Your Bike for Spring

Basic Bicycle Maintenance and Safety Checks

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If shifting is not smooth, take your bike to a repair shop to adjust the derailleur. Doing this yourself can lead to more problems if you do not know what you’re doing. Again, chains are usually the first component to go in the drivetrain and should be replaced every 2,000-3,000 miles. Replacement cost is generally between $20 and $50. Waiting too long to replace a chain will wear down the other drivetrain components faster.

Tune-up task #5: Check the tires.
Tires fit around the wheels (rims) to protect them and improve their function. Tires offer a source of friction (i.e., traction) with the ground, permitting travel over a variety of surfaces, including pavement, dirt and gravel. In addition, they form a flexible cushion with the ground, which smoothes out shock, making for a more comfortable ride.

What to do: Check your tires for splits, cracks or tears, especially along the sides (where the tire does not touch the ground). You will also want to check the tread for uneven or excessive wear. If the brake pads were out of alignment (task #2 above), make sure they have not damaged the tires.

Tires are fairly inexpensive to replace, so if you are in doubt about keeping a tire, it is best to have it replaced. Damaged tires are prone to burst, causing a sudden loss of control—a potentially dangerous situation. All bike shops will repair tires, but it's a simple to change a tire on your own using tire levers and a pump to re-inflate the inner tube.

Tune-up task #6: Check the cables.
Cables are made of tightly coiled metal wire surrounded in plastic housing. Cables connect the shifters and brakes on the handlebars to the derailleur and brake pads. Cables connected to the shifters assist with moving the chain from one gear to another via the derailleur, while those connected to the brakes aid in stopping the bike when the lever on the handlebars is used.

What to do: Inspect the cable and surrounding rubber housing for cracks, crimps, rust, dirt and looseness.

New cables make shifting and braking smooth, which increases bike performance. If you notice damaged or worn out cables, get t hem replaced at your local bike shop. Unless you're well trained in this task, changing bike cables can be tricky and time consuming. Schedule replacement of cables every 2-5 years based on use. If you ride your bike year-round, consider replacing your cables yearly.
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