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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Member Comments

  • My bike is ready to go, now all I need is for the township to clean the 6 inches of sand off our road so that it's safe to ride! No wonder people think I live on a dirt road when winter is over - they put down a LOT of sand and ours is always the last road cleaned in the spring. :-( - 4/19/2016 9:55:35 PM
    I don't feel like the brakes on my bike are loose, but I didn't realize that brake pads would need to be repaired like a car's. I am noticing that it seems as if my brakes got bent, so I'll be attempting to adjust them with the brake arm tension screw like you suggested. Thank you! www.advancetyrean - 7/17/2015 10:13:45 AM
  • This makes me want to ride a bike but I don't have one and have no place to ride one. - 5/7/2014 5:43:39 AM
  • This was excellent--thank you! - 4/18/2014 7:58:22 AM
  • JEDEN6
    I love riding my bike every day to work. I think it is definitely worth it to get the exercise, and I always feel relaxed after I get to work. It also helps me because I am trying to lose weight. I appreciate you posting these tips on how to inspect a bike.
    Jayden Eden | http://pacesetter
    rt-services.html - 4/2/2014 9:52:11 PM
  • Pretty good article. I know the only time I was ever lucky with truing a wheel was when I was volunteering at Red Cross and I had to true a wheelchair wheel as we didn't have any spares as I recall and I could spare the time. You have to watch for both wobble and run out as they both affect each other. As I recall it was tricky and time consuming.
    - 3/24/2014 9:21:04 PM
  • Good article, but when I was reading it I started to smile these steps could be used for us. We have been cooped up in the house all winter and now we need to get all the kinks out so we can enjoy our time outside. Getting new walking shoes, stretching before we walk or run, start slow and build up your stamina I could keep going. It gave me something to think about how should I maintain myself to keep going all summer. Happy biking or walking. - 3/24/2014 12:26:06 PM
    A very informative and helpful article. Thanks. - 3/24/2014 8:38:26 AM
  • I can't wait to get on my bike and ride! - 3/24/2014 7:20:25 AM
  • My preferred method of tuning up my bike is dropping it at the shop. My roadside toolkit is a cell phone and a credit card. God love those that can do it themselves. - 4/3/2013 10:07:36 AM
  • Decent basic article for those new to biking, though it does have you running to the shop a little too often, IMHO. Glad to see cleaning high on the list, too...after a winter of riding, grime and salt (if you live in a salting state) really build up, and do a number on your powdercoat!

    I would add that making sure you have a well-stocked roadside toolkit is also KEY to maintenance. Carrying a small set of road tools (hex keys, tire levers, screwdriver, chaintool, patch kit, pump, etc.) allows you to skip long walks back home and make many repairs while riding. Most LBSs will sell an all-in-one tool that covers most of the basics aside from the patch kit and pump--great investment. - 3/22/2012 2:21:05 PM
  • This was a very informative article. Most articles here are, but this is something I knew NOTHING about, but wanted to learn more. I have a mountain bike and my mom loaned me her cruiser type bike - I'm trying to figure out which type is best for me, but they both need to be checked out. Now I know how things are connected and how they work and how to tell if something isn't quite right and how to possibly fix it. Yay! - 3/22/2012 9:05:39 AM
  • Make friends with and support your local bike shop! They are a wealth of information and much more willing to help you when you need it if you are a "regular" customer. - 5/23/2011 9:05:15 AM
    The link to "Rules of the Road" is a bad link. Needs to be checked. - 5/22/2011 4:23:23 PM
  • Last year for fathers day i got a tricycle for the day, which i ride whenever possible...the basket on the rear makes it possible to carry my airtank along with a bottle of water along the ride...i made one addition to the basket from last year.I put a piece of plywood in the shape of the baskets so the airtanks doesnt rattle around and i have put some bungee straps to hold my airtank in one place so i can concentrate on my ride and not on some strange noises....and today i used the aritcle to go over and recheck all the systems for a ride in the morning....yehaw lets go riding..... - 4/27/2010 6:41:49 PM

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