How To – Get Your Bike Ready for Summer

Three definitive tools for DIY bike fixing: air pump, grease, wrench.

Three definitive tools for DIY bike fixing: air pump, grease, wrench.

If you’re pulling your bike out from its winter hibernation, it will most definitely need some sprucing up before you’re jetting off to the market or the park. And we’re not talking about adding fancy streamers to the handles (but that would be awesome). We’re talking about a thirsty chain, loose breaks and deflated tires.

Here are some easy DIY tips to keep you handy and thrifty. You’ll need three basic things: grease, wrench, air pump. Easy

1. Grease the chains

Greasing Your Bike.

Using a multi-purpose grease (or WD-40 if you have that around) from any hardware store, drop dabs on to the wheels that feed the chain as pictured above (note: wheels here refer to the plates that feed the chain, not the “tires” of the bike). Do this on the front and the back wheels. The idea is that you grease the wheels and as the chain feeds through, the chain itself will get nourished. Make sure you give the bike tires a spin so the chain has a go-around on the wheels and gets good and greased.

2. Tighten the breaks

Tightening your bike breaks.

If your bike has been sitting for a few months without love, it’s likely that your breaks need to be tightened. It’s not as hard as it may seem but each bike does have its own special way of breaking. So simply put, find the break cables and tighten them. On the bike we are demonstrating with, the end of the break cable is in the rear above the tire. Use a wrench to loosen the cable, pull the cable through and then re-tighten so the it’s taut. Voila!

3. Fill the tires, check your spokes

Fill the wheels and test the spokes.

Don’t go riding your bike with flat tires…sure it softens the bumps in the road but it damages the spokes irreparably. Any gas station or bike shop worth it’s salt will have an air pump available for your use. If you are going on long bike trips, or biking everyday, it might be worth owning your own pump. After filling, squeeze the tire and it should give a little (very little). Be careful not to over pump.

Your spokes need to be uniformly tight. Again, if your bike has been sitting for months over the winter, some are probably slack. And if they aren’t all the same amount of tightness, your wheel will become wobbly and the tire could break – this could be dangerous. By squeezing and strumming, you can tell if there are any loose or slack ones in the bunch, if there are, you should probably go get these tightened at your local bike shop. You can do this at home with a special tool but then this article wouldn’t be 3 easy steps.

And most importantly…

Make sure to always wear your helmet! You’re only a dork if you get hurt while not wearing one!