Riding or storing a bicycle during the winter in the UK can wreak havoc with its performance and safety standards. Rust, a dirty drivetrain, worn out batteries and even dust need tackling to make sure your ride is tuned up for the summer.
With longer days and more favourable weather to enjoy, it’s time to set out on a much-awaited bike ride, or simply add some outdoor exercise to your daily routine. The physical and mental health benefits are there for the taking – and with fuel and diesel prices at an all-time high at the moment, travelling by bike is a handy way to save a few pounds on journeys to and from the shop or the office.
To get the most out of your bike, here are our top 10 maintenance tips – whether you’re heading for local trails and roads - or further afield with your bike or trike on a rack or a trailer to explore new corners of our beautiful country.
- Elbow grease – Dirt, debris and dust need wiping away from the frame, wheels and drivetrain workings of your bike as it comes out of hibernation. You should have given it a good clean before winter to avoid rotted grime building but either way, now is the time to give it a good wash to get the paintwork sparkling.
- Bust the rust – Brake cables and chains often harbour rust after storage in the winter. Affected brake cables should be replaced and all areas need to be thoroughly checked and treated.
- Lubricate – A clean chain makes for an easier, hassle-free bike ride – your legs will be thankful! Apply a degreasing solvent by brush first and then a chain lubricant across all surfaces will keep things running smoothly.
- Nuts and bolts – These all need to be tight and rust-free. A quick dab of grease will ease any slightly rusted areas.
- Don’t forget the lights - Balmy summer evenings can catch you out, and if dusk is falling, you may need your lights for the return journey. Training in the cool early mornings and after sundown are also times when you need to maximise visibility. Recharge or replace worn out batteries and check that dynamo lights are working.
- Tighten up – Squeaky disc brakes aren’t just annoying to hear, they’re in dire need of adjustment. Brake cables, calliper brakes and quick releases can all become loose over time, so be thorough in tightening these areas.
- Check tyre pressure – It seems obvious, but a quick squeeze isn’t an accurate check. Make sure each tyre is pumped up to the exact pressure recommended by the manufacturer.
- Test ride – You don’t want to be miles down the road or halfway up a hill when you realise the gears are malfunctioning. Take a short ride close to home to shift through your gears, which can slip if teeth become worn down or if there is a problem with the derailleur.
- Stock the saddlebag – Inner tube repair kits, tyre levers, inflator and a multi-tool are all essential for carrying out running repairs if you get unlucky. If you’re not as confident in using tools to keep things rolling, staying close to home and having a friend on call to help is advisable. Also, don’t forget to carry water and sunscreen.
- Trust the pros – If you’re not too handy with a spanner, your local bike shop can run checks for you. It’s usually not costly to get a quick tune up and it’ll put your mind at rest that all is working as it should. Remember, that this is a busy time for most shops, so call ahead to book your bike in before your first ride.