Get Your Bike Ready For Spring

Sponsored by Wheel Sport Bicycles

Did you skid your bike into the garage and close the door on its dirt-covered drivetrain and mud-caked frame at the end of last season? Or did you keep riding all winter through rain, snow, and road salt? Either way, it’s very likely in need of some TLC. Get your bike ready for spring with the bike maintenance triage list below. It will help you prioritize your spring-cleaning tasks, from “anyone can do” to “leave it to the professionals.”

Beginner Level Maintenance

First, give your bike a thorough wash to remove grime and salt—mild soap and water for the bulk of the bike, degreaser for the drivetrain (chain and gears). Wiping off grime is the single easiest thing you can do to keep your bike running smoothly (and, more importantly, looking good). It also gives you a clean canvas for inspecting the frame and components for any obvious cracks, gouges, or wear. If using a hose, make sure to put it on a low-pressure setting; high-pressure hosing will spray debris into spots it shouldn’t be.

If you’re running tubeless tires, now is a good time to top off your sealant. Sealant dries out over time as it’s exposed to air in the course of sealing holes, so a complete refill at least every six months of riding is a good rule of thumb. No need to remove the old sealant; just remove the valve core and pour in more, making sure to use the same brand every time. (Different brands have different formulations that may not play well together.) Take the opportunity to replace your no-doubt gunkified valve core too.

Photo Courtesy of Aaron Theisen

Intermediate Level Bike TLC

If your shifter and (mechanical) brake cables and housing haven’t been replaced after an autumn or winter of wet riding, they likely have sufficient grime penetration to cause slow and sticky shifting. Check your brake and shift cables for nicks and proper tension. If you find nicks or fraying, replace the cable. If they’re stretched out, replacing your cables and housing will bring back those snappy shifts. Otherwise, pop a couple drops of chain lube on your shift cables to keep them sliding smoothly through the season.

Although neither winter riding nor winter storage affects disc brakes, now’s a good time to bleed your brake lines. If you ride regularly, manufacturers generally recommend that you bleed your brakes once a year, because contaminants get sucked into the system through the pistons. And it’s probably been more than a year, hasn’t it? At the very least, lubricate sticky brake pistons with mineral oil or brake fluid, whichever your manufacturer recommends. And check your pads and rotors for excessive wear and replace as necessary.

Your chain probably bore the brunt of sloppy autumn or winter conditions. Check your chain for wear with a chain-elongation gauge and replace it if indicated. As a general rule, chains should be replaced every six months, but sooner is always better; an excessively worn chain will wear the cassette and chainrings to match, necessitating a much more costly drivetrain replacement.

Another moving part that did the unheralded work of getting your bike through foul weather: suspension seals. These unobtrusive bits kept the grit and grime out of your expensive suspension. Give them a happy retirement.

Photo Courtesy of Aaron Theisen

Leave It to the Expert

Shock manufacturers’ recommendations vary, but if it’s been more than 50-100 hours of riding time or a year since your last service (or you don’t remember—no judgment here), it’s time for some expert TLC. Regular service will extend the life of your suspension and will make a noticeable difference in the quality of your ride.

Now’s a good time for a shop to check and service frame pivots and other high-load bearings, which have likely developed squeaks and creaks over the preceding year. Like shock service, this wear is not directly related to winter riding. But if you put it on the calendar for early in the year every year, you can get a jump on the spring shop service crush. And the sooner your bike is given a clean bill of health, the sooner you can enjoy it.

Schedule a service appointment at your local Wheel Sport location in north Spokane, on the South Hill, or in Spokane Valley now and be ready to ride when the trails dry out. Call 509-326-3977 to make an appointment for your ride today.

This post is sponsored by Wheel Sport Bicycles.

Find more biking stories in the OTO archives.

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