Unless you’ve been sleeping beneath a rock, you’ve seen the downtown bike grid. And while an increasing number of us are cycling year-round now, thanks to this necessary infrastructure, a lot of us still keep the cycling to spring, summer and fall. So, if you’re in that camp and you’re now eager to get your hibernating steel horse back out on the urban grid, we’ve got you covered. Brahm Ollivierre, the mustachioed roving bike mechanic behind Troubadour Cycles, gave us his top five tips for spring bike rejuvenation.
First things first, Ollivierre says: Check your tires and tubes. “A bike that can’t roll isn’t much of a bike after all,” he says. “Be sure to check the side of your tires for the ideal pressure range (usually indicated in psi), and then inflate. If the tire won’t hold air, or goes soft over a 24-hour period, it’s time for new tubes. Once inflated, check the tire itself for cracks or worn out spots, which would indicate the tire needs replacing.
Ollivierre says the next check needed is your wheels. Lift up your bike and give each wheel a spin. “Check to see if the rim seems to wobble side to side or dip away from the brake pads at all,” he says. “If so, give each spoke a wiggle by hand to see if there are loose or broken spokes.” If there are loose spokes, take the wheel to a trained bike mechanic, immediately, Ollivierre says. “Wheels that are out of true only get worse and more expensive to fix if ridden on, so it’s best to repair them early.”
“Just as your bike needs to roll, it also needs to stop,” Ollivierre says. What to do? “Check to make sure your brake pads are tight and hitting the rim or disc rotor properly, not rubbing on the tire or dropping below the side of the rim.” Next, test ride the bike to see if it stops quickly. “If your bike won’t stop satisfactorily, the brakes need adjusting, and possibly brake-pad or cable replacement.”
Take a test ride and shift your gears, Ollivierre says. “If there is any hesitation in shifting, loud clicking or grinding noises, a slipping feeling in the pedals, or sagging in your chain, have a bike mechanic take a look at your bike.” If you’d like it to be Ollivierre, he’s at troubadourcycles.com
Next, it’s time to clean your velo, Ollivierre says. Grab a rag, a bucket of water with diluted cleaner (he recommends Simple Green) and wash away.“It is probably best to stay away from the temptation of a pressure washer for this job, which can push water into places it shouldn’t be,” Ollivierre says. “While you’re cleaning the bike, keep an eye out for loose bolts or components, as well as any damage to the bike.” Finish the cleaning with one drop of chain lube on each link of your chain, he says.