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8 Tips for Tuning Your Bike for Spring

Although the weather may still be unsettled, these warm, sunny mid-week days have me thinking of one thing: riding my bikes!  If you're feeling the same way, now is the time to get your bike ready for the season.

Here is a quick checklist to make sure that you are ready to roll:

  1. Clean that baby.  Of course, you probably did a full cleaning before your speed racer was tucked into the garage for the winter, but if you didn't, take towels, old toothbrushes and some Simple Green and make all of the components, including the chain, shine.  Take the time to remove the seat post from the frame and dab a bit of bicycle grease on it to make sure your seat tube doesn't rust.
  2. Inspect your tires.  Do a visual inspection for cuts in the sidewalls or tread; if you see any, replace the tires.  Otherwise, inflate them to the correct PSI (listed on the sidewall).  Also, secure the wheel.  Make sure the quick release wasn't left loose at the end of the season.
  3. Check your brakes!  Squeeze the brake lever and confirm that both pads hit the rim simultaneously.  Secondly, do a visual inspection of the pads themselves; if they show excessive wear or are worn down to the indicator line, replace them.
  4. Spin those wheels.  If they wobble crookedly, you need to swing by your local shop to have them trued.
  5. Starting in your lowest gear, pedal around the block and shift through each gear.  If shifting is not smooth or easy, take your bike to the shop to have your derailleur adjusted.
  6. Change your chain. If you've been on your bike a few seasons and haven't done so, now is the time to do it.  Chain life depends on many factors, including how clean you keep it.  If you notice any skipping when shifting, it may be a sign that it's time to replace it.  Keep your chain clean and lubed up and you will extend its life significantly.
  7. Check your cables for signs of wear including cracks.
  8. Confirm that all those small items you desperately need in your seat bag are still there.  For example, if you use a CO2 inflator for flats, make sure your only cartridge isn't spent.  In my case, it means is making sure the spare $20 bill is still there for post-ride beer!

Don't feel like doing this yourself?  Need parts to do some home repair and maintenance?  Tahoe South offers many exceptional bike shops that can tune, bathe and generally ready your bike for you.

My bike shop recommendations:

  • Kent and his amazing staff at Wattabike in Meyers
    2933 Hwy 50, Meyers CA, 96150 (next to Roadrunner Gasoline)
    (530) 544-7700
  • Heck, Chris and their amazing staff at South Shore Bikes, voted the "Best Bike Shop" for the Best of Tahoe 2011
    955 Emerald Bay Rd, South Lake Tahoe CA, 96150
    (530) 544-RIDE

If you can't find that pair of gloves you swore you put away at the end of the season or just need a new pair of shorts to start your summer out right, check out the selection of apparel at Pearl Izumi.  (Full disclosure: I do work there, so I'm a bit partial to it!)

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Lauren Lindley

Lauren is one of our regular blog contributors. Read about her crazy fun adventures as a passionate photographer, athlete and traveler on her personal blog.

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