Photo: xavierarnau/Getty Images
Expert Tips to Get Your Bike in Shape Before You Hit the Road
BY Bert Archer | May 12th, 2022
Old banger bikes are great, but if you’ve graduated into the more respectable end of the cycling spectrum, you need to protect your investment. You could always just take your bike into the shop every spring and ask them to do what they do. But if your bike’s not already in the shop, don’t be surprised if you may have to wait awhile for the service. No matter, because there’s plenty you can do yourself; maybe even all of it if you’re handy. So here’s a short guide with everything you need to know to get yourself safely — and comfortably — back in the saddle, no matter what kind of bike you ride or how it spent the winter.
You Kept It in the Garage
A clean, dry, heated garage is the best storage option. According to Kevin Williams, assistant manager at Saskatoon’s Bike Doctor, all your bike will likely need is the dust and cobwebs cleared away, the chain re-greased and the tires given a few pumps to get them back to their recommended pressure. He says you may also want to replace your brake pads for good measure.
You Kept It in the Shed
It was likely moist in there, very cold and possibly very hot on sunny days, all of which is bad for tires. They’ll at least need some air and maybe some elastic cement for cracks, but Williams says you should expect to replace your shed bike’s tires every spring.
You’ve Ridden It All Winter
“Winter is really hard on bikes,” Williams says. “Snow conditions, all the chemicals put down on the roads, it’s brutal on drivetrains.” Rain, he says, is not much better.
That means the chain, the derailleur, the rings on the back (known as the cassette), and rings your pedals are attached to (cyclerings) and even the pedals themselves will likely either need to be replaced, or at least repaired.
And if you used it to exercise indoors on one of those stationary bike stands? That’s rough on it too. When you’re riding in your den watching Bridgerton, you’re not stopping for lights, slowing for crosswalks or coasting down hills. So if you’ve got one of those stands that lets you keep the wheels on, it’s going to be tough on both tires and wheels, and you may need to get them replaced, repaired or straightened. If you’ve left your wheels off, it’s still tough on the chain, which will probably have to be replaced.
You’ve Got a Mountain Bike
The difference here is the suspension. Both fork (the front) and rear suspension systems are air-charged, and you will probably have to pump those up.
You’ve Got a High-End Bike
According to Williams, they don’t need any more attention than your mid-range or commuter bikes. Unless you’ve got electronic shifting, in which case you’ll need to recharge the battery. And if you’ve got tubeless tires, they’ve probably gone flat and they’ll need some attention from a special tubeless pump.
You’ve Got an E-Bike
Not so much a different kettle of fish as an extra kettle of fish. Cleaning, greasing, tires and drivetrains will all need the same attention on these excellent options for mature riders, but you’ve also got the battery. According to Mike Clyde, owner of Pedego Electric Bikes in Nelson, B.C., they need to be treated just right.
“Batteries don’t like being baked,” he says, so no furnace rooms. “And if certain batteries drop below a certain charge, like 20 per cent, they may not be able to be revived.” If you haven’t been checking them every month, you may need a new one. Clyde says you also need to watch the high end of the charge, keeping it to no more than 80 per cent, or it’ll degrade the battery. According to Michel Courval of Igo Electric in Laval, Que., if you treat it right, your battery should last five to seven years, and longer if it’s a good one.