5 Tips for Getting Your Bike Spring Ready
One of our Texperts (Bike Service Shop experts), Andrew Conway, took some time away from the Bike Service Shop to offer his tips for getting your bike ready for the new season.
You can also use Sport Chek Messenger to chat live with one of our Bike Service Shop Technicians.
ANDREW, THANKS FOR OFFERING YOUR ADVICE TO RIDERS.
No problem. It’s nice to get to speak to our customers before they come into the stores, there’s so much they can do at home that will not only prevent major damage but also keep their bike riding better for longer.
TO GET US STARTED, WHAT DO YOU WISH EVERYONE DID WITH THEIR BIKES AT THE END OF LAST SEASON?
At the end of the season, the last time you ride, clean and dry your bike properly. Get rid of that outer layer of dirt and grime before you store it indoors (never outside).The best way to store your bike is in a dry storage area, hanging or placed away from any potential impact. If you are able to cover the bike(s) with a tarp or covering, this will speed up the spring cleaning requirements.
OK, BUT REGARDLESS OF HOW I STORED IT LAST YEAR I STILL WANT TO GET IT READY TO RIDE THIS SEASON. WHERE SHOULD I START THIS YEAR?
Clean your bike. In the shop, we use a range of products including Muc-Off cleaners and lubricants depending on the climate you’re in and the amount you’re riding. By cleaning your bike and going over all of the parts, you should notice anything that is out of alignment, frayed or in need of servicing or repair. As an example, cables need to regularly be replaced, brake pads wear, tires can develop cracks over the winter, etc. This is the early season cleaning/inspection that will get you ready for the road or trail.
Spring Maintenance Tips
AFTER THE BIKE IS CLEAN, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE OTHER THINGS RIDERS SHOULD BE CHECKING?
1) Check Your Tires and Tire Pressure
Your tires will likely have lost a significant amount of air pressure during the off-season (it’s totally natural for this to happen). Find out what the ideal tire pressure is by looking at the pressure guide on the side of the tire. While checking pressure, look for any cracks or uneven wear on the tires. Tires should be replaced regularly to avoid any uneven wear that could result in a puncture. Low tire pressure and uneven wear (and the occasional nail) are the main contributors to unwanted flats.
This is the perfect time to check your wheels as well. If there are any loose spokes or warp in the rim, it is best to get this addressed by a certified technician before the first ride. Maintaining straight and true wheels will not only create less resistance and keep you rolling more smoothly, but will also extend the life of the wheels.
2) Clean and Lubricate the Chain
The important thing here is to clean away old grease and the dust and debris stuck to your chain and the cassette using a degreaser. This removes the grit that causes premature wear of the driveline.
There are a few tools you can use to clean these components. Some people use brushes while others use something simple but effective like a clean rag with a proper degreaser. Start with a clean chain, then apply lubricant to the links, remove any excess and make sure there are no stiff or bent links.
Dry lubricants: Keep the chain lubricated well in dry and dusty climates where lots of dust from the road is kicked up onto your bike.
Wet lubricants: Do well in wet and muddy conditions and keep the chain well-lubricated for longer but does not apply as clean onto the chain.
Spring Maintenance Tips continued...
At this time, you should also run though the gears. Worn out cables, misaligned or bent derailleurs, stiff chain links can all cause sloppy or hesitant shifts. Like all vehicles, bikes require regular maintenance and adjustment to keep them working their best. Spring is the best time to get a minor tune and replace any worn out parts. Make sure the first ride of the season is fun instead of frustrating by having a technician go over all of the adjustments required to keep you bike running smoothly.
3) Do a Safety Check of the Bolts and Quick Releases
If your bike has wheels with quick releases on either the front or back, it’s possible that they have come loose while in storage. You can check if this is secured by gently pulling on the quick release to ensure it does not open easily. Ensure the closure is tight and won’t open while riding. The stem, handlebar and seat bolts should be checked and torqued as well. These components carry the weight of the rider and any loose or sloppy connection should be addressed to keep the rider safe and in control of the bike. Some materials require specific torque specs. If you are unsure of these specs, a technician can take care of this during the minor tune.
4) Do a Safety Check of the Brakes
Before you get on the bike, engage both brakes at the same time. The levers should be parallel with the handlebars when depressed. If your brakes feel squishy or soft and are not engaging smoothly, it means your brakes could use an adjustment or the pads are worn out. If the bike is shifting well and the tires are inflated and ready to go, just do a quick brake check before charging down the driveway to make sure the cables haven’t stretched or the pads have shifted or come loose. If there are issues or adjustment required, this can be taken care of with a minor tune by a certified technician.
5) Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
There’s no harm in calling one of our stores or coming in to ask for advice about a particular component or issue you’re having. The advisors in our Service Shop not only love to ride, but we have a wealth of knowledge ready to share with our customers.
It could be something as simple as your gears clicking but that issue could turn into something dangerous and costly if not serviced. There are a number of tool-less adjustments you can make on your own that we can help with as well as a range of visual inspections you can do yourself to get your bike riding smoothly. Cycling is the most fun when you are focused on the ride and not the noises your bike is making. Whether it is a tune up, a quick adjustment or advice for season, we are excited to help!
Sport Chek Service Shops
HOW DO YOU AND OUR OTHER EXPERTS KEEP YOUR SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE UP TO DATE?
We have a very robust system for maintaining skills and technical understanding across all of our stores. Each of our technicians passes a series of certifications to ensure they have more than a sufficient understanding of bike components and maintenance. We also have a tiered training program that allows our staff to grow their knowledge and skills from one level of expertise to the next, and of course we have ‘masters’ (technicians with the greatest amount of experience, skills and knowledge) that spend time at each location imparting highly technical knowledge to all our staff. And lastly, we have excellent access to vendors from around the world. If I ever have a question about how to service a particular specialty part from one of our brands like GT, I can reach out and get the information right from the source.
WHAT’S SOMETHING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT SPORT CHEK’S SERVICE SHOPS?
On top of our one year of free brake and gear adjustments for all bike purchases, we also perform a fit and tune when you first buy the bike to make sure it’s right for you and ready to ride when you get home. Our service shops are equipped with the tools and expertise to work on all types of bikes and equipment. If you have a question about your equipment new or old, give us a call or stop by and we will get you rolling.
IF YOU HAD TO SUMMARIZE YOUR ADVICE FOR RIDERS IN FIVE WORDS, WHAT WOULD THEY BE?
Clean, lubricate, ride and repeat.
THANKS FOR YOUR INSIGHT INTO SPRING BIKE MAINTENANCE, ANDREW. WHERE CAN READERS GO IF THEY HAVE ANY FURTHER QUESTIONS?
I’ll be popping in and out of our stores across Alberta this spring and also working with our new Sport Chek Messenger service to answer customer’s questions live through Sport Chek.ca. They can talk directly with one of our bike experts or other store employees to get fast answers to any questions they might have about bike maintenance or products. Message us and check it out!
IT SOUNDS LIKE A BUSY TIME OF YEAR FOR YOU.
It definitely is but I also can’t wait to get out on the trails too.
GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY RIDING THIS SEASON!