We certainly notice the National Cycle Network getting busier at this time of year and it’s great to see so many people getting that spring feeling and looking to dust off their bikes to go for a spin.
But how is your bike doing, having been in the shed over the winter? Looking a little dirty perhaps, in need of some TLC and perhaps even some maintenance or repairs? You can pick up biodegradable, environmentally friendly bike maintenance products in our shop.
We asked the super Sustrans Cymru Schools Officers for their essential rundown on bringing your bike out of hibernation.
Scrub your hub
Roger, a Schools Officer in Bridgend, says his top tip is to simply give it a wash. If you’ve not used your bike in a few months, it’s likely it will have gathered a few cobwebs so step one is to give it a good clean.
“A bucket of warm soapy water should do the trick as you want to avoid removing all the grease from parts that need it to work efficiently.
“Once washed, dry it off with a clean cloth, getting rid of as much of the water as possible.”
Maintain your mechanisms
Roger’s next tip is to make sure you lube up your bike. He says:
“Lubricating your bike mechanisms will help everything run smoothly as you pedal along but make sure you use a bike lubricant for this as nothing else will work quite as well.”
There is plenty of advice online about how to limber up your ride properly but you can always visit your local bike shop for further advice.
Tend to your tyres
Hamish Belding, Sustrans’ Schools Officer in Merthyr says:
“Having your tyres at the right pressure will dramatically improve the efficiency of your bike and will reduce your risk of picking up punctures. If your bike has not been used in a while then check the general quality of the tyre, make sure there is plenty of tread left and that there are no obvious bulges or nicks.”
Pinching your tyre with your thumb and forefinger will help assess whether it needs a top up. It should be firm but with a little give as over-inflating tyres can be just as bad for your bike as not having enough pressure.
As for Hamish’s top tip, “If you’re not sure how much air to put in, you’ll find the right pressure embossed on the side of your tyre.”
Shake, rattle and get ready to roll
No doubt you’ll be eager to get out in that spring sunshine but do take a moment to think about safety too. Your bike has many moving parts so it's a good idea to check they’re all secure before jumping on.
Roger advises checking your wheels are spinning straight:
“If you can rock the wheel from side to side then the bearings need checking by a professional bike mechanic straight away!”
Brakes at the ready
He also suggests testing your brakes to make sure they’re not too worn:
“Ineffective brakes can be seriously dangerous, especially if you’re cycling somewhere hilly.”
If you've got v brakes and your brake pads still have a little life in them it's quite straightforward to just tighten them, otherwise you may need to change the brake pads.
Check your headset
Finally, Hamish recommends checking your headset (the part that your forks and stem slot into at the front of the bike) and your crank (the part your pedals are attached to).
“Both parts should be secure and need to be checked by a mechanic if you can easily move them with your hands.”
Just a few simple steps can help make sure your ride is safe and ready for those summer days to come.
Keeping on top of regular checks throughout the year can help you avoid costly repairs.