(Golden is a great place to ride a bike. We’ve got miles of trails (paved and dirt) and shops full of experts to help you with all of your biking needs. In this week’s guest post, Michelle shares a few tips for getting your bike ready for plenty of fun and safe summer rides.)
Warmer weather is here and biking can be a great way to get out, exercise, and still stay socially distanced. If your bike is dusty or it’s just been a while since your last ride, we recommend you give your bike a pre-ride check and a little love before setting out.
First of all, a clean bike is a happy bike. Bikes pick up all kinds of dirt, dust, and debris from the road and trail. Keeping your bike clean protects your investment by enhancing the life of your bike’s various parts as well as protecting its paint and ride quality. To clean your bike, you’ll want two buckets, a small bristle brush (an old toothbrush will work) and a larger soft bristle brush, a spray bottle, a degreaser designed for bikes, a clean, dry towel and some chain lube. A chain cleaning tool and a chain keeper can be really helpful and are inexpensive but they aren’t necessary.
It’s easiest if you can place your bike in a bike stand, remove the wheels and install the chain keeper but if you don’t have a bike stand, just lean your bike against a wall. Then get it soaking. First, spray the drivetrain with degreaser taking care to not spray directly into any bearings. Then spray the frame, wheels and tires with water and dish detergent. While your bike is soaking, fill 2 buckets: one with degreaser and warm water for your drivetrain and a second bucket with detergent and warm water for everything else.
Start with the dirtiest part, the drivetrain. Use the drivetrain bucket and the small, hard bristle brush to scrub the derailleur, chain and chain rings. (Here’s where that chain cleaning tool can make the job a bit easier and a lot less messy.) Next use the soft bristle brush to clean the rest of your bike from the top down. Start with your frame and fork, then work down to the tires and wheels. Once your bike is all cleaned, spray gently to rinse. Don’t use a high pressure hose. Then dry the frame with the towel.
Now you’re ready to lube your chain. The type of lube you choose depends on the conditions your ride in; wet lube for muddy conditions, dry lube for dry, dusty conditions. Add a small drop of lube on top of each roller, allow it to penetrate, then wipe of any excess. If you get lube on the outside of the chain, you’ll just pick up more dirt as you ride.
Next, check your tire pressure by attaching a bike pump. Inflate to the recommended pressure imprinted on the sidewall. Under-inflated tires will drastically increase resistance and therefore the amount of energy needed to pedal. Check your tires for any cracks, cuts or nicks in the sidewall and that there is adequate tread on both tires.
Check your brake pads for wear and spin each wheel to make sure it spins freely without rubbing on the brake pads and that your wheel isn’t bent. Test the brakes to make sure they engage and stop the wheel well before the brake lever reaches the handlebars. Both brakes should operate with the same amount of pressure, contact the rim evenly on both sides and quickly return to their off position when released.
Next, make sure things are tight. Twist your saddle from side to side to make sure your seat post clamp is tight and holding the saddle securely in place. Straddle the front wheel, grip the handlebars, and try to twist them side to side. Grab a crank arm in each hand and try to shake them for looseness. Thankfully wheels don’t just fall out of frames, but it pays to check your quick release levers for tightness and that they’re closed correctly as well.
Now, you just need to charge your lights and make sure your helmet is in good condition. Enjoy the ride!
If you have questions, check out these short tutorials or call to schedule a safety check with the experts at Big Ring.