Spring Bike Tune Up
Doing a spring bicycle tune up is an easy way to be pro-active and ensure your bicycle is ready to for the biking season. Giving the bike a good cleaning is a great starting point.
Now that your bike is clean you can inspect the following areas:
Cables. During the cleaning if you notice any loose fasteners or worn/frayed cables or housings make a note and attend to them when the cleaning is done. Loose fasteners can simply be secured, but pay special attention to carbon fiber components as over-tightening can damage them. Torque specifications need to be complied with. To check the head set apply the front wheel brakes and try to move the bike back and forth while holding the top of area of the headset (the area where the steering tube and frame meet). If you can feel it jiggle around, it is loose and probably needs adjustment. If you lift the front wheel off the ground while holding the frame, the front end should turn easily if you tip the bike side to side. If it doesn’t, it is likely too tight and needs adjustment. Either is a simple fix and can be done at home. Check You-Tube for your type of headset, or your LBS (local bike shop) can probably do it while you wait.
Chain. Check the chain for wear, sometime referred to as chain stretch. The easiest and most accurate is to use a wear gage. Using a ruler to measure is another. The links should be one inch from center to center. Measure 12 links with the chain pulled straight and tight, and if the measure is greater than 12-1/16 inches get thee to the LBS. Replacement is in order. An excessively worn chain can cause the chain wheel and cassette to wear out prematurely. If the chain is not indicated as needing attention, lubricate, wipe off excess and proceed to the next step.
Tires. Look at the center of the tire for wear. Some brands have wear indicators, little divots or notches molded into the rubber. If yours do and they have disappeared, time for replacement. If the edges appear squared rather than round they are nearly finished so watch closely. If any threads are visible replace ASAP. Small cuts are normal but check closely for any imbedded material and remove as the debris could work its way into the tire and puncture the tube while riding. If the side walls look dry or have small cracks you may be able to get more easy miles but watch for any bulges or further deterioration and replace if it occurs. Check the rims for scoring, gouges or deep scratches that may indicate material imbedded in the brake pad. If found, dig out the offending debris. With the bike off the ground spin the wheels while looking at the distance between the rim and brake pads. If it varies noticeably it should be trued. With the handle bars secured, try to turn the front wheel side to side. If it jiggles the bearings might need adjustment. Check the rear wheel as well. Truing as well as bearing adjustments are best left to LBS. Open and close the quick release hubs and tighten correctly.
Cables. If the cables and or housings are showing deterioration, wear or fraying, or it has been necessary to repeatedly adjust the derailleurs or brakes the cables may need replacing. The cables can fray inside the brake hoods but cannot be noticed but will cause the cable to lengthen thus requiring adjustment. Have the LBS check if this has happened. Some sources suggest yearly cable and housing replacement but I have found that mine last much longer. Apply the brakes and check the separation between the levers and handle bars. There should be at least1⁄4 inch.
Pedals. The pedals should not jiggle on the crank arm. If they do, tighten by turning both sides forward. Grab the crank arms and try to push toward and pull away from the bike. There should be no movement. If there is movement the bearings may need adjustment or replacement. Again best left to the professionals at your LBS. If using clip-in pedals check the cleats on your shoes and replace if worn down. Worn out cleats can fail under strong exertion and might cause a serious incident.
Wheels. Secure the front wheel while trying to move the handle bars. There should be no movement in any direction. Same goes for the seat. Tighten if necessary.
Other items to check. Recharge or replace batteries in lights, computers, heart rate monitors, power meters, etc. Check tire air