Blue skies and warm weather are the perfect combo for bicycle riding. It's time to get your bike out of storage and give it a quick eye test to assess the overall condition of your bike. Obvious issues like flat tires, broken seats, and bent rims will require repair, but general maintenance should only take a few minutes.
First you'll want to give your bike a good washing by simply hosing it down to remove dirt and mud. Then you can dive deeper into the overall health of your bike and evaluate what it really needs. Use this checklist and you'll be cruising by the weekend.
Tighten and adjust your bike seat before using it for the first time. A loose seat can lead to trouble and an uncomfortable ride. If the seat cover is worn out and springs are exposed, then replace your immediately.
All bikes tires lose air pressure if they sit for awhile, so it's likely you'll need to add air. Invest in a quality with a wide base to stand on, and large gauges that are easy to read. Stick to the tire manufacturer's recommended pressure level. An is also helpful when you've got a lot of balls or bikes to fill.
Wheel spokes keep your wheels true (straight), so you should occasionally check to make sure they are all tight. Use a to tighten the spoke at the base. Don't overtighten and make sure you use the correct size wrench. The one shown above can be used on spokes of various sizes. It's a good idea to check your spokes every few months, even if you don't notice anything wrong.
Pull on your brake levers and make sure they engage both sides of the brake pads on each wheel. If the pull on the lever is too long, unscrew the barrel adjuster a few turns and test it. The brakes should not stick and should fully stop the wheel in motion. A frayed or sticky cable should be replaced with a new .
The length of your brake pads should press against your rim when activated, and they should not wiggle or be loose. Replace worn immediately and adjust the cable if they are too far from the rim.
Use a or prop your bike upside down and run it through the gears as you are spinning the pedals. Check to make sure it hits the shift points smoothly and make slight adjustments to the front and rear derailleur to keep the chain centered on each gear. You'll need a small Phillips-head screwdriver to adjust the derailleurs, and notice how much the derailleur moves for each quarter-turn.
Check your bicycle chain tension by pressing your fingers against the top chain, it should not move more than 1/4 to 1/2-inch. If your chain is to loose it will come off while riding—a dangerous situation to suddenly find yourself in. If the chain is too tight it can bind and damage your gears. Loosen the rear wheel nuts on each side to pull the rear wheel back to take slack out of the chain. Over time chains can stretch, so replace your if needed.
Apply a the rear cog (set of gears), chainring (front gears), chain, and all moving parts of the . Also hit the front and rear wheel bearings on each side with a bit of lubricant. Avoid using WD-40 and standard 3-in-1 oil as it will attract dirt which is something you don't want on these moving parts.
Check the condition of your , and look for broken or cracked parts. In addition to checking the condition of your seat, also make sure any child carrier attached to your bike is firmly affixed to the frame or rack as per it's instructions. Inspect the seat belt and any safety bars to make sure they are in working condition and not frayed or split.
Check the condition and batteries of your bicycle lights and reflectors. If you don't have , it's time to get some. (In some states, it's .) Do everything you can to make yourself visible to drivers.