Whether you’re racing down roads or winding through woodland, give your bike some TLC and make sure it’s well prepared for the journey. Take some time out to ensure everything is up to scratch so you can ride in style with peace of mind, knowing your bike looks and feels the part. Check out our pre-summer checklist for getting your bike ready.
First things first, get your sponge out. Lots of dirt can build up on your bike, especially if you’re riding on muddy terrain, which can lead to rusting over time. To avoid this happening, you must clean your bike regularly.
The best to way to keep your bike sparkling is by firstly rinsing it to get any excess dirt off and then using a cleaning agent to scrub off the tough grime with a sponge and warm water. Rinse it again, then dry it with a clean rag. If you want your bike to look brand new then you may want to purchase some cleaning products, we have plenty to offer here.
If your bike has been stored away for months, then you may find your tyres have gone flat. So, check the pressure and use a bike pump to inflate them if necessary. Next, check for cracks and splits in the side walls of the tyres, as these could cause punctures or slow deflation. If you do notice any, replace the tyre immediately.
Once the tyre check is complete, you then need to make sure your wheels are in good nick. Ensure all the spokes are secure and tighten them if necessary using a spoke wrench. The spokes keep your wheels straight, so this is very important.
The drivetrain is a significant part of the bike. It’s all the bits that turn your pedal power into forwarding movement, including cranks, pedals, chain, chainrings, cogs and derailleurs. You must keep your drivetrain in tip-top condition so your bike runs smoothly. Frequent cleaning and lubrication will do it the world of good, keeping mud and trail debris from clogging up the works.
Firstly, check your chain for wear and if it needs replacing, do so. You can check this by using a chain wear indicator, which will accurately measure chain tension and identify if (and when) a link has undergone chain stretch. Ideally, you want to replace the chain before it stretches beyond 0.75% to 1.0% of the standard 12.7mm chain spacing.
Then, make your drivetrain sparkle again by giving it some attention. It’s best to use a drive chain cleaner to assure all the grease and muck is tackled. Wipe away the dirt on the whole drivetrain (the chain, derailleurs, chainrings etc) – you can use an old toothbrush to get into the cracks. Once everything is clean, rinse with water and dry with a clean cloth. Then, lubricate the drivetrain areas, particularly the chain, so your bike is running smoothly. This Wash, Protect and Lube Kit from Muc-Off is handy for completing all of these steps.
The brakes and cables are also vital points of your checklist. To assure they are working properly, spin the wheels whilst they are off the ground then pull both the front and back brakes independently – they should lock immediately.
Squeeze the brake levers again to check if the brake pads are making contact with the rim at the same time. And if they aren’t, simply adjust the brakes using the brake arm tension screw, which can be found on one of the brake lever arms near the tyre.
You should also check that your brake pads are wearing evenly. If a ridge or uneven wear pattern is apparent, the breaks may need adjusting. And if the pads are displaying excessive wear, it may be a good idea to replace them.
The brake cables also need to be checked. Over time the cables can become worn, frayed and damaged. So inspect them and, if necessary, replace them. New cables will make shifting and braking smooth.
The best way to test your gears is by taking your bike for a quick test drive. Switch through the gears and make sure they are shifting smoothly. And if they’re not, there could be a problem.
Just like brake cables, gear cables may also become worn and stretched over time. If your gears don’t seem to be shifting smoothly, then the cables may need changing. You should also check the wearing of your cassette and chainrings – if the teeth of the cassette or chainrings are worn down, it can make it tricky for the chain to catch on, leading to chain slipping. And finally, inspect your derailleurs for any damage, as this could also be the route of your gear problems.
It’s always a smart idea to check that everything has been tightened up on your bike before setting off – especially if your bike has been kept away for a long time. The nuts and bolts may have got damp and become rusty or loose. Check over your whole bike, ensuring everything is tightened up. But don’t over-do it – if the nuts are too tight, it could cause cracking in the frame!
Make sure your seat is positioned correctly and comfortably to ensure maximum performance when riding your bike. The height of your saddle is extremely important as if it’s incorrect it can cause bad posture, muscle pain, strain and even injury.
Knee pain is a common sign that your saddle height is wrong. If your saddle is too low it can result in pain at the front of the knee and if it is too high it can cause pain behind the knee or in the hamstrings. There are different methods for finding the correct saddle height. Take a look here to determine the best method and find the correct saddle height for you.
Safety comes first. If you’re one to cycle at night, you must make sure that you can see the road and everyone else can see you. Check your lights are working, or if you haven’t got any, it may be worth purchasing some.
Before heading out, you should check you have everything you need in your saddle bag. It’s handy to have some quick-fix tools in case of a puncture or other inconveniences such as a broken chain. Here’s a list of some items you should pack before hitting the road:
1If you’ve tried all of the above and your bike still isn’t ready for action, it may be worth getting a new one! Take a look at our extensive range of bikes here, and find the perfect one for you.