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Spring is finally – thankfully – in full swing. Yes, the skiing this winter was great, one of the best seasons ever perhaps, but it was definitely time to move on.
So, yes, spring. Biking season (among other outdoor things of course). On the road, on the trail. Many miles of good fun.
So that bike of yours, is it still down in the damp basement, the musty garage, the dirty barn? Time to fetch it and get it ready for riding.
My aging but still very serviceable Specialized Hard Rock was going to need some serious TLC before it would be ready for the trails. (As for my old Bianchi road bike, well, that’s gonna take even more work, but that’s another story.) That much was obvious after rescuing it from a dark corner of the barn.
I didn’t waste any time frigging with the rigging and simply loaded it into the car and brought to the folks at Allspeed Cyclery & Snow in Portland for a good spring tune-up.
If you’ve taken even a modicum of regular care of your bike, you can probably get the thing ride-worthy on your own. But where to start?
Not being much of a useful bike mechanic myself, I asked Mike Davies, co-owner of Allspeed along with Chris Coulton, what a bike owner should do to get their bike in shape for the riding season.
TIRES, RIMS, CHAINS AND SUCH
For starters, Mike said, wipe the bike down to get the dust and dirt off. “You want to get it looking good so you can be happy with your ride,” Davies said.
Add air to the tires to the recommended maximum pressure. That number is found on the sidewall of the tire if you don’t know it by heart. Be careful when initially filling up the tires, especially if they’re flat, cautions Davies.
“Go slowly, adding a little air at a time to allow the tire to re-seat properly against the rim.”
Straighten the valve before you start. And look for dryness and cracking on the side walls. If you see any of that it’s time to replace the tire. Spin the wheels to make sure the brake pads aren’t rubbing on the rims.
Next, lube your chain using a chain-specific oil, something light and clean.
“Run it through the gears, then wipe it off with a rag,” advises Davies. “This ensures the drive train stays clean.”
If you don’t wipe, the excess oil will attract dirt, not a good thing.
After you’ve done these simple things, take your bike for a spin. Listen for noises. Does anything feel clunky?
“If so you’re probably going to need an expert tune-up,” Mike said.
New bikes usually don’t require a tune-up for 2-3 years, but with older bikes it’s good to have them tuned at least once a year.
“Chains stretch, cables stretch, cogs wear down, rims wear out.”
Bring your bike into the shop for a tune-up and it’ll get a thorough look-over to find the big things that might be wrong and even some of the not-so-obvious little things.
“We’ll give you a good idea of what it will cost right then,” said Mike. “Then we’ll get it scheduled and do the stuff. We’ll call you if anything is going to be over the estimate.”
I got a middle-of-the-road tune-up and now my old bike works great. My wife’s bike is in the shop now awaiting similar good care. Happy, happy for not a lot of dough.
LOOKING FOR A RIDE?
The folks at Allspeed are avid mountain bikers, and as such, they lead two group trail rides each week. On Monday nights at 6 there’s a ride for all abilities. The shop provides a leader and a sweep so you can go and have fun and know you’re not going to get lost or be left behind. Nice.
On Thursday nights at 6 there’s a faster ride with less stops that’s gets you a little further out into the woods.
Both weekly group rides leave from the Allspeed shop on Auburn St. in Portland.
“We don’t do any road rides yet, but we’re working on it,” said Davies. Meantime, Mike told me about the Saturday road rides for all levels with Back Bay Bicycle, as well as super-fast rides put on by Cyclemania (also on Saturdays). These shops offer a host of other rides as well.
All good Mike, thanks for the great info!