How to Tune Up Your Bike for Spring
Spring tune-ups prepare your bike for the road or trails and help ensure your first ride of the season goes smoothly. From tubeless tires to charging your electronic shifting, it can be tough to remember what to check! We’ve put together just a few easy tasks you can do at home before your first ride of the season.
Take Care of Your Bike: Spring Tune Up Basics
Bikes stored for several months need a few tweaks before they come out of hibernation. The odds are good your tires will be flat, and your chain will need lube, but what else is included in a spring bike tune-up? The key is to focus on things that wear (like your chain and brake pads) and things that dry out (like tubeless tire sealant). Most bike maintenance tasks below will be easy for any cyclist, but if you run into anything that requires special tools or a little extra know-how, we’re here to help.
The Spring Bike Tune-up Checklist
Give yourself at least 30 minutes to run through our checklist. Don’t wait until the day you want to ride, either. Leave your inspection to the last minute, and you might discover an issue you can’t fix in a jiffy, leaving you without a ride. Here’s how to get started!
1. Wash your bike
Even if you washed it at the end of the last season (and let’s be honest, you probably didn’t), cleaning your bike. Not only will it have your rig looking shiny and new, but you’ll be able to take a close look at the frame and components as you scrub!
2. Check your chain
A simple chain gauge tool is a great way to inspect how worn your chain is. Replacing your chain before it’s past the .5 mark can lengthen the life of your cassette and chainrings, saving you money over the long haul. Check your chain every few weeks if you’re riding consistently!
3. Check your brakes
Inspect your brake pads for wear. That’s usually easier on a bike with rim brakes; look at how much rubber is left and check that the braking surface is debris-free. Disc brakes, especially hydraulic disc brakes, can be a bit more work. Squeeze the brake lever and make sure both brakes have a similar pull distance. If the brake pulls almost to the handlebar or feels squishy, you might need a brake bleed!
4. Check your batteries
If you’re riding electric shifting, give your batteries a full charge and make sure your equipment runs on the latest software update. If you need help, stop in!
5. Check Your Tires
Traditional tubed tires just need air; inflate as you normally would while keeping an eye out for cracking rubber or leaks. Tubeless tires rely on sealant to seal small holes. Over the winter months, this sealant can dry out, making it much less effective in rushing to and filling a puncture. Remove each wheel and shake the tires near your ear; if you can't hear sealant sloshing around, it's time for a top-off.
What If My Bike Has Been on the Trainer?
Your bike is finally free of the trainer – but it will definitely need some work! Riding your bike inside is often just as demanding as outdoors. If you rode consistently all winter, take a long look at these components before you head outside.
- Your Drivetrain – Indoor miles take a severe toll on your chain, cassette and drivetrain. Check your chain for wear, and if it’s .75 or more on the gauge, you may need to replace your chain and cassette to ensure smooth shifting. If you have a wheel-off trainer, also known as direct drive, your chain will be much more worn out than the cassette installed on your wheel. Plan on replacing your chain and cassette each spring.
- Your Headset – Putting in the work will make you sweat. All those Zwift races and TrainerRoad workouts mean you’re usually dripping plenty of sweat and corrosive salt onto your headset, shifters and cables! Inspect your headset and make sure it turns smoothly. If turning it feels stuck or sticky, there’s a good chance you need to replace your headset or use some all-purpose grease to lubricate it.
- Your Pedals – Chalk another one up for sweat. Over time, sweat can cause the springs in your pedals to rust and fail, which cause make it hard to get in and out of your pedals. Take a close look at your pedals; if they’re rusty, try adjusting the tension using the two small bolts that manipulate the springs. You need new pedals if the bolts won’t turn or the spring snaps!
What About a Mountain Bike Spring Tune-Up?
Most mountain bikes need the same tweaks and touches above, plus an extra consideration. Both suspension forks and shocks need service to perform well and to avoid damaging the internals. Manufacturers like RockShox and Fox recommend servicing your suspension every 30-50 hours. You can usually get more time out of your fork and shock by checking the air pressure before every ride!
Hit Spring at Full Speed with Brick Wheels
We’re Traverse City’s go-to bike shop, with professional technicians and the most knowledgeable staff in town. Trust your spring bike tune-up to Levi, Chris and the gang for fast, friendly repairs that make every mile more fun. Learn more about our bike repair packages today.