With the weather warming up, there is no better excuse to dust off your bike and get outside. As it becomes more tempting to venture out, it’s important to remember to adhere to the social distancing rules – maintaining at least 2 metres from others outside of your household.
It might have been a few months since you’ve been out for a ride and given the current unusual circumstances we find ourselves in, you may now be itching to get out on your bike. But if it’s been a while there’s a few things to do before you pull it out from the back of the garage and just hop on.
Bikes that don’t get much TLC can soon throw up problems on even short rides. In some cases it can be unsafe to ride. A safe bike is a happy bike and so it is always worth doing a quick safety check before any sort of ride. Plus, by keeping on top of preventative maintenance, you will avoid expensive bills further down the line or, putting the emergency services under any more pressure because of a nasty tumble.
Here are a few basics for returning riders as well as a few top tips for longer-term bike care.
Tyres need to be checked regularly for punctures, degradation and even light damage. This is the part of your bike that likely suffers the most wear and tear. If it looks like your tyres are nearing the end of their lives, get them replaced promptly – you’ll be thankful when you don’t have to carry your bike home when your tyre decides enough is enough. Check out our full bike tyre range for a replacement, with bike tyres for every wheel size imaginable.
Tyre inflation is equally important. If your tyres are flat, then you risk damaging them if they collide with something and you won’t be able to ride as quickly and efficiently. By keeping a track pump in the same place as you store your bike, you will easily be able to give the tyres a top-up of air. The handy pressure gauge will show you if your bike tyres need some extra inflation, plus you’ll be able to match the recommended PSI on the side of the tyre more accurately.
A Topeak Joe Blow Max HP Floor Pump is a great option for maintaining tyre pressures more accurately. Although a hand pump will do the job, the Joe Blow Max HP is easier to use and the accurate pressure gauge means you won’t under- or over-inlfate your tyres.
Chain, cassette, cogs – essentially anything that moves!
The issue with metal moving parts is seizing, especially if your bike has been left standing for a while. This is where a quick wipe with an old cloth and touch of bike spray can make life easier (a 400ml Muc Off MO-94 Bike Spray or some WD40 will do the job). Give your moving parts a good spray and start turning your pedals slowly. If things still don’t start moving, then keep soaking everything with bike spray or WD40 and try a bit of brute force!
Without working brakes and gears, your bike is undoubtedly unsafe. Check that cable connectors are tight and be on the look out for rust or degradation on the cables themselves. If there is any fraying, rust or the cables aren’t pulling at all, they’ll need to be replaced.
It’s always worth having your bike lights ready to go, even if you’re only riding in the daytime, so replace / recharge if they haven’t been switched on for a while. With fully charged batteries, you won’t get caught out if it suddenly goes dull or you decide to ride just that little but further towards the end of the day.
If you’re still using a set of bike lights that rely on disposable batteries, it’s probably time for an upgrade. Our Cateye Volt / XC Bike Light Set uses rechargeable batteries and plug straight into a USB port, so you won’t be constantly having to buy and throw away batteries.
It may seem obvious, but going for your first ride of the year on a scruffy, dusty bike isn’t very inspiring – give it a good scrub before heading out and you’ll look and feel much better for it!
Get all the cleaning equipment you’ll need with a Muc Off 8-in-1 bike cleaning kit, which includes brushes and sponges for a more accurate and long-lasting clean.
Now that you’ve got your bike back to full working order, it’s time to get out and ride it! Enjoy the warmer weather and don’t forget to say safe, look after yourself and look after others.