Spring Bike Maintenance with Mike Easter

Boy, it’s getting nice out, right? But it’s been a long winter and your bike has been sitting in the garage, the basement, or worst case scenario, chained up outside. Perhaps you have been commuting around town all winter and those wet months have taken a toll on your once sleek ride.

If you are not a bike nut, you might not know where or how to start assessing your ride for wear and tear maintenance. To help get you and your peddle-bike road ready, Mike Easter, owner of Cyclotopia, shares a rundown of basics.

First step, check the tires
“Make sure you don’t have big cuts in it or strands and tubes hanging out, it’s not that difficult to take a look at it to see if there are cracks in it.”

Should you squeeze your tires to see if they are full?

“You can do that if you’re experienced with what appropriate tire pressure feels like, but if you’re not, using a pump with some kind of pressure gauge is a better way to do it. They might think they have a lot of tire pressure in there and not. We keep a pump up front so people can come by and check or fill them all the way up if they want.”

Next, take a look at your brakes
“When you engage the brake, see if one side hits first instead of the other side – that would be an indicator that there are some issues going on. Also if you pull the brake lever and it just goes all the way to the handlebar, that can be an indication.”

“Most importantly, you would just look at the brake and see whether there is much life left in them: usually a brake pad will have some cuts in it that, as you use the brake pad, they slowly grind down to a flat all the way across, so at that point yes, you need new brake pads.”

Lubrication is important
“This time of year, if somebody has been using their bike through the winter and not lubing their chain, what ends up happening is the lube gets washed off and you just don’t have anything on there and you don’t realize it because the water is acting as a lube. And so that’s why you hear people riding around town with chirping, noisy chains.”

“When the bike is dry, just try and make sure it has some kind of lubrication on there at all; if you do, you’re doing good, if not probably you don’t want to use anything like WD40, it’s a solvent, it’s not a lubricant. You will just have metal on metal. What happens then is you will just get excessive wear on the drivetrain and eventually it will just wear it out.”

Decide if your helmet, which you should have even though it’s not law, is in good shape
“Generally speaking, I think manufacturers recommend about five years on a helmet and then replacing it. They do break down because of atmospherics like ozone or gasoline, sunlight will break it down slowly, so they do recommend getting it replaced.”

“That being said, I do see some people riding around with helmets that are 20 years old, and that’s probably better than nothing. I personally believe in helmets and I ride with one.”

Locks and Lights
“A lot of people lose their bikes, I think, not because of the lock but because they were too lazy to lock the bicycle. I personally like U-locks with cable combinations – you want to make sure you get at least the rear wheel and the frame in the lock because the rear wheel is more expensive to replace.”

“You have to have a front headlight and a rear reflector.” It’s the law, BTW.

Check out Cyclotopia at 435 SW 2nd Street and get your tires pumped, your squeaky chain desqueaked, or just come learn more about your bike.

By Anthony Vitale