Spring tune-up for the green machine

Photo: iStockphoto.com/Andrew Howe

When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.
H.G. Wells

Get road worthy
When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.
H.G. Wells

Get road worthy
Spring is the time of year when we fall in love again with our bicycle. But nothing kills your enthusiasm for riding than a bicycle that's not road worthy. So head off frustration and disappointment by doing a spring tune-up. Start off with this simple list, recommended by Montreal blogger and bicycle guru Gerry Lauzon.

  • PUMP UP THE FLABBY. Check your tire pressure, since porous rubber tires lose air over time and need to be pumped up.
  • CHECK FOR WEAR. Bald spots mean you need to replace your tires.
  • CHECK BRAKE LEVER AND CALIPER ACTION. Head over wheels is no place to end up on your first ride of the season. Make sure the brakes are there for you.
  • CHECK BRAKE-PAD WEAR. The rear pads tend to go first, so start at the back and work forward.
  • CHECK ALL CABLES. Rusting or fraying cables, derailleurs or brakes are dangerous. Replace them immediately.
  • LUBE UP THE CHAIN. Do a back pedal and watch for any jamming. A slack chain should be replaced. Oil the chain with biodegradable chain lubricant such as Pedro's ChainJ or Bioblend's Biolube C&CFG.
  • GET TIGHT WITH ANYTHING LOOSE. Check for any loose screws or bolts and tighten them.
  • CLEAN YOUR BIKE. Dirt and grime can age your bike, so pick a nice enviro-friendly all-purpose bicycle cleaner and degreaser to clean things up.
  • Most bicycle experts recommend a tune-up at least once a year and higher-end bicycles tend to need a complete overhaul at least once a year.

    Learn how to do it yourself

    For the co-ordinated and ambitious, Carl Stephenson offers a step-by-step DIY overhaul repair site. An overhaul usually includes adjusting or realigning the headset, handlebar stem, crank bearings/bottom bracket, front wheel hub, rear wheel bearings, brakes and front and back derailleurs, as well as tightening all nuts and bolts, wheel truing or straightening and tire inflation. If you decide to go with a pro-shop-ship expect to pay between $30 to $70 for a tune-up and between $65 to $150 for a complete overhaul. Contact your local bicycle club for repair workshops and for a bike shop near you.