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5 things you can do to get your bike ready for spring riding

Christopher Casquilho | Published on 3/18/2024
Warmer weather and drier roads and paths are coming (or least for now).

The Mt. Baker Bicycle Club is already hosting weekend rides and soon, we'll be kicking off a set of weekly club rides on Tuesdays and Thursdays.Check the Event Calendar for details on upcoming rides.

If your bike has been resting in the shed from last season's labors, or if it's been keeping you going on the indoor trainer, here are five indispensable tips to get the bike going and join us on rides.

These are mostly things you can do yourself even if you don't do the detailed mechanical work on your bike. These aren't a substitute for a professional mechanical tune-up (whether you do it, or your bike shop does it). But these are simple things that if unattended, lead to most of the problems on rides.

Since we know you don't want to hold up the group, and riding is more fun than waiting for a ride home, go through this quick list before you head out on your next club ride.

1. Sweat check

If you use the same bike on your indoor trainer that you use for your outdoor exploits, check everything over for issues caused by sweat falling on your bike. This is much more of an issue with indoor training due to indoor temps, lower evaporation of sweat, and a tendency for your bike to appear cleaner since it hasn't been out getting dirty on the roads.

Since you likely haven't been using the brakes, give the break levers and the front brake mech some careful attention. It's probably not a bad idea to give the bike a gentle wash and drop a little oil into nooks and crannies where your sweat has been accumulating.

Also be aware of the deleterious affect sweat has on bar tape, especially between the tape and the bar itself.

2.Check your chain wear

If you haven't checked it in awhile, check your chain wear. Chain wear comes on slowly, then accelerates quickly. If your chain was fine at the end of last season, it might only get you a month or two of heavy use this season. Worn chains shift badly, drop off the rings and cassettes, and break when you're 20 miles from home. Worn chains also ruin cassettes, jockey wheels, and chain rings. Lubrication will not fix your worn chain. A new chain will!

You can get a simple cheap tool to check chain wear at most bike shops. If you're not sure how to use the chain wear tool, you can ask the bike shop staff when you pick up the tool. You can also just take your bike to the shop and ask them to check the chain wear for you. If it's badly worn, the chain is fairly simple to replace, or you can have the bike shop do it.

bicycle drivetrain

3. Clean and oil your chain

Do we have to say it? Judging by what we hear coming from behind us in the peloton each spring, we do.

We want to hear some rubbery rolling sounds, some clicking shifter sounds, and some light-hearted banter. We do not want to hear your chain squealing like a mob stoolie (unless we have been building esprit de corps in a deluge, in which case we can all dry off and laugh about it later.)

4. Tires, tubes, sealant

When was the last time you replaced your tires? If your bike has been sitting a long time, or you don't put in a load of miles, the tread might look ok, but the tire compound only lasts so long before it hardens, cracks, and fails. If you can't remember the last time you bought tires, it might be time for a new set. 

The same thing goes for old tubes. If you've been on an indoor trainer, you might not think of it often, because you're not running over stabbies and replacing the tubes on the side of the road. But tubes grow old and die, too. While we're at it - check the spares in your kit to make sure they haven't been rubbing against your multitool all season last year and now have holes.

For those of you running sealant - top it up, refresh it, do what you have to do!

If the back wheel of your bike has been off because - INDOOR TRAINER - go meditate on the current status of tires, tubes, sealant on that puppy!

5. Top off your tool kit

Again, indoor training means you've not been far from supplies and you don't need a ride home from your trainer if you have a mechanical. If the bike's been in the garage or basement all winter, maybe you haven't set eyes on the toolkit in awhile.

Find your tool kit. Familiarize yourself with its contents. Remember how your pump works. Some pumps work on both Schrader and Presta. Figure out if yours does. Even if you only use one or the other, maybe someone in the group will need to borrow your pump.

Make sure your multitool hasn't disassembled itself. They do that. Check your spares.

Did you pick up a new bike in a winter sale that has through-axles? Do you have the allen key that fits them?

If you've changed equipment to get ready for spring riding, make sure your toolkit still conforms to your bike!

If you used up some expendables last season like zip ties, tape, quick links, CO2, extra patches - make sure you refill before setting out.

Final bonus tip

With great weekly rides and new group rides added all the time, make sure to sign up for membership with the Mount Baker Bike Club, so you never miss an opportunity.

If you already have a membership, and you think of someone who would love to join us, invite them on a ride, or get them a gift membership.