As the weather starts to improve, prepare to see the fair weathered cyclists out in their drones as they and the year round roadies prepare to ramp up the training mileage. After six years of commuting through grim winter conditions, I take the switch over pretty seriously by changing tyres, chains and bar tape along with a polish up. Here are a couple of things I focus on for the winter/spring bike transition (in no particular order).
They’re probably the most essential part of any winter bike but not so necessary in the summer months. Plus they’ll take a few seconds off chasing your mates down the final hill of the sportive. Mudguards aren’t always the prettiest things either so taking these off will breathe new life into your bicycle.
- If you’re planning on racing this summer you’ll need to remove these before the race as they’re not allowed on any race circuit.
During the winter months, I use 32mm tyres to avoid punctures on the boggy muddy roads. When summer comes around I switch to thin and fast 25mm tyres as the roads clean up. Switching from thin tyres means less drag on the ground, less weight from the wheel, therefore, a faster-rolling speed. I only do this on my winter bike, my city bikes stay on 25mm tyres all year round.
If you run one particular tyre like my city bike check for wear, look out for if there are any cuts in the tyre wall or cracks on the main outside body of a tyre as these could lead to future punctures. If there seems to be a lot of wear (like the image below) it’s wise to look at getting it changed as soon as possible as not only will it puncture easily, it won’t provide a great deal of grip either.
If you don’t often check your brakes, now is a good time as all the grit and mud from the winter months will have worn your brake pads down. This may be a good opportunity to completely remove them and give them a good scrub with soapy water as things can easily get stuck in them too.
If you run on hydraulic brakes, you should consider giving them a good bleed. But if you don’t feel like making a mess in the middle of your living room (if you have ever tried bleeding brakes yourself, you know it can get really messy real quick) make an appointment at your local bike shop, they will be happy to do the “dirty” work for you.
Over time, any cable on a bike will stretch and in doing so performance will diminish. It’s therefore, essential to be aware of when the gears and brakes aren’t efficiently moving or deploying correctly. Brakes are little easier to adjust; make sure you’re able to pull both brake leavers without the leaver hitting the handlebars.
If it does hit your handlebar or doesn’t compress fully then observe the tension nut at the top of the brake calliper, which when tightened will draw the brakes closer enabling you to brake more efficiently. Make sure when adjusting the brakes that your wheels still spin freely!
Your gears aren’t quite as straight-forward, but if they’re slightly out and not changing 100% it’s still possible to adjust them. On your rear mech, you’ll find a similar nut which when turned will either increase or decrease the tension in the mech moving it.
- I tend to use my local bike shop with any gearing issues as my previous experience of lining these up is endless torment often ending with the gears still clunky and not shifting smoothly.
This could be the first time your chain has seen some lubrication since last summer so observe carefully for any defects in the chain. This could be a crack, a broken line or even a rough patch of rust which stops the chain from moving properly. I use Muc-Off Chain Cleaner to remove old grease and grime before applying new lube to the chain but soapy water will help remove a lot of grit and dirt. Grab a rag and a tough brush, or a toothbrush, apply plenty of chain cleaner/soapy water and scrub accordingly. Dry off with a rag before reapplying chain lube.
- Once dry I tend to apply lube followed by running the chain around a rag before re-applying again. Make sure your chain all flows correctly grabbing to each chainring tooth.
This is not essential but for me, it’s what makes the bike look and feel brand new. Your bar tape takes quite a beating month to month so reapplying some fresh tape makes the ride a lot more enjoyable as well as your bike looking in tip-top form.
All the above coincide with a good wash. This should be a regular routine when aiming to keep your bike working like clockwork. Particularly if you’ve got races or cycling events coming up. If you’re apprehensive about any of the suggestions above take your bike to your local bike shop and let them give it a once-over.
Get the best out of your bike this summer and give it the TLC it deserves. If your bike looks and feels good it’ll bestow that confidence in your riding making the whole experience a good one!
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