Cycling is the perfect cross training for all your fitness endeavors. The low-impact activity is a fantastic way to build core strength, get your heart rate up and make your legs and lungs strong. Plus, riding on the open road is a lovely way to explore some of the most serene areas of the region. Take the plunge: Make this your biking summer and feel the power.
Summer is fast approaching and the warming days are perfect for biking. But if your bike has been hibernating since last summer, it probably needs a little TLC to be ready for a rewarding summer of riding.
Getting your bike in tip-top shape is easy, and we’re here to help with our top 5 tips to get your bike ready for summer.
1) Air up the tires
Tires lose air over time so it’s a good idea to make a habit of checking them every time you go out the door. The side of the tire will indicate the range of recommended pressure. If you don’t own a bike pump, you can use one for free at most bike shops. The most important feature on a bike pump is a working pressure gauge. A standing bike pump is an inexpensive investment and it’s worth owning one if you’re going to own a bike. Keeping your tires properly aired up will make for a more efficient ride, prevent flat tires and will increase control.
Not all tires and rims are created equal and not every rider needs to be riding at the same tire pressure, so the recommended pressure listed on the side of your tire is merely a guideline. Some riders prefer lower tire pressure to increase traction and control especially when going downhill quickly. Experiment riding on the lower end of the range vs. the higher end of the range to find what works best for you.
Do your shoulders, back, neck or upper arms ever feel fatigued when riding? If you’re riding on rough road (such as chipseal on remote roads), reducing your tire pressure can be a way to reduce the vibration that runs through your body. Having a less rigid wheel set can also help reduce that stress. If you’re thinking of switching wheels, talk with us to learn more about your options.
2) Spin the pedals
If you hear squeaking, your chain needs a little lube. Lube is inexpensive and available at all bike shops. The most common brand is TriFlow and it costs less than $10 for a small bottle that will last for years. To coat your chain, drip a few drops on the chain as you spin the pedal and switch gears. Once fully coated, hold a rag lightly around the chain for a few spins to wipe off excess lube, which attracts dirt and grime.
If you hear your chain rubbing, shift through to ensure you’re in the right gear. If that doesn’t help eliminate the noise, schedule an appointment at your bike shop for a tune-up.
3) How are your wheels?
Spin your wheel and look head-on at the wheel near your brake pads. Do you see the wheel spinning perfectly smoothly, or do you see a slight side-to-side wobble? If there is any wobble, schedule an appointment at your bike shop for a tune-up and they will true your wheel, a process of adjusting the spokes to get your bike in alignment.
Wipe down your rims with a rag and look for any slight cracks in the metal. Cracks are a sign that your wheels need to be replaced right away. If you haven’t replaced your wheels in a few years, chances are you need new ones, and it’s a good idea to replace them both at the same time.
One way to get the most wear out of your rims is to check your brake pads for any bits of metal in them. Metal in your pads which will eventually begin wearing down your rims, so if you find any bits, pick them out to help to extend the life of your rims.
4) How does your body feel?
Now it’s time to go into a deeper assessment. Head out on a short 2-3 mile spin around the neighborhood. Overall, how does your bike feel as you ride? Take note of how you feel and how the bike feels.
Aches and pains as you ride aren’t par for the course, they’re a fixable problem. A bike fitting specialist can help you have a more comfortable ride. For $100-300, a specialist will assess your riding position and make recommendations for bike adjustments that can alleviate your aches and pains. That may seem like a lot to spend, but you want to be able to ride to your heart’s content this summer, and not have to stop because of pain. The information you gain in a bike fit will last year for years to come, and you deserve a comfy ride.
5) Love your ride
If you’ve been wanting a smoother ride, a faster ride or you know you need a new set of wheels, let’s talk. At Sugar Wheel Works, we work closely with all of our customers to match the wheel to the rider. We’d love to sit down with you to talk about how you can have a sweeter ride. It’s easy, and we’re here for you.
If you’re noticing rubbing, lose brakes, wobbles, inaccurate shifting or any other difficulties, schedule a tune-up at your friendly neighborhood bike shop. Shop experts will look over your bike to assess what needs to be done to get your bike in tip-top shape so you can ride with confidence all summer long. Sometimes shops have a short waiting period, so it’s a good idea to schedule your appointment a few weeks prior to when you need your bike ready.
Having a bike you love will help you love the ride, and cycling is so good for your overall health and wellness. Come talk to us at Sugar – we’ll help you have a Sweet Ride Summer.
Sugar Wheel Works is committed to designing and building fine bicycle wheels, by hand, in Portland, Oregon. We work closely with all of our customers to match the wheels to the rider for the sweetest possible adventure. We want you to love your wheels. And we ship worldwide.