Tips to get your bicycle ready for the road
A lot can happen to our bicycles after they’ve sat dormant for months during winter. While in storage, tires go flat, parts get rusty or there may be need for repairs from the previous cycling season.
Common bicycle breakdowns we see through our BCAA Bike Assist program, are flat tires and problems with bike chains. So before you hit the road, here are a few tips to get your bike ready.
1. Clean your bike
Remove dirt and mud so you can inspect your bike’s condition more closely. Cleaning your bike regularly can also extend the life of its components. Be careful not to use too much water. Use a towel and an old toothbrush to clean everything
2. Air up and check tire condition
- Use an air pressure gauge to check for low tire pressure and ensure you reach the proper pressure after filling it with air. Keep the tire pressure to the amount recommended by the tire manufacturer (usually imprinted on the tire’s sidewall). Listen for escaping air as you inflate your tires to check for possible leaks.
- Inspect tires for damage and wear which can cause a tire blowout. Check for dents in tire rims or kinks in the spokes. Check for loose spokes by running your fingers around them to see if they twist in your hands. Tighten loose spokes.
- Test the wheel alignment. Lift the front end of your bike and spin the wheel to make sure there’s no wobble. Do the same for the rear wheel.
3. Test chain and derailleurs
- Inspect the chain to ensure it’s clean and free of kinks. Keep the chain properly lubricated using bicycle chain oil. Make sure there are no rusty links which can wear out over time and cause the chain to break.
- Test front and rear chain derailleurs. Put your bike on a stand or flip the bike upside down. Use one hand to turn the pedal and with your other hand, switch through all the gears to make sure you can move through them smoothly.
4. Inspect brakes
- Check the thickness of the brake pads. Most pads have little grooves notched into them which indicate when the pad should be replaced. If all the grooves are gone—install new brake pads immediately.
- Check the condition of the brake cables. If either brake cable is stiff or frayed, avoid riding and change the cable.
5. Prepare for emergencies
- Wear a bike helmet that fits you properly whenever you ride.
- Ensure you’re visible. Use front and rear lights, along with reflectors. Check the condition and batteries of your bicycle lights and reflectors.
- BCAA Bike Assist is available to all BCAA members. Carry your BCAA Membership card with you or have it on your phone by downloading the free BCAA app.
For a full tune-up or repairs, you can also take your ride to a bicycle service professional.
How does Bike Assist work?
Bike Assist works very much like Roadside Assistance service for vehicles. If you're biking and get a flat tire, broken chain or experience some other mechanical breakdown, just give us a call . We'll send a technician to do our best to repair your bike on the spot, and if this can't be done, we'll take you and your bicycle up to the distance based on your current level of BCAA Membership.