Your bike has been out of sight – and probably out of mind – for the last few months. So what should you look out for before taking it out for the first time after its enforced hibernation?
Give the bike an M Check. It’s named for the rough pattern you follow from front to back. Start at the front wheel, move up the handlebars, down to the bottom bracket, back up to the saddle then down to the rear wheel. The longer you spend looking at the bike, the more likely you are to spot any issues, so give it the TLC it’s been missing for the last few months with a really attentive clean and lube. You’ll feel better about yourself, and the bike will be all the better for it. Watch the M Check video here
If your bike has been laid up for a while, check your tyres. The same properties that make a good tyre grippy mean that over time it can perish. Usually this will be a minor deterioration, but in extreme cases, it could be a safety issue – not to mention making punctures more likely. Rubber perishes and is usually the result of environmental factors such as hot temperature or excessive exposure to sunlight or materials you’ve ridden through. Check your tyres for rapid loss of pressure and any visible cracks or hardening in the rubber. Especially where the tyre has been in contact with the ground during storage
Even if your bike has been kept out of the rain, condensation can create enough dampness to promote rust – particularly on any surfaces where scratches or wear have exposed the metal. Give particular attention to moving components including the drivetrain and brakes. Check that the chain hasn’t rusted (a good reason to clean off all that accumulated grease and grit if you haven’t already) and that all the links are moving freely. If you’re a regular rider, a new chain is always a good way to start the new year – you’ll feel the difference.
When a bike is stored in a crowded space like the family garage or shed, it’s not unusual for it to get a few knocks over the course of a winter, so take a good look at the rear mech. The dangly bits are a weak point and the derailleur could be misaligned, which can in turn lead to failure of the rear hanger. It’s designed to break relatively easily in order to prevent more serious and costly damage elsewhere – but at the very least, a failed hanger is going to spoil your day. If you’re not confident with the oily bits of your bike, there’s no substitute for a proper inspection by a qualified bike mechanic
Rust is not just restricted to your drive train. Condensation or moisture can also get onto your brakes and gear cables. This moisture will speed up for the deterioration of the cables. In some cases, moisture on cables has turned into ice/frost leading to some serious consequences. We always suggest replacing your brake and gear cables at least once a year.
Quick release skewers are a wonderful thing, but they can become loose – or you may have neglected to re-tighten them fully that last time you stowed the bike in your car boot. It goes without saying that you don’t want your wheels to fall off, so a good wheel check is Priority Number One before hitting the road. While you’re there, check that both wheels are true and turning freely, and give each spoke the time-honoured tap to make sure it’s secure. Take the time to adjust brake clearances – it can be fiddly, but well-adjusted brakes are a major contributor to a comfortable (and safe) ride. Ideally, replace brake blocks – you’ll be needing them this summer.
For more information on Cycle Superstore’s bike repair workshop, click here
Thank you to Cycle Superstore for this latest Blog post