CHECK OUT OUR GUIDE TO MAKING SURE IT’S RUNNING PERFECTLY! 

Some of us are lucky enough to have two bikes; a ‘best bike’ for summer, and a trusty old ‘hack’ for winter. And for those of us that only have one bike, we may be getting our beloved bike back out of storage having turned to other activities in winter.

The changing of the seasons to spring may be making you consider getting that pride and joy ‘best’ bike out of the garage and ready for action, however, just because your ‘best’ bike has been stored in the warm and dry all winter, it won’t necessarily be ready to ride straight away.

We recommend you carry out the following key checks before you unleash her into the sun:

Chain:

If you didn’t fully clean and degrease your chain before you put the bike into storage, it may have rusted, corroded or dried up. The minimum we recommend you doing is giving the chain a wipe down with a degreaser or running it through a dedicated chain cleaning tool, and then re-lubricating it. In the worst case, the chain may be rusted, in which case it will require replacing. This is a quick and simple process that can be performed with our chain pliers and chain tool.

If you’ve been using the bike on your turbo trainer in the garage or spare room there’s also a chance that the chain has been worn as you put in all those miles on Zwift. Check the chain for wear using a chain checker. You can check out our video on how to check for chain wear below. Replace the chain if necessary.

Cables

Gear and brake cables can stretch over time, and so it’s best to check this before you start riding that ‘best’ bike.

Brake Cables:

If you’re riding a road bike with rim brakes, there’s a chance that the cables may have become ‘sticky’. Check for this by pulling the brake lever – the brakes should engage immediately. If they feel like they’re sticking, it’s likely that the cable has either stretched, or isn’t running smoothly through the outer housing. In either case, it’s likely that a new cable will be required. It’s best to replace both the inner and outer together in this situation – that way you’re fixed for the whole of summer.

You can find out more about checking your brakes for functionality here.

Gear Cables:

Just as your brake cables may have stretched or deteriorated over winter, your gear cables may have too. You’ll be able to tell whether this has happened by running the bike through all the gears when the bike is in a stand, or by going for a quick test spin and shifting through all the gears.

If the gears are not running smoothly – that is, they are slow and sticky when shifting through the rear cassette – they may just need re-indexing, or, more likely if your bike has been in storage a long time, a new set of cables.

First, try adjusting your barrel adjusters so as to fine-tune the shifting. This changes the tension on the cable and how much it is ‘pulling’ your derailleur. This is normally enough to fix minor misalignments. However, as with the brakes, if you’re unsure as to the state of your cables, or know that they are particularly old, we suggest you replace the cables so you’re rolling smoothly through the whole summer.

Tyres:

If your bike has been in storage for several months, the tyres will definitely have deflated, as inner tubes do not hold air forever. Ensure you check the pressure in the tyres and pump them up if necessary.

If your bike has been on the turbo trainer and the front wheel has been on a stand, there is a chance that the sidewalls may have cracked. Riding a tyre with cracked sidewalls increases the chance of flat tyres. This is because the inner tube may bulge through a crack or split, and this may then either get caught by road debris and get torn and puncture, or may puncture as a result of the high pressure being placed on that one spot in the tube where it bulges through the tyre. If you spot any splits in the sidewall, change out the tyre immediately to prevent you from hassle when out on the road.

Check your nuts (on the bike that is….):

It’s always worth checking all the nuts and bolts are in good condition and secure before you ride a bike for the first time after it has been in storage. If the bike was left anywhere slightly damp, or the bike wasn’t well cleaned before putting into storage, the bolts clamping the components together may have rusted and deteriorated, or become loose.

Go over the bike, paying particular attention to the seat post clamp, stem and headset bolts. If you’ve been using your bike on a turbo trainer over winter, the headset and stem area may be particularly liable to rust, due to sweat dripping onto them.  If any of the bolts look in poor condition on initial inspection, fully remove them and check the thread for any signs of rust and wear. If they look to be past their best, replace them. It’s always useful to give any bolts you remove and then decide to keep a quick clean and grease, to protect them from rusting through the summer.

When you have assessed all the bolts for wear, and replaced any as necessary, we recommend you check they are sufficiently tight with a torque wrench. Any under-tightened bolts could work loose during a ride and this could lead to all sorts of unpleasant things. Check out our blog here why torque matters regarding the importance of torque. For a torque wrench to both cover your maintenance needs at home, but which is also great to put in your bike bag for summer travels, we recommend our adjustable torque wrench, which you can purchase here.