Bike riding season is just about upon most of the country. My fingers are crossed that most of the spring snow storms are done. So while the snow is still melting, here are some of my best tips for making sure your first outdoor rides of the year are great.
Tires: Check your tires for any sort of abrasions or cuts. Riding outside in the winter can cause a lot of the damage to tires since most streets are not cleaned until the spring. My recommendation for a great road bike tire that you can use all year long is the Continental Gator Skins. They are kevlar beaded and have great long lasting puncture resistance. Unless you are racing, these tires are for the masses.
- Tune Up: Most bike shops struggle to get by during the winter months. Bring your favorite local shop some love and get a tune up for your bike. If you don’t know how to do basic tune-ups on your bike, this is a great opportunity to support your local shop. Most basic tunes at shops go for about $35-50 and usually includes a full check-up on the drivetrain and brakes. A good shop will also recommend what parts need replacing to make sure your bike season goes off without a hitch.
- Restock the Consumables: just like a car, bikes have wear and tear items. In the spring I’m a fan of stocking up on road and mountain bike tubes and chain lube. You will no doubt go through all of these during the season and it’s a lot easier to start with a solid supply versus running to the shop every time you get a flat or need to get more chain lube. For chain lube my favorite is White Lightning which is a wax based lube. They have a lot of versions now, but I still go for their original formula called Clean Ride.
- Check your Head: In this case, check your helmet. Believe it or not, bike helmets only have about a 3 year life. So if you can’t remember when you bought your helmet, it’s probably been long enough for you to buy a new one. For checking your helmet, give it a close inspection for any sort of cracks in the foam. Remember that time you dropped your helmet on your tile floor and didn’t think very much about it, well that could have caused a crack. Also, remember that bike helmets are meant for 1 crash and 1 crash only. The foam is meant to dissipate the impact once.
- Clickity-Clack: I’m talking about those goofy looking bike shoes and the chunks of
metal or plastic on the bottom of them known as cleats. More than likely your cleats are in need of some replacing this spring. For most this is a quick $20 for safety and suddenly you’ll also feel that much faster on your bike. It’s a win win all over.