Well that escalated quickly. This 2022-2023 winter season was certainly one to remember. From giant snowbanks in California to almost no snow in the Northeast, the entire riding season was turned on its head after the last day of fall.
If you're like many riders, you put your bike away in the garage at the end of fall, bundled up and started thinking about winter sports, turkey and watching endless YouTube bicycle videos.
It may have snowed here last Monday, but today it's 86 degrees and that means it's time to get the gear out, check its condition and give the bicycle a little touch up to make sure it's ready to roll when the homies call and say meet at the parking lot, roll-out at 9!
After a quick rap session with my local bicycle wrench, here's what I typically do when I want to get ready for the riding season ahead.
Top 5 Tips to Get Your Bicycle Ready for The 2023 Riding Season
Give your bike a thorough cleaning: If you're like me, you might have been pushing it a little too far into the fall and when you had your last ride, you pulled into the garage and hung the bike up after a quick wipe down. The entire season prior's wear and grime left on the bike. Over the winter months, your bike probably accumulated more dirt and grime and maybe that sweat-salt was left to corrode that bicycle that costs more than your car. (Guilty as charged!) Time to get a bucket and a mild soap and water to give your bike a thorough cleaning. Pay particular attention to the drivetrain, as dirt and grime can cause damage and wear down the components. Remember to keep the water pressure as low as is necessary to remove the dirt and soap, but not so much you blast the bearings out the backside of your rig. Let the soap, water and your elbow grease get the job done. This is as much your warm up as it is a bike cleaning. Don't want to blow a hammy before you even throw a leg over the bike.
Inspect your tires: These hot and cold temperature changes, plus the dryness of winter can be the final straw on tires that may have already been on the edge of needing replacement. Take time to check your spoke tension, hubs (listen for grit and grinding), and tire pressure. Make sure they are inflated to the tire manufacturer's recommended level. Inspect the tires for any cracks or signs of wear, and replace them if necessary. Given the component shortages over the last couple of years, many of us pushed our equipment just a little more than we might otherwise, so put in an order for new rubber now if you need it. Better to have it and replace them when you need them, than to find out you still can get your preferred brand or model of tire when you're flat on the side of the road or trail. Ain't nobody got time for that! Finally, give the wheels a spin on the stand and make sure they are true. Especially if you tightened any spokes. Tacos are for after the ride. Not during.
Check your brakes: Test your brakes and make sure they are working properly. Look for signs of excessive wear on the brake pads, and replace them if necessary. Check lever-to-brake modulation to make sure your brakes activate at the time and sensitivity you prefer. Replace fluid and bleed as required--or have your local bike shop do this for you.
Lubricate the moving parts: Did we mention hot and cold temperatures aren't really great for moving parts? Well, over time the moving parts of your bike can become dry and start to squeak, squeal or grind. The obvious places would include your chain and pivot points on your bicycle. Check your headset, fork, hubs and bottom bracket for any leftover dirt and grime and lubricate per manufacturer recommendations. Use your preferred lubricant on the chain. Run up and down your gears and make sure your derailleur is moving as expected and is precise in shifting. Be sure to wipe off any excess lubricant, as too much can attract dirt and grime.
Make sure your bike fits properly: Look, some of us put on a few lbs during the offseason and that can mean sometimes what fit last fall...isn't quite comfortable now. No problem. Take a quick sit on saddle and make sure that your bike fits you properly. Take a spin around the block and see if anything needs adjustment. That might include seat height, handlebar position, suspension sag (if you have a suspended frame) and overall fit of the bike to ensure a comfortable and safe ride. This might also be a great time to consider getting a professional bike fitting. (Remember that nagging numbness in your palm, lower back pain or knee pain? A quick visit to a certified bike fit professional can make a world of difference.)
-Charge the things that eat batteries. Lights, wireless drivetrain batteries, cycling computers. And obviously the GoPro!
-How's that riding gear? Helmet cleaned and inspected? Shorts and jersey in good shape? Shoes looking on-point?