April is here, and it’s time to get your bicycle out and give it some love before taking it back on the road. This bike spring maintenance guide has some easily doable steps for anyone who wants to prep their bike for the next season.
1. Give it a good clean
If you use your cargo bike for commuting, there’s a chance that it hasn’t seen a good clean for a while. Grime can collect up thru autumn and wither months. A good wash can prevent rust and chain replacement, and your bike feels fresh. Use a bucket of water, dishwasher, and rags to get it clean. Start with the chain and the drivetrain, then move to other parts of the bike. Don’t forget to lube your chain afterwards.
Check if your brakes are in good condition – tighten the cables if needed. Simply roll the bike back and forth and press the brakes. If the lever comes closer to the handlebars than you would like, use the tightening barrel by the lever or the brakes to tighten the cable. Once you’re happy with the adjustment, don’t forget to tighten the locking ring. If you have hydraulic brakes and the lever is moving further than optimal then go to a mechanic and have your brake fluid changed and brakes bled. Check the wear of brake pads – if you hear any metal against metal sound during braking then you get some new pads installed right away. Using pads that are worn down to metal will damage your rims or discs depending on the type of brake you are using. If there is no metal sound yet, just visually check the thickness on the pad that is left. If in doubt, contact a local bike shop.
3. Bike chain
At the beginning of a new season, replacing a chain is almost a must. If you’re not super geeky about maintenance and don’t ride every day, then once a year can be a perfectly okay interval for changing a chain, and what better time to do it than in the spring when you’re brushing off the dust anyway. So before getting the bike out, pop by a bike store, get yourself a new chain, or if you don’t have the tool to break the chain, simply get it replaced at a shop. Most shops will be happy to do it without scheduling a time beforehand.
4. Bike lights
Bike lights are useless if the batteries are dead or they are not blinking bright enough. Check if they are still fit to protect you in the next season. We have some excellent magnetic lights in the KP Cyclery store if you’re looking for a change. They attach to any steel frame and turn on once connected, shut down once removed.
5. Handlebar tape or grips
Check the condition of your handlebar tape. If it is leather, perhaps it needs a touch up with some leather grease, or you are in the mood for an entirely new tape. Either way now is an excellent time to decide and order the one that will cheer you up for the season to come. Brooks is the right choice for a classic look. For a super funky look, you might want to check out the stuff BTP bar tape has. As far as grips go, I personally like the foamy model called Feather by Prologo on my Nighthawk cargo bike.
Leather saddles need maintenance once per year. Spring is the perfect time to wax your precious saddle with some bee’s wax (or any other good quality natural leather wax) and tighten it. Find ways to do it in our Leather Saddle Maintenance & Care guide posted earlier on our blog. If your saddle is non-leather, then check if its cover material is still intact and there are no cracks.
Have a good look at your tires, pump some air into them (you will find the required pressure on the tire’s wall), and make sure they’re not punctured. The good idea is to do this a couple of days before you go riding for the first time as you might otherwise have a slow puncture and get stranded halfway through the first ride of the season. If they are worn or cracked, replace them.