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Sunday read – 6 + 1 Easy Steps to Prep Your Bike for Spring

Cyclist on a white fixed gear bike in Denmark, Odense

March 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 easy doable steps for anyone who wants to prep their bike for the next season.

1. Brakes

Vintage brown metallic rusty bicycle by Kp Cyclery

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 then use the tightening barrel by the lever or by the brakes to tighten the cable. Once you’re happy with the adjustment, don’t forget to tighten the locking ring.

2. Bike chain

In 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 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 and get yourself a new chain, or if don’t have the tool to break the chain then simply get it replaced at a shop. Most shops will be happy to do it without scheduling a time beforehand.

3. Bike lights

Magnetic lights by CPH Parts – find them here

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 good magnetic lights in the KP Cyclery webstore if you’re looking for a change. They attach to any steel frame and turn on once attached, shut down once removed.

4. Handlebar tape or grips

Light blue urban bike with brown leather brooks handle bar tape
Brooks leather handlebar tape on our KP Cyclery bicycle in Laguna Blue

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 the good time to decide and order the one that will cheer you up for the season to come. Brooks is a good choice for a classic look. For a super funky look, you might want to check out the stuff BTP bartape has. As far as grips go, I really personally like the foamy model called Feather by Prologo on my Nighthawk cargo bike.

5. Saddle

Tightening Brooks B17 saddle
Use Brooks saddle key to tighten stretched saddle. Quarter of a turn at a time, tighten until you reach desired tension.

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.

6. Tyres

Have a good look at your tyres, pump some air into them (you will find the required pressure on the wall of the tyre) and make sure they’re not punctured. A 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 half way through the first ride of the season.

7. Bonus point – don’t get ripped off

If you’ve gone through the steps above then you shouldn’t really need professional help. Your bike is good to go. Of course a shop might tell you to come in every year for an expensive maintenance, but in reality, bikes have evolved a lot over the past decade. Only 10-15 years ago, almost all the bikes had loose bearing in the hubs and bottom brackets. These days all quality bikes will have sealed bearing, so there is really no need, or rather no way to take them apart, clean & lubricate them. So don’t get fooled by the much over-rated maintenance myth 🙂

Happy cycling!

Man and Woman walking with their bikes in the park

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Sunday read: Brooks Leather Saddle Maintenance & Care

Leather saddles have a ton of advantages over synthetic materials – they adjust to your anatomy, they get more comfortable with time, and if maintained well, they last forever and only look better with time. At the same time, if not looked after at all they might start cracking and lose their colour and character. Looking around Copenhagen shows you both ends of this line, the beauties and the beasts. No-one does leather saddles better than Brooks, so we will share 4 easy steps of leather saddle care to make your saddle last a lifetime.

  1. Give it some grease

    Even if you keep your bike indoors, never ride in the rain and only wear velvet pants, leather will have its natural wear. The saddle on the picture is a 1-year old B17 that I’ve ridden in all sorts of weather almost daily. As you see, it is starting to look like someone rubbed a sandpaper over the edges, this is to be expected. Easy medication against it is to take a piece of (clean) cloth and some leather fat. Brooks tells you to only use their saddle polish, but anything will do as long as it is natural and doesn’t have chemicals in it. Personally I would suggest bee’s wax, you can use it for saddle, grips, shoes, handbags etc.

    Leather fat for Brooks Saddle maintenance
    Natural leather fat by Gold Quality

    1-year old Brown B17 Brooks Saddle
    A year old Brooks Saddle with signs of wear.

    Brown Brooks B17 saddle care and maintenance
    Same saddle after a layer of natural leather fat. Rub it on, let it sit and rub excess fat off with a clean piece of cloth.
  2. Cover from rain

    Leather is not a huge fan of water. Just have a plastic bag in your backpack or under the seat for when it rains, pull it over the seat and keep your saddle in order and your rear end dry.

  3. Keep your bike indoors

    This one is not a must, but a rule of thumb is that your bike will last longer the less sun and rain it receives. The Bike Hanger is the perfect solution for bike storage on the wall if you have small spaces or you just want it to be out of the way in the corridor or garage. If you don’t want to keep it indoors then cover the seat with a plastic bag during the night so it won’t soak in the rain.

    White bike hanging on the wall with The Bike Hanger by KP Cyclery
    The Bike Hanger 2.0 in brown stores this bicycle in style
  4. Tighten your seat every once in a while

    In most cases, it will be needed only once a year, but still, it is a good idea to do it. All Brooks saddles come with a special key to tighten them as leather stretches. If you’re not sure when to do it then jump into the closest bike shop and they should give you a good idea and probably do it for you. NB! Don’t tighten a wet saddle!

    Tightening Brown Brooks B17 saddle
    Use Brooks saddle key to tighten stretched saddle. Quarter of a turn at a time, tighten until you reach desired tension.

And that’s as easy as it is. Our leather saddle care regime probably takes less than an hour of work a year. It will keep your Brooks leather saddle looking good for ages, and who knows, maybe one day you’ll sell it on eBay for a nice dime.

*We’re happy to do the above steps for you for free in our Copenhagen shop 😉