Got a bike hidden in the back of the shed that you’re keen to get out? Here are our top tips to ensure its safe to ride and help you get out and about.
Ensure that your tyres are fully inflated and fit for the road. If you have access to a track pump, this will make things much easier, but a standard hand pump will work just as well. It’s a worthwhile investment to get a pump with a pressure gauge as it’ll help you get the pressure of your tyres just right. The best way to check the pressure in your tyres is to give them a good ‘ole squeeze. If they are fairly solid, then that’s a good sign. The recommended pressure for your tyres will be printed on the side of the tyre, usually in PSI and Bars. If you’re tyre pressure is too low, you will more than likely end up with a puncture. If you have a puncture, then the tyres won’t inflate and you’ll need a new inner tube too or a quick fix with a puncture repair kit.
Check your tyres too. As your bike as been left for a while, the rubber on the tyres may be beginning to crack due to the constant change in temperature. A cracked tyre is more likely to lead to a puncture, so better to replace it now than be left with a flat tyre out on a ride.
It’s highly likely that after time locked away your drivetrain (chain & gearing) has become a little dry and possibly even rusty. In order to work at its optimum level, the chain needs to glide freely across the gear teeth, so it’ll probably need a good clean and some lubrication.
At bare minimum, lubricate the chain and gears well, using a wet lube. There are various types of lubricants on the market, but for this job, we would recommend wet as you’ll need to apply it less often. Ideally the chain will likely require a good clean too. This is easily achievable with a good degreaser and a stiff brush, loosening the rust on the chain. You can also buy specific chain cleaning kits, which do make the job a little easier. Once you’ve cleaned the chain, be sure to give it a good rinse before applying the lube.
In order to apply the lubrication, hold the lube in one place on the chain whilst completing one full revolution with the pedals to ensure that the chain is completely covered. Once you’ve done that, then change the gears to ensure that the lubrication has made its way up the gear teeth and into the chain links. Use a dry cloth or rag to wipe off any excess lube from the chain.
So now we need to ensure that you can actually stop once you get out on the road! There are many different types of brake, although they all fundamentally work the same. A calliper holds the brakes and clamps down onto the braking surface (usually wheel rim, disc rotor or an internal surface if using drum brakes). In order to check them ensure that you have plenty of brake materials left on the pad. You will usually find a wear indicator on the pad. Then check that the surface it clamps on to is clean and free of any damage.
Finally spin the wheel and check that a squeeze of the brake makes the calliper work and stops the wheel from turning. If it doesn’t, then you’ll need to take your bike in for a service.
Saddle and handlebars are the next thing to move on to, ensuring that they don’t move whilst you’re out for a ride. You’ll need a set of allen keys or spanner to tighten them, depending on the type of bolt on your bike. Check and tighten your seatpost, saddle and handlebar bolt. The correct tightness is usually printed next to the bolt. As long as none of the parts are carbon, hand tight is usually a good place to start though!
Your bike should now be ready to hit the road! Each and every time before you go out, it’s always advisable to do an ‘M Check’. The M Check requires you to go from the back wheel, up to the saddle, down to the peddles, up to the stem and handlebars, finishing with the front wheel. Check that bolts are still tight, tyres are inflated, gears and chain are running well and there is no damage anywhere. It’s a good safety check to ensure that your bike is at its best each and every time you head out.