The inspection for your bike
Bicycles are taken out of winter storage – at the latest – when the first warm rays of sun appear; and the ride into the countryside gets started. But wait! The bike – whether new or old – should first be thoroughly inspected. Be honest: when was the last time that you thoroughly inspected your bike?
You will clearly see whether your bicycle is ready for spring and fully functional if the bike is clean. A bucket of water, some dishwashing detergent, and a sponge is all you need for a basic clean-up. Special bicycle cleaners, which can be sprayed on and simply wiped off after a certain time, are suitable for ingrained dirt. Hard to reach areas can easily be cleaned with an old toothbrush. Then let the bicycle dry very well and use a soft cloth to polish away any water stains, if necessary.
IMPORTANT: Never use a pressure washer. It damages the delicate bearings and will damage your bicycle.
The air can escape after long storage even if the tubes or valves are not damaged. If you can press in the tyre by more than one centimetre with your thumb it must definitely be re-inflated. How much to inflate it is listed on the tyre wall, where you will find the minimum and maximum tyre pressure values. If you don’t happen to have a bicycle pump with pressure gauge, you can use the rule of thumb: the tyre should no longer yield with pressure.
IMPORTANT: The tyre must be replaced completely if the casing is damaged or if it has tears or brittle areas.
Ready to brake?
The functionality of the brakes is vitally important and much less obvious than the condition of the tyres. If the rubber of the calliper brake pads is worn off so much that grooves are no longer visible, they must urgently be replaced. The brake cables should be easy to operate and catch after about one-third of the way. If this is not the case, the tension must be adjusted via the adjustment screw. The brake performance is often reduced by dirt or even rust on the brake cables. Even a small squirt of oil with good creep properties will help. The squealing of brakes can be stopped by cleaning the rim of the tyre. Never spray oil onto the rims, because the braking effect will be completely gone!
IMPORTANT: In case of doubt, always consult a professional or a bicycle repair shop.
Does the chain run smooth?
The chain of your bicycle will definitely thank you for a bit more attention. It urgently needs a few drops of oil, specifically after long breaks or if it already squeaks or may even be rusty. It is imperative that you use the right chain oil. Add one drop of oil on each link of the chain while slowly turning the drive in reverse in a large gear and then switching through all the gears. You can then wipe off excess oil with a rag. It’s best if you have the gear shift system itself inspected by a professional.
TIP: Replenish with low-viscosity chain oil every three month. This improves operability and extends the service life of the chain.
Test the light even before your first ride at night. If headlights or rear lights are not intact, inspect the connections and light bulbs. It’s easy to change light bulbs yourself. The bicycle repair shop may be the better place for cable connections.
TIP: If you still use light bulbs you may want to think about switching to LED bulbs. They last much longer and are much brighter.
Last but not least, a critical look at the rest of the bicycle is worthwhile: are the pedals firmly fastened, do they run smoothly and do they have two reflectors on each side? Does the bell work and does each tyre have two spoke reflectors – so-called “cat eyes”? Does it have rear reflectors in addition to the rear light?
Everything there? Then there’s nothing standing in the way of your first ride on your well-maintained bicycle!