By Tom Jow — Finally, it’s March! If you live in the Mountain West and are not a winter sports person you know what I mean. We are all ready for our annual spring trip to Moab, St. George, Fruita, the Four Corners and beyond. However, is your bike ready? If you are like me, you rode until the last day of bike season and haven’t touched it since. After you make plans for that first trip, do at least the six things listed below:
- Lubricate the chain.
- Check every bolt on the bike that you can reach. If you have a torque wrench, great. If not, just make sure no bolts are about to fall out.
- Inspect the tires for cuts, debris, and other damage like knobs tearing off. If using a tubeless system, replace the sealant in tubeless tires. The liquid evaporates and will leave you with little puncture resistance (especially if you are going where there is cactus). Sealant can be installed through the valve stem (remove the valve core first!) or dismount about a quarter of the tire.
- Inspect the brake pads for wear. This is especially important on hydraulic disc brakes because the pads are self-adjusting. The only way to know if the pads are dangerously thin is to inspect them visually. With a bright light, look down into the caliper to inspect the thickness of the brake pads. If the pad material is one millimeter thick or less, it is time for a new set.
- If your bike has suspension, verify that the air pressure is correct. Don’t know what correct is? Didn’t record the settings? If not, chances are the bicycle manufacturer has guidelines on their website. And if not there, then visit the manufacturer website for the fork and/or shock.
Fortunately, bicycles are fairly simple machines. In most cases they continue to function with little to no maintenance. By performing these five simple tasks, you can guarantee that your bike will operate smoothly and safely for your first trip of the year.
Oh, and item number 6: Make an appointment at the bike shop before you leave.