Wipe Off the Cobwebs and Pump Up the Tires, It’s Time to Ride


By Tom Jow

The winter of 2014-15 may be remembered as the winter that never was. I, however, will remember it as the year I rode the Shoreline Trail in shorts and short sleeves in February. One thing that makes it easy to do that first ride of the season during what should be winter is impeccable preparation for cold storage (I washed mine). Whatever the reason your bike is not clean and ready for the season, it’s a good idea to perform some key service so that all goes well the first few times out.

Check the hub, bottom bracket and headset bearings carefully.
Check the hub, bottom bracket and headset bearings carefully.

Wash your bike

Who wants to work on a dirty bike. Every bike service should begin with a thorough cleaning. This means getting out the dish soap, buckets, degreaser and brushes. Fill a bucket with soapy water. Wash the frame, wheels, and fork. Scrub the tire sidewalls and tread. Yes, tread. Degrease and brush the chain. Rinse. Don’t have a cleaning kit? Your favorite local bike shop will have everything you need for under fifty dollars.


After the bike is clean, inspect the frame and fork for cracks or other damage. Remove the seat post and clean the inside the seat tube. On a suspension forks, check the fork and rear shock for scratches on the stanchion tubes (the smaller diameter ones). Grab a flashlight and look inside the disc brake calipers to see if the pads need to be replaced.

Inspect the disc brake pads with a flashlight.
Inspect the disc brake pads with a flashlight.
Inspect rim brake pads for wear and embedded debris.
Inspect rim brake pads for wear and embedded debris.

Check rim brake pads for wear and they may also have bits of debris embedded that need to be cleaned out. Inspect the drive train for damage to the derailleurs or sticky and damaged chain links. Check the wheels for dents, trueness and bent or broken spokes. Also, inspect the tires for deep cuts or missing knobs in the tread, or damage to casing of the sidewalls.

Remove the dried out "Stan's Baby" from inside the tire.
Remove the dried out “Stan’s Baby” from inside the tire.

For tubeless tire users with sealant installed, it’s important to check if the sealant needs to be “refreshed”. Despite holding air, we want to have liquid sealant inside the tire. Finally, give the hubs, headset and bottom bracket a test spin to feel for loose, rough or dry bearings.


Seat-tube cleaning
Clean the seat tube carefully with a rag and screwdriver.

Test every bolt for tightness. Be especially careful not to over tighten carbon parts. If in doubt, purchase a good torque wrench and follow the manufacturers recommendation.

Remove the valve core to quickly refresh Stan's sealant.
Remove the valve core to quickly refresh Stan’s sealant.

Inflate the tires and on a mountain bike, the suspension components to the proper air pressure (you do have these written down don’t you?). Lubricate the chain with your favorite lube.

Keep in mind that suspension forks and shocks should be serviced at least once per year. Tires, chains and cassettes wear out and the beginning of the season is a good time to replace them. Hopefully you did not find anything that requires major service. If you did, there is plenty of time to get it fixed before the best part of riding season. Now you’re good to go!

Got a bike question? Email Tom at [email protected].

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