Spring has sprung, but hopefully the springs on your bicycle seats haven't done the same, because this is the time of year to get out and hit the trails or wherever there's road to meet the rubber on your tires ... which hopefully aren't flat.
Now is the time to dig your bikes out from under the discarded Christmas lights (yours are down now, aren't they?), brush away the cobwebs, and get your family rides ready to ride. With gas prices what they are, bikes offer a great alternative method of travel as well as a fun way to exercise and relax.
Of course, you can take them into a bike shop for a tune-up, but you can also do the work yourself and save a few bucks. Here are a few tips to help get your bike in gear:
1. Clean it with a little soap and water or some mild cleanser. Scrub the wheels, seat, all of it. Make it shine.
2. Lube it. Turn the bike upside down and apply a bicycle lubricant to the chain while rotating the pedals. Wipe off any excess.
3. Test your brakes. They are obviously quite important for a non-disastrous ride, so making sure they work is imperative. Squeeze hand brakes to make sure they snap right back. Also check your brake pads to make sure they're not worn down or wearing unevenly -- if they are, you may need to have them adjusted.
4. Tighten what's loose. Check all the bolts and make sure they're secure. Also give the bike frame a close look to make sure there are no cracks.
5. Adjust handlebars and seat as necessary, especially for children who may have grown over the winter!
6. Test your tires. Pump them up with air if they've gone flat and inspect them for cracks. Blowouts and flats are not fun!
7. Take a test ride somewhere close to home in a low traffic area. If something still doesn't feel right, you may want to take it into your local bike shop to get a second opinion.
8. Don't forget your helmets! Make sure everyone's helmet still fits and isn't cracked or in need of replacement.
Do you enjoy bicycling? Do you tune up your bike yourself? If so, any other tips to add?
Image via eyeliam