Time to end your bike’s hibernation: 3 quick tips to get your bike ready to ride for the spring

bike tune up tips
Practice fixing a flat tire at home so you’re ready when the real thing comes along.

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The spring temperatures mean it’s time to tune up that bike you left chained to the light post all winter. We got a head start last night at a free bike maintenance class hosted by Gowanus bike shop 718 Cyclery. The class was only an hour but it was packed full of useful information and how-tos: you can sign up for the next free class on Wednesday (March 23). Here are our the three key tips we picked up to pull your bike out of hibernation and tune up for the season:
1. The first rule of bike maintenance is… keep your chain clean

Riding around New York City is a grimy affair. Dirt can wear down the teeth in your chain prematurely so cleaning it with a chain lubricant every few weeks is important, especially if you keep your bike outside. Flip your bike over and dab about a drop on each link as you slowly pedal with your hand. Grab a soft rag or an old t-shirt and and run the chain through a few times until it’s clean.

2. Know your tube size. The bros/gals at the bike shop will respect you for it

You’ll also get points for not interchanging the words “wheel,” “tire” and “tube” (those are all different parts of the bike). The size of your tube is listed on the side of your tire and will look something like “700x27c.” Here’s an example of what it looks like.

You’ll also find the appropriate range of air pressure for your tires listed there — look for “keep inflated” or “max PSI” and pump-up your tires until the gauge on the pump reads a pressure that’s within that range.

3. Carry what you need to fix a flat

To create your own fix-a-flat kit, don’t leave home without whatever tool will get your wheel off your bike (this will generally be an Allen key or multi-tool). You’ll also want to keep at least two tire levers on hand as well as a spare tube and something to inflate the tube (either a CO2 cartridge or small pump). Practice fixing a flat in your apartment a few times before your skills get tested on the road.

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