Have your bikes been sitting in the garage collecting dust all winter long? Well, now that the warmth and sunshine are upon us you’re probably starting to pull out the bicycles. However, there are going to be some things you will need to do to make sure your bikes are safe for its riders this spring and summer.

So, here’s how to prepare your bikes for that first spring ride of the year:

Six Steps to Tune Up Your Bike

You could always bring your bike to a bike shop to have it professionally tuned up, but it’s not necessary. This is likely stuff you could do yourself. If you’re interested in saving yourself about $50, then do it yourself. Here’s how:

1 – Clean your bike. Get all of that dirt, grease and dust off of it from sitting around for months. Clean everything from the frame to the chain to the pedals to the brakes to the seat. With an all-purpose cleaner, an old rag, and an old toothbrush, get to work on cleaning every inch of the bike.

2 – Inspect your brakes. You don’t want to be riding down a hill and find out then that there is something wrong with your brakes. Check the rubber brake pads which are located against the metal tire rim.

Using a flashlight, check to make sure they are wearing evenly and do not need to be replaced. They might need an adjustment if they have an uneven wear or a ridge in them.

If they are really worn, then you’ll need to replace them entirely. When the brakes are engaged, watch the pads to make sure they hit the rim at the same time. If they do not, then they’ll need to be adjusted.

You can do this yourself by adjusting the tension screw on the brake arm. If you are unable to fix it, then get it repaired, but do not ride the bike with faulty brakes.

3 – Check your wheels. Clean them with rubbing alcohol. Check the rims for any nicks or other damage. Replace the wheel if there’s any damage. Lift one wheel off the ground and spin it. Watch to make sure it spins smoothly. Do this on both sides.

A damaged rim leads to uneven tire wear and brake pad wear. This can lead to flat tires and brake pads that need to be replaced sooner. Adjust a wobbly rim with a spoke wrench. This is something you might want to have done at a bike repair shop.

4 – Check the pedals, chain, and derailleur (the device that moves the chain, making biking easier or harder). To check out these parts you might need a partner, or a bike stand. Spin the wheel as you did above, but this time shift it through the gears while it’s spinning. It should be easy to shift through the gears. If it’s not, you’ll need to bring it to a bike repair shop for fixing.

Next check the chain and all its parts for any damage (excessive wear, missing teeth, dents, etc.). This is the part that will need replacing most often. If it has any signs of excessive wear as described, then it’s time to replace it. This should been done about every 2000 miles, if you happen to keep track of how many miles you’ve biked.

5 – Check your tires. You want to make sure the rubber didn’t experience any dry rot while being stored all winter long. Check for splits, cracks, or tears – especially by the seams of the tire. Check the tread for uneven or excessive wear.

If you notice anything wrong it’s best to replace. Damaged tires can be very dangerous so err on the side of caution and replace if there’s any doubt.

6 – Lubricate. Making sure all of the moving parts are properly oiled will keep everything moving smoothly for you. You can apply lubricant to the chain while slowly turning the pedal to make sure the whole chain becomes lubricated.

Lubricate the derailleur, the pivot point on brake levers, and the cable wire. Wipe off any excess lubricant with a clean dry rag.

Now you’re ready to ride. Always give your bike a once-over before you take it out to make sure all parts are in good working order. You don’t need to run it through this extensive test each time, but checking the brakes and tires before every ride will help keep you safe.

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