Despite a few rogue snowfalls, it is officially spring, which means it’s time to pull your bike out of storage and get back on the road. Experienced and prudent riders know those early miles will be smoother and safer after a preseason tune-up to make sure everything is in good working order.
“Once the weather starts to break, we start getting a steady stream,” says Mike Conlin, manager of the bicycle department at Outdoor Sports Center in Wilton. “We have three full-time mechanics to handle the load.”
A basic tune-up would include checking the tires, cables and brake pads to make sure they’re in shape for a full season, adjusting the gears and brakes, and doing basic lubrication to make sure everything functions smoothly. A more extensive overhaul would add checking the bearings and cleaning and lubricating a bike’s internal components. “That’s become easier and less frequent with the advent of sealed bearings,” says Conlin.
If you have had your bike 10 years or more, it might be a good time to think about a new ride. “Bikes have gotten lighter and smoother,” says Conlin, demonstrating a new push-button shifting system that works totally electronically. He says the most popular models are hybrid “street bikes” that feature flat handlebars and an upright riding position. But they have thinner tires allowing them to go faster than fat-tire mountain bikes, which are still popular with younger riders.
If a new bike is not in your plans, you might consider some new gear to wear. “The new clothing has gotten so technically advanced,” says Conlin. Fabric improvements make it possible to ride comfortably in conditions that might have kept you indoors a few years ago.
When you get out on your bike, make sure to wear a helmet. Says Conlin, “The new models are so light and secure you barely know you’re wearing one.”