By Ian Harding
This time of year, when most folks aren’t riding their bikes, is a good time to think about getting things set for spring.
Have you recently done an ABC (air, brakes, cranks) check? Did your bike have some issues last year? Slow or imprecise shifting? Noisy brakes? A worn or slipping drivetrain? Bald or cracked tires?
Now is the time to get those things fixed so you can really enjoy riding in the spring.
You can do some simple things at home with almost no tools. First, check all around the tires for any embedded small pieces of glass and /or metal that will for sure eventually give you a flat. Get them out with some needle nose pliers or with a small flat blade screwdriver.
Check your drive-train. Does it need a clean? Are your teeth (on your bike!) worn? Has your chain stretched? Local bike tool manufacturer Park Tool, based in Oakdale, has some great resources online (such as a chain checker} as well as all kinds of high-quality bike tools. The Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair (about $30) is an excellent resource that will help you either get the job done yourself or decide to use your local bike shop.
If you go the DIY route, we are fortunate to have bike repair stands with basic tools at several locations nearby (Mahtomedi Veterans Park, Saputo Station at Bellaire Beach, Lions Park in White Bear Lake, and along the Gateway Trail (at the Highway 12 tunnel and Duluth Junction). So once the weather is warmer you might want to take your bike there and take advantage of their nice built-in bike holder.
With smartphone in hand, use the QR codes on the bike repair stands or google the issue to get information about the repair. You could use the Park Tool online guide or have the the Big Blue Book of Bike Repair by Park Tool handy. Whatever you do, be very careful with any threaded components; they are easily overtorqued and ruined. Maybe leave those jobs to your local bike shop.
A good option is to go to your local bike shop and get a basic tune-up (always a good idea about every 1,000 miles) and have a professional evaluation. It’s also good to support your local bike shop since they support local trails and local riding groups. In the winter they typically have specials. If you bought your bike at a local shop, they might have special deals and even free one-year tune-ups.
ROAM in White Bear Lake has been a great supporter of Lake Links. They have a $79 tune-up special. You can find more information here.
Gateway Cycle (another longtime local bike store and supporter of the Gateway Trail and Lake Links) also has a $79 winter tune up and $20 off other repair packages (until 1/31) You can find more information here.
A little attention to your bike(s) now will make for good riding in the spring and summer.