March/April 1996, p.16

Bike Service: Spring Cleaning
By Heather Nelson

Here are some pointers to help you get your bike ready for the warm weather after a long winter. Of course, if you feel that your bike has serious problems, take it to a good bike shop so a qualified mechanic can fix it.

Wash: Is your bike covered in dirt, grit, salt, and grease? Try warm soapy water, an old toothbrush, and lots of rags. Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap or CintraSolv degreaser will work wonders.

Frame: Check your frame for rust and scratches. To keep rust from spreading, sand down the rust spot until you see healthy steel, then apply nail polish of any color to the exposed area.

Chain: It needs to be clean. Remove it with a chain tool*, soak it overnight in Citra-Solv, and lube it. Let the lube sink in for a few hours, then wipe the chain down and re-install it. Perfectionists can check for chain stretch: if twelve links are longer than a foot, even by a sixteenth of an inch, get a new chain and cassette to ensure proper shifting.

Tires: Check: the entire tire for glass, bald patches, nails, or small tears. Inspect the head (where the tire meets the rim) for wear: is the bead pulling away from the sidewall or sprouting wires?

Wheels: Are they true? Spin your wheel with one hand, watching the space between brake pads and wheel, looking for unevenness. Big wobbles mean you need a mechanic to true the wheel.

Brakes: Check cables for fraying and excessive stretch. Look at the brake pads. Are they wearing evenly?

Pedals: Spin each pedal by hand. If you feel resistance, grating, or cracking, the ball bearings inside should be replaced.

Also Check: hubs, derailleurs, bottom bracket, headset.

*lt's easy to remove a chain! Buy a chain tool at your local bike shop and ask them how to use it.