From the Mechanic’s Bench: DIY Spring Tune-Up


During the winter months, our mechanics will be providing blog readers with maintenance and mechanics articles on different skills, knowledge, and tips for safe riding.

In this article, Andrew Magill suggests how to get your bike (or trike) ready for spring riding–DIY style.


Here are some suggestions for checking and preparing your bicycle for spring riding. They apply equally to bicycles which have not been ridden over the winter, those which have been ridden over the winter, or a “new to you” bike that has not been repaired by a pro.

You can do these checks at home, at a C4C Open Shop night, a Grease Rag FTW-only Open Shop night, or take your bike to our retail service department for a free check and labor/replacement parts quote. Open Shop, Grease Rag, and Retail are available at both shop locations.

Essential Checklist:

  • Lightly clean the entire frame and fork of the bike and look for serious rust and dents or cracks. Pay special attention to higher stress areas including the fork, headtube, chainstays, and bottom bracket area (you are not likely to find anything, but it’s good to check).
  • Check tires and wheels: add air to the tires so they are within the PSI range printed on the tire’s sidewall. Check tire condition–look for worn-out tread, cuts, or cracking sidewalls.  
  • Check that the wheels spin freely and are true (wheels that are true do not have large wobbles as they spin). Check that the wheels are secured in the frame properly.
  • Clean and lubricate the chain.
  • Check that the brakes securely stop both wheels and that the brake lever is not hitting the handlebars before the brake system stops the wheel.
  • Check the seat height (for most folks the seat should reach their pants’ side pocket area as they stand next to the bike).
  • Do a short test ride in a safe area where to test the brakes, shifting, steering, and to ensure smooth pedaling.

Important Checklist:

  • Check brake pads for wear and braking system for proper adjustment by spinning the wheel and squeezing the brake. Check the condition of the brake cables and housing.
  • Check the sides of the wheels for rim wear and look for any broken spokes.
  • Check the bearing systems for proper adjustment and wear/contamination.
  • Try to move the wheel from side to side in the frame. Spin the wheel. There should not be any movement (but there may be a slight amount of wheel flex). A loose or a grinding hub needs service.
  • Grab the crankarms and try to move them side to side. If they are able to move sideways, the bottom bracket will need adjusting or replacing. Check that the cranks and pedals spin freely.
  • Check headset bearing adjustment/condition.
  • Check chain for wear/stretch by using a chain checker. Inspect the teeth of the front chain rings for wear or damage.
  • Lubricate derailleur cables and derailleurs while testing for proper shifting (ability to reach all gears and no dropped chains).
  • Check condition of shift cables and housing.
  • Remove, clean, and grease seat post with the appropriate lubricant.
  • Check condition of bar tape or grips.

Checklist for accessories, if any:  

  • Are the bolts for racks, fenders, light mounts, or water bottle cages tight?
  • Are the lights and lock functioning?
  • Do you have the accessories you need (such as a rack or a basket for carrying things with you when you ride)
  • Do you have clothing to keep you comfortable and visible when you ride?
  • If wearing a helmet (recommended!), check the condition of it.
  • We have a variety of new and used accessories at both shop locations.

Okay, grab a snack and head out for a ride!

C4C Retail and Open Shop mechanics are always here for you–come visit us (especially if you just baked cookies)!