How to Give Your Bike a Tune-Up

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Spring is here! And that means it’s time to dust off the bike and start pedaling. Here are a few tips on how to give your bike a maintenance check before you ride.

Maintain proper tire pressure

Always inflate bicycle tires to the recommended air pressure (as noted on the tire’s sidewall). Some tires can handle an inflation range. When inflating these types of tires consider the rider’s weight, as well as any loads that may be carried. Higher pressure gives better performance on pavement and other hard surfaces, while lower pressure works better for off-road rides. Gas station air hoses may inflate a bicycle tire too rapidly and often give inaccurate tire-pressure readings, which can result in a blowout. Whenever possible, use a manual hand- or foot-operated pump with an accurate gauge. It’s also a good idea to pack a good air pressure gauge whenever you go out for a ride; choose one that can read up to 120 psi (pounds per square inch).

Check your brakes

It’s a good idea to regularly inspect your brakes before you go for a ride. Squeeze each brake lever toward the handlebar to make sure the break moves freely and stops the bike. If the break lever reaches the handlebar, it needs to be tightened. Now, check out the brake pads: They should be about 1/16 to 1/8 inches away from the rim when the brakes are not applied — if you can stick a matchbook cover between the rim and brake, your brakes are not properly adjusted.

Preserve your bike chain

Want to extend the life of your bicycle chain? Lay off the oil. Yep, you heard that right. Machine oil does a fine job lubricating bike chains, but it also attracts dirt and debris that could wind up damaging them. Instead, use a dry chain lubricant. It will keep your chain running smoothly without sucking up dirt. You can buy dry lubricants at most bike shops.

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