More bicycles are bought in the UK than cars yet almost half end up lying unused in sheds and garages. Reports reveal that the use of bikes has been on the increase in recent years yet still there are millions of bicycles languishing in people’s garages and sheds. But with spring on the way and the promise of some fairer weather, now is the time to get your bike out the shed and back on the road. Cycling is a fantastic way to keep fit and it offers a cheaper and far greener form of transport. Cycling is also sociable and with numerous off-road routes around the UK, it’s a safe and enjoyable form of exercise for all the family.
Before jumping back in the saddle, it’s important to give your bike a good check over. As bike mechanic Nick Green says: “A winter spent in the shed or garage can play havoc with your bike and its components. It will probably have an unhealthy rusty tinge because of the damp winter air. The tyres will have long since have deflated and parts that used to turn will be stubbornly solid.”
For those cyclists who have determinedly cycled though the winter, a bike safety check over is also vital. Nick adds: “Water, grit and salt from the roads make a grinding paste that eats through seals, washes away lubrication and turns metal components to a rough, rusty mess. Riding in low light conditions makes the water-filled potholes hard to spot and your battered wheels will be somewhat less than round.”
Now you have an idea where the problems may lie. Whether you tackle the work yourself or take it to a professional depends on your experience and confidence, and how well equipped you are with your own tools. Modern bikes are highly engineered and require good quality tools to do jobs properly. If you are entrusting your life to a machine, which will carry you along at speeds more than 30mph, repairs and maintenance must be carried out to a proper standard.
There are however jobs that can be done by cyclists of any level that will go a long way to keeping the bike running smoothly.
Clean the bike with hot water and car shampoo, then rinse in clean hot water. Dry with paper towels or rags, cleaning oil and muck from the chain, gears and brakes.
So if you’re planning to cycle through the spring and summer, now is the time to get your bike in good working order. Then, when the good weather arrives, you will be out on the road when everyone else is queuing at the bike shop.
Thanks to Nick Green of Hammer & Cycle mobile bike mechanics for his advice and comments.