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Bikexchange logo, link to Home    Getting Your Bike Ready for    Bikexchange logo, link to Home

By Dave Krupa

This article originally appeared in the Cycling Circular, the newsletter of the Western Pennsylvania Wheelmen.

Note: This is preferably done with the bike in a work stand or with the bike suspended so the pedals and the tires spin free.


Check the tires for dry rot, cuts, and wear. If you have used the bike on a wind trainer over winter, the rear tire may have developed a flat spot from the roller. Inflate tires to the manufacturer's recommended pressure.


Spin the wheels while watching the gap between the rim and the brake shoe. If the rim has a noticeable wobble or an up-and-down movement, the rim needs to be trued. If you are uncomfortable truing wheels or have never attempted this, take them to a shop.

Inspect the rims for wear and cracks. Rims that are severely worn have a shallow "U" shape.


Grab the wheel at the top and shake side to side. If there is noticeable play, the hubs need to be adjusted. If the wheel seems rough when spinning, the bearings may need to be repacked.


Rotate the pedals while shifting the derailleurs. Make sure with each index that the chain is moving to its proper sprocket. If not, adjust accordingly with the barrel adjuster.

To lube the derailleur housing, shift to the largest cog on the rear cogset. Without spinning the pedals, shift the rear derailleur all the way down so the cable will slacken. You can remove the rear housing at the rear derailleur without loosening the fixing bolt and ruining the adjustment. Spray housing and cable with Tri-flow or compatible lube.


Clean with a non-volatile, citrus based degreaser. Chain cleaners are nice, but a brush and rags work as well. Let chain dry and lube with your favorite lubricant.

Measure chain length. A 12" section (with the slack pulled out) should measure exactly 12" from pin center to pin center. Replace at 12 1/8".

If you replace the chain, replace the rear cogset and possibly the front small and middle chainrings (on a triple).


Grab one of the arms and shake side to side. If there is a noticeable play, have the bottom bracket adjusted. If it is a cartridge (as most new bikes have), the cartridge may need to be replaced. Spin the cranks backwards and check for any roughness in the bearings. If it feels rough or if it wobbles, the bottom bracket may need to be re-greased.


Check that the brakes are even on both sides of the rim at the same time. Check the brake pads for wear and replace if needed. Brake surfaces should be 1-2 mm from the rim as a starting point.


While holding the front brake on, rock the bike back and forth. Any noticeable play will mean the headset needs to be adjusted.

Inspect the frame for any cracks, stress marks, and fatigue. On steel frames, check for rust spots and touch up if possible.

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