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It’s time for some winter bicycle maintenance

Friday, January 8, 2021 by Katie Vogel

Whether you got a bike in this year’s bicycle boom, or you’re still relying on your trusted steed, winter riding can be rough on your bicycle’s components. Salt, slush, rain, and cold aren’t exactly a bicycle’s best friend.

Whether riding in the woods or on the streets, your bike needs a little extra TLC in the winter

Dom LoPresti, co-owner of Spun Bicycles in Northside said “just as your body is fighting the elements in the winter, so is your bike. The best thing you can do for your bike in the winter is to keep the drive train and brakes clean. It’ll save you so much money in repairs and upkeep. Just clean it once a week and clean it well.”

Cleaning your bicycle isn’t rocket science, but it might require a few tools you can pick up at your local bike shop and hardware store. Don’t feel like tackling a serious cleaning by yourself or just feeling a little overwhelmed by your filthy bicycle? Keep it simple and schedule a tune-up at your local bike shop.

But if you’re game for a bit of DIY-bicycle-improvement, Mobo Bicycle Co-op Board Chair Nate Kemphues has some DIY tips for new and seasoned bicyclists.

Like LoPresti, Kemphues suggests wiping your bike down every time you take it out in inclement weather. Wipe down rims with a bit of rubbing alcohol and a clean rag or paper towel to ensure a clean and smooth surface for braking. Make sure that there’s no rocks or gunk stuck on your brake pads. Then wipe off your chain thoroughly with a rag and re-lube it. Degreasing a chain can be a fair bit of work, but keeping it clean with chain lube does “a pretty good job of preventing your chain from stretching out and ruining your drivetrain.”

No matter how great your maintenance regimen is, remember that you’ll need to replace your chain periodically.

Kemphues also suggests considering lowering your tire pressure for more traction Just beware that if you let it get too low, you can get a pinch flat: “It’s never fun to get a flat in the summer. It’s twice as annoying in the winter when your hands are cold.”

It’s not just preventative maintenance that matters in the winter. Safety and visibility are even more important when daylight hours are shorter, said Kemphues: “The most important accessory you can have on a bicycle is good lights, front and rear. Being seen is one of your best bets for staying safe.”

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