Adios winter, hello Spring.  Time to switch gears and get back on the bikes, but before you do, make sure that you’re well-oiled and ready to ride.  MyNorth picked up a wrench alongside mechanic Travis Cole of Traverse City’s Brick Wheels to find out just what should be on early season cycling checklists.

MyNorth: What is the most important thing to look at when getting your bike out for the first time this season?

Brick Wheels: Your tires.  Where we live, dry rot most often occurs in the winter, so in addition to adding air—because your tires will almost always need it after being stored for a few months—make sure you check the sidewalls.  If it looks like they are degrading, get in and have them looked at before doing any serious riding.

MyNorth:  How important are tune-ups?  Should they be done every year?

Brick Wheels: Most bike shops—including ours—do a free inspection.  I’d recommend people do that each year, specifically to look at things like cables and housing, which should be replaced annually if you ride a lot.  Also, people don’t typically do a lot of maintenance on their chains, and don’t realize that chains last 500-1,200 miles depending on the rider.  Some people don’t realize how much they have ridden and are shocked when their chain needs replacing after a year.  It’s good to know what shape your components are in when you start every season.

MyNorth:  What do cyclists need to stock up on before they hit the pavement or the dirt?

Brick Wheels: We know most people don’t do repairs themselves, but we do suggest riding with a basic multi-tool kit, so that you can tighten things like handlebars or saddles as they come loose. And if there is one skill I would tell everyone to learn, it would be to know how to fix a flat tire and carry a flat kit.  Flat tires happen all the time.

MyNorth: Best advice for early season riding?

Brick Wheels: Be mindful of spring conditions.  For road riders, remember the roads are still dirty. We haven’t had a lot of rain to clean them up, which means flat tires are going to happen more often.  For mountain bikers, I’d say try to avoid riding on wet trails.  We all know our ecosystem is fragile, and when trails are ridden on when they are wet early in the season, they get sandy a lot faster.

Brick Wheels hosts weekly mini bike maintenance schools throughout the spring.  Call for information 231-947-4274.