Some say bikes are for the summer. The truth is that, for many, the summer season is the excuse to get back on the bike after months of hibernation—stable weather, sunshine, longer days, and heat.
It’s not just about hydration, sun protection, sunglasses, and gear. Your bike should also be ready to handle the characteristics of this time of year. It also suffers from high temperatures, dust, rough terrain (if you’re mountain biking), or direct sunlight.
First of all, the spare parts must be frequently lubricated. It is much more so than at other times of the year if you want to ensure they are working properly.
Other components, such as tires, wheels, or brakes, also change their behavior with heat. It is, therefore, worthwhile to carry out control and preventive maintenance of these parts to prevent them from malfunctioning or breaking down.
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In this post we explain how to get your bike ready for summer so that it will be ready when you need it and won’t require any extra maintenance.
Clean and Grease the Bike
It seems obvious, but when was the last time you cleaned your bike? A complete wash is required if it has been stationary for a long time!
Use a quality bike cleaner and suitable brushes to reach all the elements. Make your bike shine again! Not only will you be able to show it off with pride, but it will also be easier to spot wear and tear, making day-to-day maintenance easier.
The frame, wheels, tires, transmission, etc., must be freed from dust or humidity in the garage before you go back on the road or in the mountains.
Check for visible signs of rust. The chain and brake cables are particularly prone to rust; if they are rusted, they must be replaced without hesitation.
Once cleaned, properly grease all parts of the bike. In particular, the following transmission components:
Winter destroys chains, and old chains destroy transmissions. The chain is one element that suffers the most from wear caused by high temperatures or dust. We recommend cleaning it with a degreaser and lubricating it after each ride.
For the summer, it’s better to use a wax-based lube than an oil-based lube because of its better performance in dry conditions. The wax forms a protective film on the surface of the chain, which repels dust. It also penetrates deeper into the links.
Related article: Wax or oil to lubricate the bicycle chain, which is better?
Use a chain wear tool to see if it’s time to replace the chain. Replacing inexpensive chains more frequently may be more effective than using an expensive chain. It minimizes drivetrain wear and extends the life of components such as the cassette.
Clean and degrease the rear derailleur hanger pulleys well, as these moving parts tend to accumulate a lot of dirt, grease, etc. You can also put a few drops of lubricant (preferably in oil) on the derailleur spring to further protect it, prevent chafing, etc. Repeat the same operation on the moving parts of the front derailleur.
Check for squeaking or creaking noises when pedaling, as the bearings in the crankset may not be greased. It is an element that can accelerate wear.
You will need to dismantle the cranks, take them out with the axle, clean them, and re-lubricate them with grease. This operation is a little more complex than the previous ones, so we recommend that you entrust it to a mechanic. The cleaning and lubricating process usually costs less than 30 euros and results in a quiet and precise transmission.
Pedals are another source of noise, creaking, unwanted friction, and wear. Grease pedals and crank bolts with assembly grease to stop the noise.
Once installed, tighten them slightly, as the total tightening will come from pedaling. Finally, apply a few drops of lubricant to the pedal’s springs if it is a clipless pedal so that the shoes click into place quickly and firmly.
Check Tire Condition and Pressure
Whether on-road or mountain bike, you will ride on asphalt, dry and dusty roads. So make sure your tires are in good condition and their pressure is suitable for this terrain.
What pressure should I use for dry conditions? It is the time to ride with high pressures, especially on the road, because the terrain is better, and there is no risk of encountering wet spots on the descents, mud, dirt, etc.
In mountain biking, you will have to play more with the pressure. The surface of some tracks can be very dry due to high temperatures, and grip can be compromised, especially in the turns. Reducing the pressure by around 0.2 bar from your normal pressure can compensate for this loss of grip, especially if you use dry or semi-slick tires with few studs.
If you are using tubeless tires, change the fluid.
If you’ve left your bike out for the winter and most of the spring and your tires are tubed, check the condition of your tubeless fluid, as it’s likely dried up from lack of movement.
Also, once you’ve changed it, it’s a good idea to replace it mid-summer or within a month of resuming your hikes. Puncture sealants dry out faster than in winter due to high temperatures.
Check Your Brakes (especially disc brakes)
In summer, the brakes tend to overheat and therefore lose their effectiveness. This overheating also accelerates wear. Before the start of summer, it is a good idea to check that the brake pads, if you use rim brakes, and the brake discs and pads are in good condition and present an ideal braking surface. Remember that the brake pad should be at least 1mm thick in its braking track. If not, it will need to be replaced.
Disc brake fluid also loses its properties with heat. Early summer is a perfect time if it’s been a while since you’ve had your brakes bleed. The circuit will have a new fluid, all the properties of which will be intact, guaranteeing optimal braking and sensations.
Dress your bike for summer: handlebar tapes and bottle holders
You can use a general overhaul of your bike to install new accessories that will make your summer rides more bearable.
One of these practical and economical solutions is to change the tape of your road bike’s handlebars for a more adherent and breathable tape. It will prevent you from losing grip on the handlebars with sweat and increase the risk of falling, especially when descending passes. The most recommended for this are those made of gel or silicone, with small holes in the band. Brands such as Jagwire or Prologo have these models in their catalog.
You can also add an extra bottle holder to your bike if it has a mount. Having two bottle holders at this time of year is very handy, as it allows you to carry an extra supply. You can also have a bottle of water and an isotonic bottle, which is ideal for extra energy and to avoid dehydration.
Finally, summer is also a good time for cycling late in the day, even at night. Many mountain bikers take advantage of the cooler temperatures at night to train and plan a fun and adrenaline-filled rides. You should get a front and rear light if you are one of them.
In addition to your safety, you must turn on both lights to comply with traffic laws. The current highway code prohibits the circulation of bicycles without lighting at night, either one or both, under penalty of a fine of 200 euros.
There are bicycle lights of all types and light intensities on the market. Many even incorporate a battery inside the headlight to avoid weighing down the frame. The headlight must be fixed to the handlebars and have a white light.
The rear light must always be red, fixed or flashing, and installed under the saddle or the seat post. The rear light is very important to be seen by other vehicles on the road.