Whether you’ll be swapping wheels for skis, or continuing to ride through the winter, fall is a great time to give your bike some special attention. If you keep the wheels turning through the cold months, your ride is likely to get pummeled with mud, rain and possibly some snow. And, if you’ll be storing your bike until the crocus pop, taking a few extra steps now will ensure that it is ready to ride again when you are.
Get It Clean
A deep cleaning is a good first step in any bedtime routine – even for a bike. Use a gentle spray from the hose and a nylon bristled brush to get off all grime that has accumulated from your epic season. Avoid any forceful jets of water and do not spray directly into the bottom bracket, headset, or dropper post/stanchion seals. As tempting as it is to get the greasy areas squeaky clean, avoid doing so – they need the grease but you can gently spray and wipe off the excess build up! While cleaning, check your bike carefully, taking note of anything that seems broken, loose or worn out. If anything looks suspect, be proactive and have it checked out and fixed now. Come spring, you and your local shop will be happy you didn’t procrastinate!
Lube it Up
Now that your bike is clean, it’s time to protect it from moisture and harsh winter conditions. Put on a fresh coat of chain lube, and add couple drops to your rear and front derailleur pivots and pulleys, wiping off any excess. This is also a good time to remove your pedals and add some fresh grease to the spindles. If you have a grease gun, and know how to use it, go ahead and apply it to the pivot points of your bike as needed – if this sounds foreign to you, it’s something that your shop can take care of in a full tune-up.
Raise Your Dropper
If you have a dropper post, it has probably served you well all season. Help it help you next year, and store it in its fully upright position. It’s also a good idea to remove the seat post (not the dropper post but the actual seat post that comes out of the frame via the quick release) and clean off the grit and grime. Rub a small amount of grease on the post and replace. Mark the height of the post with a sharpie or tape before removing to ensure it is put back at the correct height.
Pump It Up
It might be tempting to leave your tires low on air and skip the pump this one time. But don’t let your bike down now. If you’ll be storing your rig on the ground, so it’s resting on the wheels, it’s important to keep them under pressure so everything stays smooth and round. Even if you’ll be hanging up your bike, it’s best to keep air in the tires. Make sure your tires are also protected from direct sunlight, which can lead to cracked, oxidized rubber.
Now that your bike is ready for bed, take a few moments to reminisce on your season of fun, and thank it for (almost) always staying upright when you needed it most. You can both rest easy knowing that, should a heat wave hit in February, you’ll both be ready to ride. Otherwise, winter is a great time of year to learn more about bike maintenance. Check out your local shops, or clubs to see if they offer any classes to satiate your psyche while waiting for the white stuff to melt.