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Happy Spring Everybody!

Brooklyn Fit Chick here and I am so excited for the upcoming spring season and the opportunity to get back on my bike outside once again (it’s been too long, folks!)

Every year about this time I take my own road bike “Trixie” to 9th Street Cycles for a tune-up and it got me thinking about what I can do on my own to get her ready for the road all year round. So who better than Bicycling magazine’s Executive Editor Leah Flickinger can offer us all this sound advice?

Here are a few tips from Leah on what we can all do to get our bikes ready to rock:


Wipe it down with a clean, damp cloth. As you wipe the frame, use the opportunity to inspect it for nicks, cracks, or other damage. Pay close attention to chain stays where damage can occur when a chain accidentally gets jammed.


Dirty rims can reduce stopping power. Scrub with a clean rag and mild dish detergent and water. Rinse, then dry. Spin each wheel and check for wobbling. If they wobble, take them to a shop to get trued (a process in which a mechanic adjusts tension in the spokes so the wheel rolls straight).

BRAKES (assuming rim brakes)

Wipe down brake pads with a clean rag, dislodge any crud or buildup, and check them for wear. Pads usually have grooves; when they begin to disappear, it’s time to replace the pads. Spin each wheel and listen for rubbing. If you hear it, adjust the calipers so the pad doesn’t rub. (It’s usually pretty easy to do this manually just by moving the calipers gently.)


Apply degreaser to the chain, scrub it with a clean rag or toothbrush, allow to air dry. Apply a drop of lube to each link/pin (turn the cranks in reverse to get a full rotation). Soak up excess lube by holding a clean rag to the chain and spinning the cranks backward. Then, with your chain in the large ring and smallest cog, use a 12-inch ruler to measure a 24-link section of chain from pin to pin. If it measures 12 1/8″ or more, the chain is worn and you should replace it.


Deflate the tire to about half its pressure. Look for cuts in the sidewalls or treads. If you find any that go either through the tire or are deep enough to make you anxious, replace the tire. For knobby tires: If five or more treads are ripped away, the tire will likely fail and should be replaced.

Want to troubleshoot and tackle additional repairs on your own? Check out repair tips and videos or pick up a copy of Bicycling’s Essential Road Bike Maintenance Handbook (available at

That’s all for me this month. Looking forward to checking in with all of you soon!


Brooklyn Fit Chick



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