Get in gear: How to get your bike road-ready this season

A cyclist on Washington Avenue
A cyclist headed down Washington Avenue in downtown Minneapolis, March 13, 2015.
Courtesy Patrick Stephenson

As we head into the height of biking season in the Twin Cites, two cycling experts joined MPR News' Tom Weber to discuss maintenance, tips for new bikers and help planning spring trips.

Interview highlights

If you rode your bike all winter, have a mechanic check it out.

The salt and moisture from the roads can cause corrosion and build up that should be cleaned. It's best to make sure all elements of your bike are safe for riding.

If your bike was in storage this winter, go through a safety check and cleanup:

• Casey Wollschlaeger said the biggest mistake is riding your bike before inflating the tires.

• It's also good to do a rattle test: Drop your bike from a couple inches off the ground. If you hear any rattling, bring it in to a bike shop.

Lube it up: Wollschlaeger says it's important to wipe off any debris and dirt that built up on your chains. Then add a lubricant and wife off excess.

Want to learn how to do repairs yourself?

There's a class for that. You can also go on rides or take classes to help improve your road biking and safety skills. Begej also recommends stopping by a community bike shop with your bike. Mechanics will walk you through repairs so you can learn as you go.

Want to learn at home?

The guests recommend learning a skill like fixing a flat. With tutorials online, you can take your time and try it on your own. Once you have practice, you should be able to fix a flat in eight minutes.

Check out more videos here.

Avoid glass and other tire-killers, but only when it's safe to do so.

Don't veer into car traffic to avoid shards of glass. If you end up going through it, Wollschlaeger recommends pulling over to brush off or dislodge any pieces stuck in the rubber part of your tire.

Hate greasy hands from doing repairs?

Try applying lotion to your hands first. Other options: Lava soap, dish soap or brown sugar in a pinch.

Thinking about a new ride? You have options.

Consider upgrading elements of your bike if your frame is in good shape. Many local bike shops offer reasonably priced used bikes that you could add accessories or upgrade some parts.

Get a refresher on biking laws.

For safety, it's best to find roads with dedicated bike lanes or a shared lane, but you are legally allowed to take a full lane too. Taking the full lane keeps you away from parked cars where you can be doored and also keeps your riding consistent and predictable for drivers. If you're planning to ride on roads with fast traffic, try to find a route with wider and safe shoulders.

Listen to MPR News' Pedal Hub podcast.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.