Photo by Justin A. Levine
High Peaks Cyclery owner Brian Delaney cleans a chain outside of his shop in Lake Placid.
 
View similar articles:
By Location:
Lake PlacidSaranac LakeTupper Lake
By Category:
Health & FitnessNature/Wildlife
 

With the "winter that wasn't" officially over, thoughts have shifted from skiing to biking. And just like your body, your bike will likely need a tune-up before going too hard this spring.

There are a variety of options when it comes to getting your bike ready, and according to two Lake Placid bike shop owners, it doesn't matter where your bike came from, what brand it is or even how many wheels it has, some things are the same.

Regardless of the type of bike you have and how much you ride it, there are some simple things to do at home before you go out for a ride for the first time this year.

"What you want to do to start off the season is check your tires," Kenny Boettger, who owns Placid Planet Bicycles in Lake Placid said. "We sort of forget about them. Age and weather checking and dry rot will affect the lifespan of them and you don't want to be left high and dry far from home, with no cell service."

Boettger, along with Brian Delaney, who owns High Peaks Cyclery, stress that cleanliness is key. For those who don't have the budget for a professional tune up, both shop owners have the same advice. Something as simple as lubing the chain and gears and wiping the bike down after a ride will help with the longevity of your bike. While you go through the quick cleaning process, look at the cables on the bike for bends, pinches and fraying. Check out the brake pads and make sure that your seat, handlebars and quick-release levers are all tight.

"Clean it. Clean it. Nothing better than cleaning it," Boettger laughed. "It's basically free, it's just elbow grease and a little bit of solvent and some lubricant. You can make it nicer, quieter and work a lot better, and see if you have any significant issues. Cleaning it is the best thing to do to keep your bike lasting a long time."

For those with a little bit of a budget, both shops offer basic tune-ups for about $45. That will include a cleaning as well as checking all the cables, housings, chain and gears. They will also make sure that your handlebars, seat and quick-release wheel skewers are tight.

"First thing we do is clean it, give it a wipe down," Delaney said. "Then, after assessment we'll take it for a ride in the parking lot to see if it skips or jumps."

Delaney said that if someone can't pay for a tune-up, most bike shops will still help them out by showing how to check for tightness of key parts.

"It's almost like a little community," Delaney said. "We're friendly to everyone."

But for those with a few bucks to spend on their bike, the shops offer a variety of services that will improve both you and your bike's performance.

"I recommend changing your cables and housings every other year," Delaney said. "Generally, if something isn't working, (if) it's not shifting, it's because the cables are shot."

"Look for frayed cables that are ready to break," Boettger added. "It's a lot of common sense, a good visual inspection just so it doesn't self-destruct when you least expect it.

Boettger recommends getting a bike fit when increasing your mileage or after a couple years of riding.

"We do a bike fit on everything we sell," Boettger said. "But people change. If you were 100 pounds heavier when you bought your bike, then things change a lot."

A bike fit gives the rider a more efficient position on the bike, and includes adjusting the height of the seat and handlebars, as well as where on the bike you sit.

Delaney and Boettger both said that it doesn't matter if you bought your bike at their shops or at a department store, they will be happy to help a bike rider be safe and ready for the year.

"We fix pretty much anything," Boettger laughed. "Whether it's got two wheels or three wheels or four wheels. Or Mirror Lake boat rentals' aqua bikes!"

Both men said a spring cleaning is key, but the most important thing is to just get out and enjoy the ride.