With spring upon the country, virtually everyone is anxious to get outdoors and start enjoying their favorite recreational activity. For many people, this means getting on their bicycle and hitting the road. Before heading for the trails, though, take an hour first to give your bike a spring tune-up.

Find a Clean Area to Work on the Bike

This can be your garage or a flat area outside. Being near a water source will add extra convenience. Lay down a plastic tarp or, at the very least, a piece of cardboard. Remove the wheels and turn the bike over, steadying it on its seat and handlebars or balancing it in a bicycle prop stand. This can be found for a reasonable price at any bike shop.

Wash the Bike

A tune-up basically entails a good cleaning, lubrication, and minor adjustments. Begin with cleaning it first. Skip the urge to grab the garden hose and use the power trigger nozzle. Pressure washing your bike may make short work of washing it, but then you will just have to spend more time lubricating the bearings in the bottom bracket, headset, pedals, and hubs. Additionally, too forceful of a water blast can ruin your paint job and remove decals.

Instead, fill a 5-gallon bucket with water, preferably warm, a few drops of grease-cutting dishwashing soap, a couple on sponges, and a small dishwashing brush. Start by just dumping the first bucket evenly over the bike. Allow the water to soak on the bike while you get your second bucket of water ready. Letting it sit for five minutes will loosen any caked on dirt and grime before you start gently sponging it clean.

Work from top to bottom, and front to back. Don't forget to wash the tires as well. Use one sponge for the majority of the bike, but switch to the second sponge to clean the drivetrain parts. You want to use separate sponges so you don't get your handlebars, seat, pedals, and frame greasy.

Rinse and Dry the Bike

When you have finished washing your bicycle, grab a fresh bucket of cool water and thoroughly rinse everything. You may need two or three buckets to remove any last bit of soap residue. Once everything is rinsed, use a soft chamois cloth to dry and polish everything. If you leave it just to air dry, you will end up with water spots.

Lubricate the Parts

Use bicycle grease to oil the chain, derailleur, and any other parts specific to your bike that require lubrication. Replace the wheels, checking to ensure they are in good condition and inflated to the correct gauge.

If you notice any issues while you are washing the bike, such as a rusty or loose chain or the brake cables are cracked and worn, take your bike to a bicycle repair shop like Sarasota Cyclery Inc for a thorough checkup. You can also get some added accessories while you are there to make bike riding even more enjoyable.