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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Spring Repairs + Bicycle Mechanic Cartoon

It is only March, but Spring seems to have come early in Toronto / 2012.

I blame global warming and climate change.

The birds pecking at my window and the light waking me up early on a Saturday... so much for sleeping in!

Kudos to those crazy cyclists who keep cycling all winter long, but for the majority of people Spring is the time to Spring Clean and repair your bicycle.

Especially if you left your bicycle outside in a snowbank all winter long.


#1. Refill the tires. They're probably looking kinda flat, and even if they don't give them a top-up to the proper PSI. Don't overfill them however, use a pressure gauge, read the PSI requirements on the side of the tire and fill accordingly. Overfilling the tires can cause them to burst at the worst possible moment and have "catastrophic wheel failure"...

#2. Clean all the rust off the chain. Most bicycle shops don't sell stuff for removing rust (too many people are afraid of accidentally removing paint) so you may need to visit a hardware store to buy some CLR to remove the rust. Remember to wear latex gloves and avoid contact with your eyes because its very acidic. I recommend brushing the CLR on with a wire brush.

You may also need to degrease your bicycle chain and then add fresh oil. Be sure to use environmentally friendly bicycle oil. WD40 will only make your chain worse because WD40 collects dirt and the next thing you know your chain is full of grit.

#3. Check the brakes are in perfect working order. I like having perfectly tuned brakes. Check your brake levers too.

#4. Check your shifters are working too. (If they are not working properly I should warn you this isn't a skill normally taught to beginners, so either consult Barnett's Manual or visit your local bicycle mechanic. Note to Self: Make A Comprehensive Guide for Adjusting Shifters.)

#5. Adjust the handlebars and/or seat height, especially if you or your kids are growing. It is also possible you may just want to set it to a more comfortable level.

#6. Take it for a quick spin and make sure everything else is in working order. ie. The handlebars might be a bit stiff.

You could be extra paranoid and take your bike in to your local bicycle mechanic for a complete tune up. Spring is the BUSIEST time of the year for bicycle shops, so be prepared for a long wait. As in, weeks or even a month before you get the call saying you bike is tuned. Ask for a time estimate.

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About the Author

Charles Moffat is equal parts bicycle mechanic, cyclist, painter, sculptor, fantasy writer, poet, website designer and pun maker. For more details see



Do you own a bike shop and are looking to hire a bicycle mechanic in North America? Just email me with the job posting details and I will post it for you. (Also, please let me know when the job has been filled so I can update the posting.)


If your bicycle is basically junk and you don't know what to do with it then SELL IT TO ME. I will use it for parts. I will give you a fair price ($20 to $30) for your old clunker just so I can rip it apart for parts.

If you need repairs check out my Bicycle Mechanic Services in Banbury-Don Mills.