Today we are going to have fun riding our bikes. Riding a bicycle can be a fun way to meet your fitness goals! Before we get started, it’s important to check to make sure our bike is in tip-top shape, so let’s go over some basic maintenance.

After getting our bikes out of where you store it, first look over the tires, brakes, chain, and check the gears. You will need a few items for this: an air pump, pressure gauge if there isn’t one on your pump, paper towel or a cloth rag, and chain lubricant. Chain lubricant can be found at all cycling shops.

If there isn’t one near you, you can always order it online. Chain lubricant isn’t necessary, but it will help to keep your bike it tip-top shape.

First step: checking your tire pressure

First you will want to check the air in your tires. To do this, look at your tire to find out what kind of valve you have for filling. There are 3 kinds of valve stems for filling air: Schrader, Presta, and Woods ( Dunlop).  The most common is the Schrader. Presta valves are generally found on higher end bikes. Woods or Dunlop valve is found only in the Netherlands and in Asian countries.

Knowing what kind of valve you have will help you fill your tires and replace your tube if necessary. Now that we know what kind of valve we have, let’s check air pressure. If you plan on riding on the road, concrete or gravel, you will want more air in your tires.

On your tire, it will tell you what the recommended air pressure is. Most of the time this is around 60 psi or 413 kpa. Look on the tire near the valve stem. Once you find it attach your pump to the valve and start filling. Most pumps will have a gauge on it tell you what pressure you are at.  Stop when you hit the recommended pressure.

Second step: lubricating your bike chain.

Get your rag or paper towel and hold it under your bike chain. Next take the Lubricant and squeeze it on to the chain under the rag. Now hold the rag around the chain and pedal backward with your other hand on the pedal. This will run the lubricant around the whole chain.

Third step: adjusting your seat.

You might need someone to hold your handlebars while you are figuring this out. When you get on your bike you want to be able to touch the ground while sitting on the seat, but you don’t want it to be too low. Have a friend hold your handlebars. Get on your seat and put your feet on the pedals. When your leg is extended, you want to have a slight bend in the leg. You only want one leg to have 90 deg bend at one time.  If both legs are bent too much or not enough, you will want to adjust the height of your seat. Too much bend you will want to drop the seat, not enough bend raise the seat.

Fourth and final step: get on your bike and take a ride.

Through out the next few weeks, we will be looking at a few aspects of cycling.  Next week will be getting out and riding on our roads or bike paths safely. Enjoy the ride!