Family Bike Maintenance for Spring

Do you need to do some family bikes maintenance after a Winter stored in the shed? Are the kids itching to get out on their bikes but you really need to check the brakes and raise the saddle? Never fear, we are here with a definitive guide to sorting out the family bikes ready for the better weather.

Family Bike Maintenance for the Spring

Just keeping the family bikes in great condition is really simple and there are just a few things you need to check to ensure the bikes are safe and road worthy.

Muc off1. Hose Down and Clean Up

If you have managed to get out on your bikes with the kids over the Winter, it’s likely that the bikes are now covered in mud and dirt. That’s to be expected, and the sign of a good outing! You do need to clean this all off though, to ensure the bike stays in tip-top condition. We have a good selection of bike cleaning kits available in the shop.

If you’re really serious about cleaning up your bike, and you have done some pretty serious cycling over the Winter, this video has some great tips.

2. Check for Size

What do we mean here? Well get the children to hop on their bikes and check how much they’ve grown. You’ll be surprised how much the saddle and handlebars need adjusting! When kids are learning to ride, it’s important for them to be able to put their feet flat on the ground to aid balance, but as they get more proficient you can raise the saddle so they just have their tip toes on the floor. If you want more precision, take a look at this saddle height calculator for more information.

3. Puncture Repairs

bicycle-tires-236931_640It’s likely that when you haul the bikes out of the shed, at least one of them will have a puncture. If you’re lucky and they don’t, you still need to check the tyres and pump them up correctly. Invest in a few puncture repair accessories so you always have the correct parts to hand, and for a step by step guide check out this great guide from Rutland cycling. Be careful not to over-inflate the tyres, as this can make the ride uncomfortable and dangerous, in fact. Identify the correct tyre pressure, which is usually written on the side of the tyre or from the manufacturer’s handbook, then removed the dust caps from the valve and attach the pump. Start pumping, and remember to test the tyre pressure once you’ve finished to ensure the correct levels. Then replace the dust caps and make them finger tight.

4. Brakes

Check the brakes pads are properly aligned, and are hitting the bike rim evenly. Inspect the brake pads and ensure there’s nothing embedded in them. Use a knife or sharp object to remove any dust and so prevent the pads becoming unduly worn, or the grit scratching the rims.

5. Oil the Chain

Finally, take a good look at the chain and apply the appropriate lubricant. Use a lightweight oil specially designed for bikes but if you’re not sure, drop us a line and we can help.

So now the bikes are all ready for the Spring! We hope you have a great time out on the bikes with your family.

Do you have any other family bike maintenance tips?

Fenwick’s Bike Cleaner Products

I love cleaning my bike… er, nope. Got that wrong, sorry. I hate cleaning my bike. That’s better. It’s just so fiddly and oily and often painful. If I didn’t have to, I’d never bother. But if you want a bike that works, then you really should clean it. Regularly.

So, if there is a product or two out there that can make the tedious job of bike cleaning that bit easier I’m interested.

Which brings me nicely to these two offerings from Fenwick’s (not the department store in Newcastle before you ask). I tested the FS1 Bike Cleaner Concentrate and Foaming Chain Cleaner at the same time on the same muddy bike (a Giant Anthem I’d just tested) because that’s precisely how they are supposed to be used. I didn’t apply any scientific methodology to this process. There was no comparison against other brands or good old fashioned liquid soap. The only criteria I used were: did it work and was it easier than the aforementioned household detergent.

bike cleaner

The FS1 Bike Cleaner Concentrate can be used in one of two ways; neat and a degreaser or diluted as a cleaner. This I like. Two uses from one product. I used it in the dilute form and as the directions suggested, put the mix into a bottle and sprayed the bike with it. I should mention that I first hosed off the worst of the mud and grit. I only need a cleaner to get off the stuff that plain water can’t, plus this is how I’d always clean a muddy bike. Did it work? Well, the remaining muck didn’t exactly fall off of it’s own accord. After spraying and waiting I rubbed the frame and rims down with a sponge and then hosed it off again. The results were pleasing and it didn’t feel like too much effort was expended. I even tried it on my car’s alloy wheels – seemed quite good on them too. Bonus.

foaming cleaner 2

The Foaming Chain Cleaner was a different story. I’m always suspicious of a “spray on wash off” promise of cleanliness, especially when it comes to something as greasy as a chain. I also encountered some difficulty in trying to get the foam where I wanted it. The can is pressurised, so the contents comes out like silly-string and the immediately begins expanding. In a matter of seconds I had large globs of pink foam all over the place and not much on the chain. After leaving it the required amount of time I hosed it off to reveal…. a chain that appeared fairly similar to when I started. As I suspected, without the use of any implements the foam hadn’t really done much. In it’s defence, it does say best results are achieved when used with the Fenwick’s chain cleaning tool. Fair enough, I didn’t have one but it would seem that it needs it.

chain cleaner

All in all, I’d give the FS1 Cleaner a 4 out of 5. It seems to do a decent job when diluted. I’m hoping this means it would work well as a concentrated degreaser too. I may have to report back on that. The Foaming Chain Cleaner was very entertaining to use but didn’t work too well without any brush or similar tool. So I can only give it a 2 out of 5. Both these products are environmentally friendly, in that they aren’t full of harmful chemicals. This is why the foaming cleaner got 2 and not 1 out of 5.

Written by Henry Aarvold, family bike guy.