Getting Your Bike Ready For Spring

Getting Your Bike Ready For Spring

Spring ride downtown

Before You Ride

If your bike had a long winter rest, like mine, it is really important to do some basic things to get it ready to ride, before you get on. If you have a child, there's a few other things to check with their bikes. Doing these things can save you a significant amount of difficulty, and possibly avoid injuries, too. 

Bike check

Bike Checkup (Adult)

The most obvious thing to check on your bike is the condition of the wheels. There's a few things to check:
  • condition of the tire: check for cracks, remaining tread
  • condition of the rim: check for dents, bends, significant rust
  • condition of the spokes: check for bent, broken, loose spokes
  • valve: check that it's sticking straight out of the rim, not bent, and has a cover
  • air: check the air pressure and inflate to the recommendation on the side of the tire.
While you're inspecting the wheels, take note of the size of the wheel embossed on the rubber and, if the wheel uses a tube, double check that you have the correct size and valve type as a replacement.

Bike Checkup (Child)

Bike Fit
The first thing to do to prepare your child's bike for the season is to make sure it fits! Children grow quickly and often outgrow a bike every year until they're 9 or older, so it's important to make sure you're not squishing them onto a too-small bike. However, it's also important that a bike not be too big, for them to "grow into."

A bike is too big if:
  • there is less than the child's hand width between the crotch and the top tube of the bike, when the child is standing (in shoes) over the bike frame, in front of the seat
  • the child can't touch the ground at all when the seat is all the way down; for a child who is inexperienced or new to riding, they should be able to touch with at least the balls of their feet, or have their feet flat on the ground when seated
  • the child has difficulty holding on to both hand grips when the handlebar is turned significantly (either way).
It is dangerous to allow a child to ride a bike that is too big for them. 

A bike is too small if: 
  • the markings on the seat post indicating minimum insertion are exposed AND the child's feet are flat on the ground when seated on the seat
  • the child is unable to turn the handlebar significantly without hitting their knees into it while pedalling.

Your child may have difficulty riding a bike that's too small for them, or experience back pain, leg cramps or other physical discomfort while riding. 

When checking your child's bike for fit, put your child in regular shoes, and look carefully for the markings on the seat post. At the beginning of the season, having approximately 2-3cm of available height adjustment on the seat is a good indication that the bike should fit through the year, depending on the type of bike, experience level and age of your child. If there's less than this, your child may need a new bike before the end of the season, and if there's more (but the bike isn't too big), you may get more than 1 season out of it. This is an extremely rough guide and should never be taken as a rule.

If in doubt as to whether a bike fits your child, take it and your child to a bike shop for a professional opinion. 
Bike check
Bike check

Spring Cleaning

Whether a child or adult bike, if it's been resting for the winter, give it a bath and get it all cleaned up for spring. Adjust the gears, if applicable & necessary, and check all cables, too. 

If you're not sure how to do any of this, you can watch any of the videos on the Bike Maintenance page, or take your bike to a professional for assistance (numerous listings on the maintenance page). 


Preparing for biking season isn't very complicated, time consuming or costly, but doing so could save you significant headache, delay and expense. If in doubt, check with your local bike shop: it may be busy now, but it's still worth the wait! 

Teaching season is almost here and you can be sure that I'll be ready! 

- Melissa Malejko, Owner of Safer Cycling Calgary