Simple Checklist: Get Your Bike Ready for Spring

All winter, your bike has sat, neglected and lonely, in a darkened garage. But spring is in the air, and before that first ride (or as a thank you for a winter of faithful service) you need to give your trusty steed some love.

Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance
Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance

Get your bike ready for smooth riding this spring with this helpful bike maintenance checklist from Lennard Zinn, author of Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance:

  • Wash off winter salt, sand, and grime with low-pressure water from a hose. (High-pressure sprayers can force water where it shouldn’t go.) See how one GearJunkie editor cleans his bike here.
  • Check your chain for wear with a chain-elongation gauge and replace it if indicated.
  • Check your brake and shift cables for nicks and proper tension. If you find nicks or fraying, replace the cable. If they’re stretched out, tighten ‘em up or replace them. If all is well, consider lubing your shift cables with a few drops of chain lube to keep them sliding smoothly through autumn.
  • Overhaul your jockey wheels for improved shifting. This should take about 10 minutes.
  • Check your wheels for true and tighten any loose spokes.
  • Check brake pads for wear and replace them if they’re getting thin.
  • Replace that nasty handlebar tape!
  • Lubricate your bottom bracket bearings.

And don’t forget your higher-mileage maintenance! If you neglected these tasks during the fall, make them a priority now.

Lennard Zinn_shop
Lennard Zinn; Adapted with permission of VeloPress

Every 1,000 miles:

  • Check that frame pump or CO2 inflator/cartridges are in working order.
  • Check saddle bag for tools. Check the condition of spare tube.
  • Drip chain lube on front and rear derailleur pivots.
  • Overhaul derailleur jockey wheel bushings and seals. If using cartridge-bearing jockey wheels, check for smooth action and regrease after removing the bearing covers.
  • Check wheels for true and spokes for correct tension.
  • Check rim brake-track wear; replace the rim if wear indicator dictates it.
  • Check rim for cracks, particularly at the spoke holes, and replace a rim if cracks are present.
  • Check shoe cleats for wear and replace if needed.
  • Lubricate shift and brake cables.

Adapted with permission of VeloPress from Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance. Find easy, step-by-step instructions on hundreds of bike maintenance tasks (including all those above) in Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance. From basic repairs like how to fix a flat tire to advanced overhauls of drivetrains and brakes, Lennard Zinn’s clearly illustrated guide makes every bicycle repair and maintenance job easy for everyone. View the new fifth edition at

Sean McCoy

Editorial Director Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.