Peter ‘Fish’ Case: Getting back on two wheels: How to do it safely

As the winter months drag on, that doesn't stop the hopes of spring arriving soon as people start to get their bikes ready for the upcoming year at Burrows Specialized Sports on Main Street in Brattleboro. Kristopher Radder Brattleboro Reformer

Bike Tyson, Cyclosaurus, Frankenbike or Big Pink — whatever you call your two-wheeled life partner, you must take care of it.

If you’re like most, your bike has been sitting dormant for the winter months while you’ve focused on other activities. If you’re like me, the riding never stopped, but no matter how you slice it, maintenance is life. It doesn’t matter if you have the Breezer 1 (first mountain bike ever made) or the latest MAMIL (middle-aged men in Lycra)-endorsed $10,000 road bike. Without some mechanical love and lube, it will fail you, and when it fails, it costs more, so let’s not get to that point.

Daq Woods, a technician at Burrows Specialized Sports on Main Street in Brattleboro, gives a tuneup to a mountain bike on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024. Kristopher Radder — Vermont Country Magazine.

Preparing your bike for the upcoming riding season is essential to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Start by giving your bike a thorough inspection. Check for any signs of wear and tear on components such as tires, brake pads, and cables. Replace any damaged or worn-out parts to guarantee optimal performance. Lubricate the chain and other moving parts to reduce friction. Assess the air pressure in your tires and inflate them to the recommended levels.

Proper tire pressure not only improves ride quality but also reduces the risk of flats. As for brakes: These are pretty important, so make sure they are functioning correctly; test them in a controlled environment. Clean and degrease the drivetrain to remove winter grime, promoting smoother gear changes. Verify that the headset is tight and in good condition.

If your bike has been sitting basically untouched since last summer, these tips will likely not be as important, but always worth checking. Check saddle height, handlebar position, and other personalized settings; this will ensure your smooth re-entry into the two-wheeled realm of freedom. By investing time in these preparations, cyclists can confidently embrace the arrival of spring, knowing their bikes are ready to tackle the open roads and trails with renewed vigor.


But what about: The Sparkinator, Rolling Thunder, Sparktacus? Yes, the electric version of their acoustic ancestor: the e-bike. All the aforementioned routine maintenance applies to the e-bike, but now we have to factor in diagnostics, and address both hardware and software components to enhance efficiency, extend battery life and improve the overall riding experience. This one might be out of the shed mechanic’s reach and would require a certified technician. Or as I like to say, “Take it to Joe (or Daq).” If you live close to Brattleboro, Joe specializes in e-bike and electric conversions at Burrows Sports. He’s your guy.

Daq Woods, a technician at Burrows Sports on Main Street in Brattleboro, gives a tune-up to a mountain bike. Kristopher Radder — Vermont Country Magazine.

Bottom line: Your bike is a piece of machinery, and it requires basic maintenance and upkeep. So, if any of this is above your skill set, take it to your local bike shop and have them go over it and do the normal safety check and tune-up. It’s the best money you can spend to ensure some good spring and summer riding. You should learn how to do some of the basics yourself, so don’t be afraid to ask your local technician how to do some routine things that will keep you making tracks.

Some accessories you should have: a good helmet, bike lights and brightly colored clothing. Some accessories you should consider: spare tube, portable bike pump and/or CO2 cartridges and a multitool that all can be kept in a seat bag.

Above all, remember: Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy a bike, and that’s basically the same thing! Happy riding.

Vermont Country magazine

Vermont Country has a hyperlocal focus on the Green Mountain lifestyle, its personalities, events, attractions and culture. The magazine appears six times a year, designed to complement the state and four-season living. VtCo magazine is a Southern Vermont publication of Vermont News & Media.

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