Autumn can be an exhilarating time for traveling by bike. It can also be a little unpredictable. Daylight hours are quickly waning, the temperature is fickle and rain can string together for days. Dressing for the season is challenging but keeping your bike running smoothly can be just as difficult. We’ve pulled together our top 5 tricks to keep you pedaling through fall:
5.) Keep those chains clean and lubed! Rain and road grit will accelerate chain wear and annoy you endlessly with creaks and squeaks. Wet lubricants like Pedro’s bio-friendly Chainj or Finish Line’s wet lube are great for fall. They’re thicker than dry lube so they will stick to your chain better in wet conditions. The downside is that road grit is also more likely to collect. A simple chain cleaner/degreaser will help get rid of the dirt. For maximum effect, clean your chain before applying the lubricant.
4.) Check your brakes and pads. Wet rims take longer to stop so it’s important to make sure your brakes are adjusted properly as we hit the rainy season. Inspect your brake pads to make sure they aren’t too worn and are free of small debris. Adjusting brakes can be tricky so when in doubt bring your bike to your favorite local shop for a fall tune-up.
3.) Inspect your tires. Fixing a flat tire when it’s raining and you can barely feel your fingertips is no one’s idea of a fun time. Before the weather takes a turn for the worse check your tires for cuts or debris embedded in the rubber. If you have a lot of cuts, a cut larger than 5mm, or your tire’s profile is becoming squared off then it’s time for replacements. Consider a wider tire for better stability and comfort in adverse conditions and something with a Kevlar belt to help combat punctures.
2.) Break out the car wax. A nice layer of car wax on your bike’s frame can prevent dirt and grime build-up and make your post-ride cleanup much easier. Be careful not to get any wax on your brakes or rims!
1.) Be bright, keep dry. Our number one tip for a safer and more enjoyable ride in the fall is to outfit your bike with lights and fenders. Lights are a must for the creeping darkness we face as winter grows nearer. A good front light will have modes for varying conditions; flashing for daylight rides and solid for riding in the dark. The same goes for a tail light. Adding fenders to your bike will block the majority of road spray coming off your tires. If you haven’t ridden with fenders it will be an enlightening experience.
With a little planning and a positive attitude any bike ride can be fun. Get out there and enjoy everything autumn has to offer!