Looking outside the window right now at those several feet of snow, Spring bike rides seem awfully far away. Who would think that now is the perfect time to get your bike ready for the change in the weather?
It’s exactly because bike riding seems like it’s months away that you should take your bike to a shop now to get tuned up. This is the slow season for bike shop mechanics. The holiday buying season is over, only the hardiest of riders are going out on the roads, which means few customers for shopkeepers, and more time to spend with your bike.
Taking your bike to the mechanic in January or February can save you weeks in waiting time to get your bike back. By March when we start to have occasional warm days, everyone else remembers that they never got that flat fixed, or the chain problem straightened out, and they take the bike to the shop. That crush of repairs all at once can mean a long wait to get your ride back and you out enjoying the sunshine.
An additional benefit of taking your bike to the shop now could be that the mechanic has some extra time to spend with you answering your questions. Is your bike set up correctly for your body? Would higher handlebars help remove that strain on your back/wrists/neck? Would a better saddle increase your comfort? Should I raise or lower my saddle height to lessen knee pain?
If you don’t already have a bike shop you like, this is also a good time to visit a few and check them out. Just like any other kind of shop, they’re not all the same. Find one where the sales people and mechanics speak to your respectfully and are enthusiastic about what they do. Are they really there just to move product, or to help you get the best out of your riding experience?
Here in the Northampton, MA area there are lots of shops, some focusing on specific kinds of riders and bikes – racing, BMX, commuter bikes. There’s even a mechanic who will come to you and do repairs at your place.
Because my interest is bike touring, I looked for a shop where the personnel understood the load carrying demands put on my bike, the body position I wanted, and that not just any components will do. The kind of riding I do is different from commuting.
Whatever shop or mechanic you want to use, do it now so your Spring rides will start in March, not in June. Being ready when the weather changes means you’re sharing out the cycling joy as soon as possible.