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Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Ethan Bowers of Fort Wayne Outfitters & Bike Depot assembles a new bike.

Before you ride: Most bikes need a tuneup after winter

File | The Journal Gazette

That two-wheel beauty calls to you from its storage spot where it has languished all these winter months, patiently waiting for the first warm days of spring.

The thought of the wind blowing across your face as you ride your bicycle on the paths, trails or roads for your first real outing of the season is almost too much. But before you hop on that seat and pedal off, there are some things you should consider to help make that ride smooth and trouble free.

It's a pretty good bet that your bicycle is in need of a spring tuneup, says Ethan Bowers with Fort Wayne Outfitters & Bike Depot, 1004 Cass St.

Bowers says to check the tire pressure and the tires, making sure they haven't dry-rotted and do not have cracks. He also says to check the brakes.

Bowers says bike owners need to make sure to clean their bikes and keep their bikes lubricated. People with "no mechanical knowledge can do this," he says of keeping a bike clean.

But if you're not sure you can handle the mechanical side of things, Bowers says Fort Wayne Outfitters offers tuneups to help get you on your way.

So does Summit City Bicycles at 3801 Lima Road. For $60, service staff will give your bike an overall checkup, getting it ready for the summer months, says Scott Yoquelet, assistant service manager.

"Everybody's itching to get outside," so he says it's important to make sure things are functioning after a long winter. Items such as brake cables can corrode and break. He also says to make sure your helmet is in good shape.

A helmet, says Bowers, who has been riding seriously for about five years, is an important item when riding a bike.

He offers other safety tips:

•When riding on the road, make sure you get over far enough to allow cars to pass safely.

•Learn road signals, such as which way you are turning, using your arms to alert drivers where you are going.

•Attach a bell to your bike or call out to let pedestrians and others know you are coming toward or around them.

•Bike items such as a tube, tire lever and an Allen wrench are good things to keep in a saddle bag on your bike in case of emergencies, Bowers says.

Bowers loves to ride urban paths and says some of his favorite places to ride are the Towpath Trail at Eagle Marsh and downtown Fort Wayne.

For people wanting to get into cycling, Bowers suggests the Three Rivers Velo Sport club (, which offers rides and events, as well as Fort Wayne Outfitters' website at or Facebook page for the organization's upcoming events.