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Winter tune-ups are the new spring tune-up

Why now is the time to get your bike ready if you want to ride this spring

The spring tune-up is, for cyclists across Canada, always an exciting affair. It signals an end to a cold winter of indoor trainer rides is approaching, as we all ready ourselves and our machines to return to the roads and trails of the real world. New tires, smooth bearings and clean hydraulic fluid are as good as fresh kit to start of another season behind bars.

But, if you want to be ready to mash pedals as soon as the snow melts, you might want to think a bit further ahead this year. The bike industry boomed in 2020, making shops busier than ever. We talked to two Canadian shop owners, who both say that traffic is still at all-time highs when it comes to bike service.

Winter, it turns out, is the perfect time for the spring tune-up.

Book now, ride later

When the snow is falling, riding can be the furthest thing from our minds. For months, that worn-out chain can remain a “later problem,” without affecting your day. But, when the sun starts shining shops get busy as everyone rushes to fix that nagging problem they neglected all winter.

With more riders than ever visiting shops, and bike companies struggling to catch up to demand, waiting too long to get your annual service could leave you waiting even longer.

Out on Vancouver Island, spring arrives sooner than the rest of Canada (or winter never really arrives). At Broad Street Cycles in Victoria, Parker Bloom says they’re seeing the spring rush start earlier than ever.

“Since we can ride all year here, spring services usually start picking up for us in late February. This year, our service levels are already above that,” says Bloom. “We’re finding we’re seeing traffic around two months ahead of what we’d normally see. Our wait times are down from last summer, but still way higher than they’d be in other years.”

It’s not just demand on shop mechanics that is up, though. Demand for bikes and parts is unusually high. This has meant wait time for parts can be longer than expected, as manufacturers work to keep up with the demand for new parts and service parts.

“The biggest barrier we’re running into now is having parts on hand,” says Bloom. “It’s not that stores don’t have anything, we just don’t have five of everything like we normally would.”

So if that one specific part you need is out of stock, your quick-fix could end up taking longer than usual.

Plan ahead to avoid delays

The easiest way to avoid delays is, of course, to plan ahead.

“Winter is the absolute best time to service your bike,” says Samantha Richter, sales manager and worker-owner at Urbane Cyclist in Ontario. “There is no better way to guarantee your bike will be ready on the first nice day of spring. Plus, it sure is great to beat a line!”

Even if you don’t have to wait for weird replacement parts, or time, getting ahead of the line can have its advantages.

And, if you’re short on storage space, there’s another bonus to bringing your bike in over winter: storage space.

“Many service departments also offer Winter Storage,” says Richter. Some of these, like Urbane Cyclist, include a full tuneup and priority service, for when you do want to ride. “Your future self will thank you!”

So this year let’s all be kind to shops and good to ourselves and plan ahead. It’s not a “spring tune-up,” it’s a “ready for spring” tune-up, right?