Bike Set-Up and Maintenance 101
BIKE SET-UP & MAINTENANCE 101
Taking your woom bike out of the box for the first time, or just due for a general checkup now that warmer weather is arriving? We’ve compiled a few tips to set-up and take care of your bike.
First, you’ll want to adjust the “fit” of your child’s bike for their safety, comfort and performance, keeping in mind that you will need to make additional adjustments as your child grows.
Seat height is adjusted by opening the quick-release clamp or loosening the seat clamp screw on the seat post and sliding the saddle up or down. New riders, such as kids on balance bikes or who are trying out a pedal bike for the first time, should be able to place their feet flat on the ground while seated. More experienced riders should have their leg roughly 85 percent extended at the bottom of the pedal stroke—this means they’ll probably be on their tiptoes when seated.
Reach, which is the horizontal distance from the bottom bracket to the head tube (or in easier-to-understand terms, roughly how far away the handlebars are), is adjusted on most adult bikes by changing the stem length. The current woom 4, 5, 6 have a Vario stem, which adjusts between two positions: higher and longer; this allows the bike to “grow” with your child. On the woom 2 and 3, the reach can be adjusted by tilting the handlebars forwards or backward. This can be done by loosening the bolt on the front of your stem. Ideally, when seated, a rider should be leaning forward slightly with their arms coming down at a 40-60 degree angle.
Brakes can be adjusted for smaller hand sizes by tightening or loosening the reach adjustment screw. Tightening the reach adjustment screw will bring the brake lever closer to the handlebars, however overtightening this screw could lead to a brake adjustment being required. The brake levers also can be rotated up or down so that a rider’s hands can comfortably reach them from a neutral position.
All bikes require routine maintenance. Before every ride, give your child’s bike and your own bike a quick “ABCD” check—AIR, BRAKES, CHAIN, DROP TEST.
Air: check tire pressure and inflate the tires to the recommended pressure noted on the tire’s sidewall; you can run a slightly lower pressure for off-road riding.
Brakes: make sure the brakes are working correctly (an easy way is to pick up each wheel, spin the tire, and then press the brake lever, taking particular note that the brake pads aren’t worn down or loose.
Chain: like inflating your tires to the correct pressure, lubricating the bike’s chain should be part of your regular maintenance routine; when the bike’s chain is dirty or dry, apply a high-quality chain lube to the chain and wipe it down with a clean rag.
Drop Test: lift your bike by the seat and handlebars about 6 inches off the ground, then drop it; if you heard any rattles or loose parts, it’s time for a more in-depth look—some key things to look for are a loose stem, headset, wheels (either wheel bolts or quick-release skewer), and chain.
If you have a woom 4, 5 or 6, or an OFF model, you’ll also want to periodically “run through the gears” of the bike, making sure that it’s shifting well.
TIRES – What to Do About Flats
You’ll get a flat somewhere down the road, but with an ounce of prevention, it will be a rare event: periodically check that your child’s tires aren’t worn out (a good sign is that there’s plenty of knobby tread) and also check that there’s no debris stuck in the tire, like small pieces of gravel or glass. Be sure to keep a bike pump handy and inflate tires to the proper pressure before riding. And of course, if you spot broken glass or other debris, instruct your child to avoid riding in that area.
If your tire is flat at the start of a ride, the tube may have fallen victim to a slow leak, but if it’s been a long time since you used the bike, you might just need to reinflate the tires (an easy way to check is to inflate the tire and leave it overnight—if it doesn’t feel any softer in the morning, roll on!).
Occasionally you’ll have the bad luck to run over a nail or sharp object that pokes far enough through the tire to make a hole in the tube inside. A puncture can cause a tire to very slowly go flat (even long after your bike is back in the garage), or it can deflate the tire immediately. Often there’s no sudden noise or dramatic result, just the “thwap thwap thwap” of a flat and floppy tire on the pavement. In most cases, you’ll simply need to patch or replace the damaged tube.
How to replace a tube:
When you have a puncture, you’ll want to start by determining what caused the puncture if you can. If there’s a small piece of glass still stuck in the tire, for example, replacing the tube without removing it will just mean you’re going to quickly have another flat. Also check the condition of the tire—if the puncture has caused significant damage or if the surface of the tire is old and worn, replace the tire as well as the tube.
To replace a tube, you’ll need to remove the wheel from the bike and then the tire from the wheel using tire levers or your hands. Next, remove the old tube, determine where the puncture occurred if possible, and remove any remaining debris. Replace with a new tube of the appropriate size (tubes are sized by wheel diameter); inflating the tube slightly putting a little bit of air into it with a pump often makes fitting it into the tire easier. Lay the tube inside the tire, work the tire back onto the rim using the tire levers or your hands, and inflate the tire.
TIP: Many cyclists carry a “flat kit” on their rides. A “saddle bag” that attaches to the bike’s seatpost often includes a spare tube, tire levers, and a frame pump (or inflator and CO2 cartridge); this allows you to easily change a flat tire when on the go.
Cleaning your bike
After your child is set-up and riding we recommend washing your bike regularly. It will help keep it in safe, good working order and will make its components last much longer. In this “How to Clean Your Bike” article we have outlined a simple process for you that can be used for washing almost any bike.