10 Pre-Ride Checks To Make Sure Your Bicycle Is Safe To Roll
There's somewhere no other ride on the road where safety is more crucical than on a bicycle. For instance cars and trucks have built in dashboard codes and alerts that warn drivers if a tire is low or the brakes are failing. Even if a car was to malfunction, there is an emergency brake and a solid interior and exterior to at least protect the driver from serious injury. Unfortunately a bicycle has none of these and the safety of each cruise is the responsibility of the rider. These 10 checks should become a mandatory routine as soon as the bike is wheeled out for the day.
1) Check If Rear Wheel Is Secure
They're generally designed as a convenience but a quick-release lever on the rear wheel can be a disaster if it comes loose during a ride. Because of this it's important to check to make sure the lever is secure and tight as are any bolts if the wheel attaches in a more conventional way. Ensuring the rear wheel is secure only takes a second, but it can be a lifesaver.
2) Pluck the Spokes
Loose rim spokes likely will not cause any catastrophic disasters but multiple ones that have come unscrewed will cause the wheels to spin out of true (balance) and could cause premature wear. Give the spokes a quick pluck to make sure they're tight and make the same 'ping' sound.
3) Make Sure The Tires Have Enough Air
A pretty self-explanatory check, not enough air in the tires can be dangerous and will make riding the bike even harder. A tire gauge or simply a hand-resistance check will give a good indication if enough air is pumped.
4) Wiggle The Seat Post
A seat that comes loose during a ride can be quite a rude awakening. It's best to check the stability of the post before taking off on the cruise just to be safe.
5) Inspect and Service Chain
The chain may fall off during a ride ride regardless but it should still be inspected for kinks, made sure it cycles cleanly, and lubricated as needed. One thing many riders do not take into consideration is that an overly oiled bike chain will actually collect dirt and debris and make the pedaling even harder.
6) Give a Pedal Once-Over
The pedals do not need to be thoroughly inspected, just quickly checked to make sure they spin freely, are not cracked, and that the crankset is tight.
7) Make Sure The Front Wheel and Stem Move Uniformly
By standing with the front bike wheel between the legs and turning the handlebars back and forth a rider can make sure the front of the bike works uniformly. Sometimes the handlebar clamp bolts need to be tightened to make this work.
8) Do a Brake Test
Brakes are obviously very important and should be inspected before taking off on the bike. Sometimes brake calipers need to be adjusted, lubricated, or replaced based on their condition.
9) Search The Frame For Any Cracks
A bike with cracks in the frame should not be parked until proper repairs are made. If the frame breaks in half over a bump it can be very dangerous and it's one of the few fixes that can not be made on the go to keep the bike on the road.
10) Make Sure Lights Work
When riding home after the sun has set, lights are not only a convenience but a law in most states. Make sure the lights work before heading out or at least pack spare batteries in an emergency kit.
A pre-ride inspection is not the only part of safe bike riding, it continues by paying attention and following the rules of the road while on the bicycle as well.