5 Things You MUST Check Every Time You Get on Your Bike

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Having a regular maintenance schedule for your bike is ideal, but —let’s face it— few of us adhere to schedules religiously, and many people feel the same way about bringing their bike in for maintenance as they feel about going to the dentist.

However, there are a few things you really MUST check before each and every time you get on your bike. If you park your bike in a public place, it is critically important that you check for secure attachment of the components before riding. We have seen countless instances of would-be thieves or vandals loosening various parts on parked bikes. Specifically, check the following before you ride:

  1. Check for secure wheel attachment. If you have bolt-on wheels, make sure the axle nuts are nice and tight. In case of quick-release wheels, check to see that they are tight and in closed position. If you’re not sure, here’s information on quick release operation.

  2. Verify secure attachment of components. Test the following for any looseness or missing hardware.

    • Handlebar and stem (neck) bolts.

    • Saddle and seatpost. Make sure the seatpost binder has not been removed. Check under the saddle to see if it’s properly attached.

    • Crank arms and pedals. Try to move the cranks and pedals with your hand checking for any looseness.

  3. Verify the attachment of brakes. Check for secure attachment of brake levers and braking mechanism. Check that the brake pads have not been removed. REALLY.

  4. Test brake brake function. Straddling the bike, squeeze the brake levers and try to roll the bike forward. If it rolls, or if brake levers bottom out against the handlebars before the brakes engage, it’s time to get your brakes adjusted. If not, take a quick look at the brakepads while spinning the wheel. Look and listen for any rubbing. If the brake pads rub the tire, they require immediate adjustment, or you could get a blow-out. If they rub the rim (or the rotor, in case of disk brakes), it’s not as urgent, but you should get the bike to the mechanic as soon as practical.

  5. Check air pressure in the tires. If you have skinny road tires, you should use a gauge. Most other tires can be assessed by feel. Nothing contributes to flats more than riding on underinflated tires. Check them regularly, and fill’em up as needed. Not sure how to go about it? Full details are here.

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