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Twelve routine safety checks before you ride

Checking your bike every time you ride it can seem like a lot of effort, and it can also seem a little bit boring. It needn’t take more than a few moments, however, and occasionally you’ll appreciate the time it takes because you’ll pick up a problem waiting to happen that is far easier to fix before you set off. Looking carefully at your bike on a regular basis also makes it easier to spot when something is wrong.

Twelve routine safety checks before you ride

“It’s worth going through a mental checklist at the same time”

It’s worth having a routine for checking your bike. Doing it in the same order every time means you’re less likely to miss something. It’s worth going through a mental checklist at the same time to ensure you have everything else you need for a ride. Your needs will depend on how far you intend to leave civilization behind, but normal items include plenty of water, emergency food, appropriate clothing, sunblock, map, tools and pump, as well as checking that somebody knows where you’re going and when you are expected back. If you can rely on coverage, a mobile phone can be a fantastic asset in an emergency. It’s not a substitute for careful preparation though.

Quick-release skewer : Check both wheels are securely attached. Quick-release levers must be firmly folded to line up with the fork blade or rear stay; otherwise they can snag on things and open accidentally. Most levers have ‘open’ and ‘closed’ printed on opposite sides. Fold the lever so the ‘closed’ side is visible. Bolt-thru axles should be checked for security too.

  1. Tyres : Check tyres for bald patches, tears and sharp things. The glass and thorns, etc., which cause punctures often take time to work through the tyre casing. Inspect your tyres frequently and pick out foreign objects. It’s tedious but quicker than fixing the punctures they cause!
  2. Spokes : Check for broken spokes. Gently brush a hand over both sides of both wheels, with the ends of your fingers brushing the spokes. Even one broken spoke weakens a wheel considerably. A permanent repair is also much easier if the wheel hasn’t been ridden on.
  3. Front wheel : Lift front end of the bike off ground and spin the front wheel. Check it runs freely and doesn’t wobble between the forks.
  4. Rim brakes : Check the brake blocks don’t touch the tyre or rim as the wheel turns. Rubbing blocks wear quickly and slow you down. Check position of the brake blocks. Each block should be parallel to the rim, low enough to avoid hitting the tyre but not so low that any part of the brake block hangs below the rim. (N.B. Photo opposite is of a disc-brake bike.)
  5. Disc-brake calliper : Check disc pads. You should have at least 0.5mm of brake pad on each side of the rotor; if you don’t, fit new pads before you ride.
  6. Brake levers : Carry out a simple brake check every time you ride. Stand beside the bike, push it gently forward, then pull on the front brake. The front wheel should lock on and the back one should lift off the ground. If not, don’t ride!
  7. Brake levers : Use a similar test for the back brake. Push the bike forward, then pull on the back brake. The back wheel should lock and slide along the ground. If not, do not ride.
  8. Chain : Check the drivetrain. The chain should be clean and should run smoothly through the gears without falling off either side of the sprocket or the chainset. Turn pedals backwards and watch the chain run through the derailleur. Stiff links flick the derailleur forward as they pass over the lower jockey wheel. It’s worth sorting them out since they can cause your gears to slip under pressure.
  9. Cables and hoses : Check all cables (brake and gear) for kinks in the outer casing or frays in the cable. Frayed cables should be replaced immediately. Clean and oil rusty or dirty cables. Check hydraulic hoses for links or leaks; inspect the joints between hose and calliper, and hose and brake lever. Run your finger down each hose while pumping the brake levers – you’ll feel any leaks or weak spots.
  10. Stem : Check that stem and bars are tight. Stand over the front wheel, gripping it between your knees. Try turning the bars. They shouldn’t move independently. Try twisting the bars in the stem too. If you have bar ends, lean down on them. Tighten any loose steering components.
  11. Pedals : Check the cleats in the pedals. Make sure you can clip into and out of both sides of both pedals easily.

Toolbox

Tools for three comfort zones

  • 6 mm Allen key to adjust saddle position
  • 4 or 5mm Allen key to adjust saddle height (or quick release)
  • 5 or 6mm Allen key to adjust bar and stem position
  • 4 mm Allen key to adjust cleat position

Tools for cleaning routine

  • Muc-Off or bike wash
  • Degreaser
  • Stiff brush
  • Sponge frame
  • Chain oil to re-lubricate
  • Plenty of warm water

Source : BIKE MAINTENANCE TIPS, TRICKS & TECHNIQUES