Here are a few basic tips for a “pre-flight” check you can perform before every ride and while cleaning your bike to ensure it is operating safely and efficiently. It’s as simple as “A-B-C”!
Air - Are your tires properly inflated? Check the rating on the sidewall of your tire for the appropriate range. Ensuring your tires are properly inflated will minimize your risk of flats and decrease your rolling resistance. Inspect your remaining tire tread and look for cuts, debris and gashes in the sidewalls. Replace your tires when worn (but save that old tire for your bike trainer!)
Brakes - Spin your wheel and ensure there is no rubbing on the brake pads. Squeeze your brake lever and ensure the brakes are engaging properly. Ensure you have at least an inch (approx a thumb’s width) between your lever and handlebars/grips when your brake is engaged. Remove any grime from the surface of your brake pads (for rim brakes - on most road bikes). You can scrub them a bit with an alcohol based product & a clean, dry rag. If the grooves are all but worn away in your brake pads, or they are worn unevenly / sticking, it is time for replacements. Also make sure to check your brake cables for any wear / fraying.
Chain / Crank / Cassette - The drivetrain is the “go” of your bike. Keep these parts free of dirt and grime to ensure smooth shifting and a long life. Ensure your chain is clean and lubed - remove excess chain lube with a clean rag until you stop seeing black streaks on the rag. The outside does not need to appear wet - only the inner moving pins need to be lubricated. If you grab the crank arm and try to wiggle it away from the bike, you should not feel any looseness or “play”. If you feel any skipping when shifting, check with your local bike shop to see if you need an adjustment, new chain or cassette.
Quick Releases - The quick release skewers on your wheels and/or seatpost can easily be overlooked when putting your bike in / taking your bike out of the car. Ensure that all QR skewers are properly tightened and closed prior to riding.
Performing these easy steps will help you head off problems before they become issues out on the road. Keep your bike clean and in good shape, and it will thank you!
By Jen Murphy