Pre-Ride Bike Inspection Checklist
Before riding, there are a few things you should do to ensure your ride is as safe and fun as possible. Having a checklist is useful so you don't forget anything; between clothing, gear, and the bike, there is a lot to remember before heading out for a ride. Have a great ride!
- Feeling a tire for proper pressure is often misleading. Add the right amount of air to your tires. Don't remember how much air to add? Read the tire recommendation, it's printed on the sidewall of the tire. It's often hard to find or read without good light.
- Look over each tire. Check the sidewalls and rolling surface for cracking or bare threads showing. If the rolling surface appears flat, the tire is more likely to get a flat and is also probably at the end of its life. Also, be sure there aren't shards of glass or other sharp objects sticking out of the tire. Sometimes, the thing that flats a tire works its way into the tube over time and could be removed long before the flat happens.
- Rubber dries up over time and becomes brittle. Be cautious of a bike that hasn't been ridden in a long time or one that has been stored outside.
Front/rear wheel quick releases
- The front and rear wheel quick releases should always be checked by trying to open them up and closing them properly.
- To close the quick release properly, there are a few methods to get it right. Ask us if you are unsure, it's important to get right! One method is to do this: open the quick release lever so that the skewer is loose and the wheel could come out of the dropouts. Make sure your bike is perfectly upright and let the wheel rest evenly in the dropouts. Hand-tighten the skewer with the quick release lever in the closed position. When it's "hand-tight," open up the lever at that point, turn the nut 1/2 to 3/4 of a turn, then close the lever. If it closes with enough pressure to make a small indent in the palm of your hand, it is properly tightened.
- Do not over or under tighten! Both situations are not good.
Wheel Spin Test
- Pick up your bike and, one at a time, spin each wheel gently and watch it come to a stop. Listen carefully for odd noises. Watch for wheel wobble.
- If the wheel appears to come to an abrupt stop or if you hear a weird noise, something needs to be adjusted. Usually, a rubbing brake is the cause of this.
- Do you see your wheel wobble? It may be out of true. Watch again. Is it the rim that has wobble or is it the tire? If it's the tire, the tire may not be seated properly in the rim. This is a good time to consult your mechanic.
- If you you have a rubbing brake from the spin test, first be sure that the wheel is, indeed, seated in the dropouts properly. Is the wheel out of true? Brakes don't start rubbing the rim on their own.
- If the caliper feels like it can be adjusted by moving it by hand, its center-bolt likely needs to be tightened. This is a good time to have your mechanic do the adjustment if you haven't done it before. Brakes are too important!
- Squeeze the brake levers to be sure the brake is actuating and grabbing the rim/disc as quickly and completely as you expect.
- Look for cracking in the cable housing. Check the cables for any fraying. If either cables or housing are damaged, replace them immediately. Be sure aluminum cable end protectora are on the end of any cable that is sticking out from a brake or derailleur.
- A quick re-lube and clean for your chain will make the drivetrain (all parts that interface with the chain) last longer. In the long run, it'll save you money. It's best to clean/lube the chain when you return from a ride. It's best to allow the lube time to sit on the chain for a few hours before wiping it off. This maximizes the time the lube will protect the chain.
- Bolts need to be checked periodically to be sure they haven't loosened up over time. This being said, bolts should not continually be tightened more and more. This stretches the bolt and eventually, it'll snap. Setting each bolt to the torque spec (usually 5 Nm for stem bolts, for example) will keep everything safe.
- This is one of those items that's included in a tune-up that few people realize happens and is extremely important. There are quite a few bolts on a bike. Loose bolts result in brake or derailleur cables coming loose, seatposts slip down, handlebars rotate down or move independent of the front wheel, saddles come loose from seatposts, hoods slip out of position. Any of these things moving during a ride could cause the ride to come to a sudden end.
- Do you have lights, a bike computer, electronic shifting or anything that has a battery on your bike?
- Make sure the battery has adequate life left in it. Turn the device on/off quickly just to verify it will work.
- For items like electronic shifting that needs to be charged once every ~3 months or so, always check it to be in good habits. The system alerts the rider with 500+ miles to spare, but it's possible to be caught off-guard if you've gotten out of the habit of ever checking it. Rear lights that run off of AAAs will last 100 hours. Carry a spare set of batteries in your saddle bag since keeping track of when the light will stop flashing is nearly impossible. Rear lighting is so important for those traveling at non-bright hours, it's a good idea to simply use two lights.
- The easiest way to carry basic tools and anything you'd need to change a flat is to keep it all in a saddle bag. Is your saddle bag securely fastened to your saddle? Periodically, be sure everything you think is in it is still there. Be sure there isn't anything sharp rubbing your tube that will, over time wear a hole in the tube.