A lot of people seem to be pulling their bikes down from storage here in Minnesota. It’s a
good idea to check out the bicycle for safety before riding it the first time — or any time.
The League of American Bicyclists, as part of their BikeEd program, recommend the ABC Quick Check every time you ride. It’s a pretty good regimen to follow, especially if you aren’t used to checking on things before each ride:
- A is for air. How are those tires? Are they inflated up right? Most modern bike tires have their recommended PSI on the sidewall. Proper inflation adds to safety and makes the bicycle easier to ride. Also, check for visible damage. If your tires are worn or threadbare, replacing them is a safety measure worth the price.
- B is for brakes. Stopping is good. When you pull your brake, is it firm? Do you have at least 1″ between the lever and your bar at the innermost point? Also, check your brakepads for wear. You should have at least 1/4″ of pad.
- C is for crank, chain, cassette. If your chain is bad, your ride will be bad. Loose chains skip and fall off the cassette. They make shifting awkward. Again: If you see these signs, fix it.
- Quick is for quick releases. If you have quick release wheel levers, make sure they’re closed and tight. I think the reasoning here is obvious.
- Check is for one last check. Hop on and ride around the lot, your driveway, whatever. Does the bike feel road-worthy?
One other tip: If you have a roof rack, figure out how tall your vehicle is with bikes attached. It’s useful for tunnels, parking garages, and other hazards. Never drive into your garage with the bikes attached unless you have a really funky awesome high garage designed for semis.