Chances are good that your bike has been languishing in your garage/shed/living room during these last few soggy winter months. Now that it’s Spring and Bike Month is upon us, it’s time to do a safety check to make sure it’s ready to roll. It’s a good idea to perform the quick version of the ABC’s before each ride to help prevent unexpected incidents, but you should also periodically do a thorough assessment in each of these areas.
Air Check the tires for proper inflation (marked on the side of the tire). Check the tire treads for excessive wear or other damage, such as embedded glass. Spin the wheel to check if the rim is true. If you see a wobble, the spoke tension may be off or you may have a broken spoke. Your wheel should be trued by a skilled mechanic. Check the wheel rims for wear by running your finger along the braking surface. If it is concave or cracked, it needs to be replaced.
Brakes Check the brakes to make sure they work! Check the brake pads for excessive wear. Spin the wheels to check for rubbing. Are the brake calipers centered? Is the rubbing being caused by a wobble in the wheel? Is the wheel centered in the frame (see quick release tips below). Stand over the bike and apply the brakes and then try to push to bike forward. Do the brakes strongly grab the rim or do the wheels roll in spite of your braking action? The braking action should be smooth and even.
Chain Check the chain. In our rainy Juneau environment, without sufficient lube, the chain can rust. The wet weather also contributes to gunk buildup on the chain and pulley wheels. Clean and lube the chain if needed.
Other stuff to check—
- Ensure that the wheel quick release levers are secure.
- Look over cables and housing to make sure there is no fraying or splitting.
- Check for any loose parts.
- Remember, a clean bike is a happy bike!
Following these guidelines will go a long way to add to the enjoyment of your bike rides. Awareness and preventive maintenance will keep you and your bike going strong.
by Alice Tiernan