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Bike Safety Check

Get in the habit of completing this bike safety check

Failure to safety-check or maintain your bike can lead to accidents. Easily avoid some of these pitfalls with a simple bike safety check. Here are some refreshers on what to check and how often you should check your bike to ensure it’s safe for the road. Implement these safety checks before your next Rookie Triathlon training ride.

Things to check before every ride

  1. Tire pressure and road debris – keep pressure right at or near 5 to 10 lbs. below the recommended pressure. This will help prevent flats and by default extend the lifetime of your rim. Check for small thorns, staples, cuts, bald spots, or other problems with the outside of the tire.
  2. Bolts on the bike – make sure that the bolts on the stem, saddle, and seat post are nice and snug. Some bolts have a recommended torque due to the differences in the strength of the materials being used. If so, make sure bolts are tightened correctly. Most, if not all, bike stores carry torque wrenches.
  3. Tighten skewers – make sure both the front and rear skewers of the wheel are properly tightened and facing in the proper direction “back or up.”

Things to check every month

  1. Crank bolts – make sure that each crank bolt is nice and snug. These may work themselves out over time. An impact to the side of the bike is a common culprit to a loose crank.
  2. Headset – make sure that the headset is snug. A loose headset will lead to speed wobbles or a squirrelly bike.
  3. Trueness of wheels – make sure that your wheels are passing evenly through your brake calipers and frame. An untrue wheel could lead to broken spokes or uneven wear on your tires. If your tire is no longer true, follow this advice to true your wheel at home.
  4. General shifting of the bike – make sure that your chain is not dumping to the inside or out on the front set of rings. Make sure the rear derailleur is moving smoothly across your cassette and not rubbing on your rear wheel or frame. If this is occurring chances are your rear derailleur hanger has been slightly bent.
  5. Pedals – make sure both pedals are nice and snug. Remember the left pedal is reverse threaded. Pro tip: read our blog for a deeper dive into removing or replacing pedals.

Things to check every 2 to 3 months

  1. Inspection for cracks – clean the frame off with a damp rag or wash your bike. Inspect the entire frame, fork, seat post, and wheels for cracks, delaminating, or loosening of welds. If you find that any of these areas have been compromised in any way, “Do Not Ride The Bike.” Take it to your LBS “local bike shop” for inspection or have James Balentine with City Limit Cycles come to you. One more ride is not worth serious injury.

Note: Riders that race bikes, travel with their bikes, or know that they are tough on their equipment should run through this checklist before every ride.

7 Steps to a Clean Bike

Not only does a clean bike look great, but it also performs better, lasts longer, and is easier to maintain

Perhaps you haven’t cleaned your bike all triathlon season. Maybe you just went on a long ride and it rained on you. It might be the end of your season and you’re putting your bike away for a few months. Whatever the case, it’s time to clean your bike! Follow the 7 steps below and your bike will be clean in no time. Take care of the bike that takes care of you. Remember, a clean bike is a happy bike.

Supplies

  1. An old shirt or a few rags
  2. Dish soap
  3. Small bucket
  4. Water hose
  5. Bicycle lubricant

Guideline for a clean bike

Step 1:

Set the nozzle on the hose to a light spray and spray down the entire bicycle. You do not want the pressure of the water to be too powerful. It could remove grease in areas that will be difficult for you to replace.

Step 2:

Tear the shirt into a few pieces and place in the bucket with a cap full of dish soap. Fill the bucket halfway with water and mix the water and soap around with the rags. Take one rag from the bucket and scrub the entire bike. Get the tires, frame, spokes, rims, hubs, drivetrain, and any other part of the bike that seems dirty. Check out this bicycle cleaning kit, it can make it easier to get to some of those hard to reach spots.

Step 3:

Take the water hose again and spray your bike off one more time. This should remove the remaining grime that has been loosened up by the scrubbing.

Step 4:

Take one of the remaining rags and dry the bicycle off. You can allow it to drip dry for a few minutes to make this easier.

Step 5:

Now that your bicycle is clean and dry, it is time to re-lube the drivetrain and other moving parts. Take your bike lube and cover the entire chain. Drip a few drops on the cassette of the bicycle. Now drip a few drops on each side of your wheels were your skewers go through the hub. Finally, drip a few drops on the brake calipers where the center bolt passes through and connects to the frame. This blog post provides more specifics on cleaning a drivetrain.

Step 6:

Now put your helmet on and take your bike for a little spin. Make sure you shift into every possible gear on your bike to spread out the lube. If you do not want to ride, just lift your rear wheel off the ground and shift the bicycle into every gear that way.

Step 7:

Last but not least, wipe the chain and drivetrain down one more time with a clean, dry rag to remove excess lube.

Happy cleaning!

Four Simple Steps to Clean Your Bike

Sweat, dirt, grime. Over time, these can do serious damage to your bike. Clean your bike between tune-ups to keep all of your moving parts working optimally. This is especially true if you are going for longer rides, are a heavy sweater, or if you ride in the rain.

Clean your bike and it’ll make your next ride feel better while prolonging the life of your bike parts.

Supplies to clean your bike

  • Rag – at least three; two that can get greasy and one to dry off and polish the bike after it is clean
  • Brushes – one soft and a smaller stiff brush for the drivetrain
  • Water Bucket
  • Cleaner – Simple Green is a great general cleaner to use for overall cleaning of the bike
  • Bike Degreaser – get one that’s specific to bikes, not just turpentine
  • Chain Lube – there are a lot of options here and what you want to use may vary. Talk to your local bike shop about what might be best. When in doubt, go for a light, self-cleaning lubricant.

1. Washing the frame

Use a soft cloth or brush to clean the entirety of your bike frame, including the front fork and handlebars. Work from the top down. Finish by scrubbing the chainstays, cranks, and cogs. Let sit for a minute. Then rinse all of the parts in the same order you cleaned them.

2. Cleaning the drive chain

Depending on how often you clean your bike this can get really messy.

Apply degreaser to the chain, cassette, and derailleurs. Let that sit and then scrub with a hard-bristle brush. Run through all of the gears to make sure each section has been covered in degreaser. Rinse thoroughly and then repeat if needed. You should be able to wipe a clean cloth along your chain with little to no residue showing.

3. Let your bike dry completely

Kinda self-explanatory. You can use a clean cloth to wipe down the frame so that water spots don’t show after.

4. Lube the chain

Once your bike is dry it is important to lube your chain. You lube the chain by holding the bottle and steadily dripping it onto the chain while turning the pedals backward. It should not take more than a few drops. Run through all of the gears. You should be able to run your fingers along the chain and have little-to-no residue on your fingers. An over-lubed chain will just attract more dirt.