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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.

Understanding Brake Issues

Become knowledgeable about brake issues with this advice

Having brake issues? If so, you might be able to identify the problem yourself. There are three main reasons brake levers typically malfunction:

  • Your brake pads are not close enough to the rims
  • The system is not tight or fully “engaged”
  • Your levers are damaged or dirty

Always check that your brake pads are close enough to your wheel rims. Before you reposition them, check that the pads are not too worn down. Replace the pads if needed.

If the pads are okay, then turn the cable adjustment knob counterclockwise until the desired pad-to-rim distance is achieved (1/8th of an inch is standard). The cable adjustment knob is located either where your brake cable enters your lever or on the brake caliper.

Most modern braking systems have a quick-release mechanism that allows you to loosen the cable system without affecting your brakes effectiveness. This is the “slack” in the system needed to open the brake arms wide enough to get your wheel out. Some quick-releases are located on brake assemblies. Others are located on brake levers or elsewhere along the cable route. If you find too much “slack” in your braking system, check these quick-release mechanisms first to make sure they are engaged properly.

You may need to clean or repair the brake levers if your brake quick-releases are connected properly but the levers function poorly.

If you’re still having brake issues contact James Balentine of City Limit Cycles. You can schedule an appointment and he’ll make repairs at your home or office!