Know the Basics
The days are getting longer and warmer, which means riding season is approaching. As you venture outside on your bike, it’s important to keep safety high on the priority list. Making sure your equipment is in proper working order, as well as having the tools and knowledge to maintain the equipment, is essential for a safe and fun experience.
Pre-ride safety check. Before each ride, take a minute to examine the wheels, brakes, chain, saddle, pedals, and cockpit.
Wheels. Make sure the tires are inflated to the recommended pressure (imprinted on the sidewall of the tire). Spin the wheel and make sure the tire doesn’t show any cuts, embedded debris, or any other irregularity that could cause you trouble out on the road. At the same time, check and make sure the wheel is properly secured in the frame (with a closed quick release lever or a tightened axle bolt).
Brakes. Give each the front and rear brake lever a squeeze while pushing the bike forward in order to ensure each brake will have stopping power.
Chain. Chains should be clean, lubed, and free of rust and debris. The the gears and crank should spin freely as well so the chain doesn’t skip while pedaling.
Saddle, pedals, & cockpit. Check to to see if the seat post is secure in the frame and the saddle is secured to the post. The pedals should be threaded all the way in, and spin freely on their spindles. The cockpit consists of the grips, levers, handlebar, and stem – all of which should be snug.
Carry the essentials. In the era of modern technology, a cell phone has become an extremely important piece of equipment; carried in a pocket or bag affixed to the bike. But a phone isn’t the only thing you should carry. Your bag (most commonly secured underneath the seat or located on the handlebar) should have a basic multi-tool, tire levers, replacement inner tube, patch kit, and a tire inflator. A tire inflator can either be a more traditional hand pump, or a CO2 inflator, which uses a cartridge of compressed air to inflate a tire quickly. A bottle of water in a holder on the bike is also an important piece of safety equipment, and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Learn the basics. Just having the tools isn’t enough to take care of potential roadside issues. Every cyclist should know the basics. The number one problem encountered by recreational cyclists is punctures. While repairing a flat tire the first time can be intimidating, it’s a simple process that takes under an hour to learn. At bare minimum find a short instructional video online if you don’t know how to repair a flat, but nothing can beat a hands-on class offered by local professionals.