It may not seem like it now but warm weather is right around the corner and that means, for most, bikes will be coming out of hibernation. It would be so easy to just jump on and ride away but you should always do a quick pre-season (or pre-ride) check. Here are a few things you can check to make that first ride of the season safe and fun!
Use this acronym “ABC check” to remember some key things to look for!
A stands for Air
It is not uncommon for tires to lose air over the winter. A simple bike pump can take care of filling up those tires. I always recommend getting a larger shop style pump that is able to fit on the two most common bike tube types (schreader and presta). You can buy one through Bicycle Repair Hub or get something like this.
A qood question that comes up is “how much air should I put in the tire”. The side of the tire actually gives the max pressure a tire can be inflated to. Make sure to check there as going over the max pressure can cause the tube to rupture (and the sound it makes is LOUD). While you are inflating your tires, check that there are no cracks. Cracked tires should be replaced.
B stands for Brakes
Always get in the habit of grabbing the brakes when getting on (and off) the bike. This is one way of testing if the brakes are working or not. I heard of a case where someone had their brakes stolen off their bike. They didn’t realized until it was too late and they suffered some serious injuries. The brake lever should NOT pull to the bar before the pads engage. This is personal preference but for the casual rider, the levers should move about half way to the handlebar at which point the brake pads will start to stop the bike. Also make sure the brake pads are installed and tightened properly. I can’t tell you have many times I’ve checked brake pads and can spin them around with just my hand.
If you have hydraulic disc brakes, stand the bike upright on the rear wheel and start pumping the brake levers. If the brake levers start moving more and more towards the handlebar, it means you air in the system and need a brake bleed. A spongy brake lever will also suggest your hydraulic disc brakes need to be serviced.
C stands for “check the quick release and bolts”
Improper use of the quick release skewers borders on a pandemic. The skewer should be flipped into the closed position and not simply screwed tight. For bikes with wheels attached to the frame with nuts,using a torque wrench is best to ensure the proper tightness (260-390 in-lb).
Also check that handlebar/stem and fork is tightened together properly. A simple way to check this is to stand at the front of the bike with the front tire between your legs. Holding the tire firmly with your legs, try to turn the handlebars left and right. You will notice a bit of flex from the wheel but the handlebar should NOT turn independently from the wheel. If it does, DO NOT ride the bike. You will need to either tighten the handlebar stem or have someone do it for you.
These simple tips should help with getting your bike ready for fun this season!!!