Pre-Ride Bike Inspection

10 September, 2018

In honor of Rapha's Women's 100 ride this September 15th, I will be covering the basics of prepping for your ride for those girls who are new to it and those who want to know more on being prepared. This week I will be covering: prepping your bike, kit + gear, and what to take with you on a ride so keep your eyes peeled for this weeks posts. To start, today's post is all about inspecting your bike and making sure it is well prepped before you set out. Whether you’re a new cyclist or a seasoned rider, it’s always a good idea to inspect your bike before a ride to make sure it's in good working order. Some things like your tires, brakes, and chains should always be checked before every ride; others may be checked less frequently.
If your bike hasn’t been used in a long time or you’ve noticed a specific problem, take it to a bike shop for a tune-up. If you want to do the tune-up yourself, you can read my post on Basic Bike MaintenanceKeep in mind that you're perfectly capable to learning how to do your own tune up and maintenance but for the sake of just inspecting your bike, here is what you should know.
Air: Having properly inflated tires helps prevent flats. Check the sidewall of your tire for the recommended tire pressure. While you’re checking the air, take a moment to look for cracks or excessive wear on your tires. Also take the opportunity to ensure your quick-release levers and thru axles (if you have them) that attach your wheels to the bike frame are properly tightened. Then, before you ride, make sure you have your patch kit and pump with you.

Brakes: Squeeze your front and rear brake levers to make sure that the brakes engage properly and smoothly. 

Chain: Look at your chain and all the gears. Keeping your chain lubricated and everything clean will ensure your bike shifts easier and the drivetrain (made up of the front chain rings, rear cassette, rear derailleur and chain) last longer.



Fit: If it has been a while since you’ve been on your bike, or you’re borrowing one from a friend, make sure it fits you. As a general rule, when you’re standing over the bike with your feet flat on the ground there should be at least 1– 2 inches of clearance between your crotch and the top tube (bar) on a road bike and at least 2–3 inches on a mountain bike.

Saddle: Check that the saddle (seat) is adjusted at the right height and position for you. Having the saddle at the right height for pedaling is important for your knees: When your leg extended in the 6 o’clock position, your knee should be slightly bent.
The correct fore/aft position is when your knee is directly over the center of your front pedal when your feet are parallel to the ground. Personal preference determines whether the saddle should be tipped forward, level or backward.

RimsLift up the bike and spin the wheels. The rims should be straight and not wobble noticeably from side-to-side or up-and-down. If they do, that means your wheel isn’t true (straight) and you need to bring your bike in for service.

Gears: Spin the crank and shift through the gears. The chain should transfer smoothly from gear to gear. If the chain wants to jump up or down a gear on your rear cassette, then the shifting needs to be adjusted.

Cranks: Cranks are the arms that attach the pedals to the bike. Give each one a pull to make sure it is tight. Do not ride a bike with a loose crank.

Frame and Headset: First, check the frame for cracks. Then, hold the front brake and rock the bike back and forth. Excessive play means the headset needs adjusting. Do not ride a bike with a cracked frame or loose headset.

Doing your own inspection and maintenance on your bike will keep it in great condition and save you from having to buy and replace parts often. I also recommend taking in your bike once a year just to make sure all is in place and functioning well. If you do take your bike in, make sure you do so in enough time to pick up your bike before your ride. The less time it's in the shop, the more time you have to ride!

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Image Courtesy: Strongher

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