Bike Please Don’t Fail Me Now

Several pre-ride bike inspection methods are available on the Internet. The League of American Bicyclists has the “ABC  Quick Check” on  its   website at content/smart-cycling-tips-0. The Boulder Cycling Club does an abbreviated version of  the “ABC Quick Check” before each ride.

Years  ago,  while on a bike tour, Peggy and I were taught a pre-ride bike inspection that I particularly like (see below). It’s similar to the “ABC Quick Check” but  includes a  few more steps. I suggest that everyone learn a pre-ride bike inspection and perform the inspection during the 15 minute waiting period before each ride.  The  inspection  only  takes a couple of minutes and may uncover an unsafe bike condition. However, these pre-ride bike inspections are not meant to replace more thorough periodic inspections of  your bike or bike shop inspections.

Bill and  Peggy’s 10 Step Pre-Ride Bike Inspection

1. Stand facing your bike with the front wheel between your legs and try to twist and rotate the handle- bars. There should be no movement in the handlebars.
2. Stand alongside the bike and apply the front brake. Rock the bike forward and backward feeling for movement in the headset. Tighten the headset before cycling if there
is excessive movement. Tighten the headset before the next ride if there is slight movement.
3. Lift the front of the bike and spin the front wheel, making sure it turns freely. While the wheel is turning, apply the brake, checking that the brake pad hits the rim properly and the brake handle has proper tension. Repeat for the rear brake.
4. Check the quick-release levers on the front and back brakes, ensuring they are in the closed position.
5. Twist, push, and pull  the seat looking for any movement. Tighten before cycling if there is any movement.
6. Grab the crank arm and push and pull  it side-to-side. There should be no movement in the arms or bottom bracket.
7. Check the quick-release on the front and back wheels for proper tightness.
8. Visually check the bike for obvious problems such as tire damage, loose bolts, frayed cables, etc.
9. Lift the bike 1 foot off  the ground and drop it on both tires, thus ensuring nothing is loose or falls  off the bike. This  is my  favorite step. You may be surprised at what wig- gles or falls  off.
10. Take your bike for a quick spin before the ride, checking the derailleurs by going through all the gears.

Note that I  did not  list obvious items such as checking the tire air pressure, helmet for tightness, and shoe clips for proper release. These items are routine.
Pre-ride bike inspections are important  for  your  safety  and  the safety of other cyclists. I strongly encourage you to perform inspections before each ride and possibly again during the rest or lunch stop.  Next time we cycle together, let’s do the inspection together.