Pre-flight checks for your bike

Cyclist pumping tyres before a rideEasy as ABCD: give your bike a quick check before you ride to catch any potential problems early. Photo: Helen Cronin

No matter how many engineers and maintenance staff look after a plane, pilots always personally run through a series of checks before they take off. If something is not right, the best place to find out is on the ground.

Even though you don’t have to worry about being 5,000 ft above the ground if something goes wrong, it still pays to make sure your bike is roadworthy before you head out the front gate. Much better to find a problem before you find yourself stuck 30km from home.

The ABCD quick check will pick up any potential problems before they get you into trouble, and it only takes a few minutes to do.

“A” stands for “air”. Check that you’ve got the correct pressure in your tyres. (It’s written on the wall of the tyre if you’re not sure what it should be.)

Check the condition of your tyres. Perished walls, cuts or bulges, badly worn treads are all singing out to be replaced.

Make sure your wheels are true and there are no broken spokes. They should also be fastened securely to the frame. Sometimes the back wheel especially doesn’t slot back into the frame properly and can work itself lose as you ride.

“B” stands for “brakes”. Check that the brake blocks are not rubbing on your wheel rims. Not only will it make you work harder, you’ll be wearing out brake blocks and rims quickly.

Make sure you don’t have too much lever travel before your brakes actually come on. That’s a sign of stretched cables that need adjusting. Check the cables for any signs of fraying too.

“C” stands for “chain”. Keep it well lubricated with a specialist bike chain lubricant. It’s not only quieter, it saves wear on your chain so you don’t have to replace it so often.

Make sure it’s not bent and runs smoothly over cogs when changing gears.

Finally, “D” stands for “drop check”. Lift the back end of your bike about 10 cm off the ground and let go. Repeat with the front end. If something is loose you’ll hear it rattle.

Anything from your head stem to a water bottle cage or your bottom bracket can loosen up as you ride. It’s definitely wise to tighten them up before you keep riding.

If ABCD all checks out fine, you’ve got clearance to take off on your next cycling adventure. See you on the road soon, God willing.

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