Cyclist Safety: 5 Important Pre-ride Bike Checks Before You Ride To Avoid Bicycle Accidents


Do the following checks on your bike regularly to make sure it’s in good working order.

Front Tyre And Wheels

Lift the front end of the bike by the handlebar stem and then:

  • Give the top of the wheel a bang with your hand to check that it doesn’t fall out of the forks or move from side to side.
  • Check the wheel doesn’t move from side to side when you try to wobble it, to be sure the bearings aren’t worn.
  • Spin the front wheel – the brakes shouldn’t rub on the wheel rim.
  • Squeeze the sides of the tyre – inflate it if it feels soft.
  • Look for gaps, cuts or bulges on the tyres – these are signs that the tyres are worn and need to be replaced.

If you have a front mudguard, there should be at least 5mm between the front mudguards and the tyre. Remove the mudguard if it rubs against the tip of your shoe when you pedal.

Lift the rear of the bike by the saddle and go through the same checks for the back wheels.

Brakes

Apply the front brakes. Check that:

  • The brakes work – try pushing the bike forward with the brakes on.
  • The brake pads sit evenly on the wheel rim – they shouldn’t touch at one end and not the other.
  • The cables inside the brake levers aren’t frayed.
  • The brake levers and handgrips are tight on the handlebars, all the nuts and screws are attached and the ends of the handlebar tube are covered.

Apply the back brake and go through the same checks. The back tyre should slide, not roll, when you apply the brakes and push the bike forward.

Handlebars And Steering

All the parts on the handlebars should be tight and you should be able to steer freely. Release the brakes, stand in front of the front wheel and grip it between your knees. Then make sure nothing is loose when you try to:

  • turn the handlebars from side to side
  • apply the brakes and try to rotate the handlebars

Saddle

Your saddle should be set at a height that’s comfortable for you.

Place one heel on the pedal. Your leg should straighten when the pedal is furthest from the saddle. Make sure you don’t raise the saddle high enough to see the height limit mark on the seatpost. If the saddle needs to be this high for you to sit comfortably, you probably need a bigger bike.

Move towards the rear of the bike and hold the saddle tightly. Check that you can’t move it up and down or from side to side. If it moves, tighten it.

Chain, Gears And Pedals

Ask someone to work the pedals by hand while you hold the rear wheel off the ground by the saddle. Then:

  • Shift through all the gears on the back sprocket (a small wheel through which the chain passes) and front gear changer to check the chain stays on and moves smoothly.
  • Wobble each pedal from side to side to check they don’t move too much. If they do, the bearings in the bottom bracket need replacing.

Make sure the chain isn’t hanging off, broken or rusty. Lubricate the chain with some oil if necessary.

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