Spring is finally upon us and as the weather warms up, many cyclists will be hitting the road. However, before you jump on your bike and take off, you need to make sure that your bike is in a good working condition.
A thorough inspection of your bike is very important to make sure that there aren’t any problems when you are riding throughout your area, especially if the bike has not been used in a while. One thing that you don’t want to do is to ignore a small issue until it ends up becoming a big problem that may endanger your safety.
Whether you bike to school or work, or you simply enjoy leisurely rides through the park, bike maintenance is an important topic. In recognition of National Bike Month, which takes place in the month of May, we’ve put together a list of things you can do to make sure that your bike is good to go this spring.
Have a fun — and safe — bike ride!
Good Tires Mean a Smooth Ride
Many cyclists understand the importance of having tires that are in a good condition before riding. However, if your bike has been sitting inside for a while, it is quite likely that the tire may be flat or low on air. You may need to get the pump out, but not just any old pump.
When inflating tires, you should invest in a high-quality air pump with large gauges that are easy to read, according to Popular Mechanics. It is also important to stick to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure level so that the tire does not pop on you when riding due to overinflation.
Also, while inspecting your tires, look for any cracks or dry rot that may have developed over winter and replace the tires as soon as you can. Dry rot can cause your tires to blowout mid-ride and you will lose all control of the bike.
Your bicycle wheels should always move in a fluid motion and not be wobbly or jerky when riding around town. The best way to inspect the wheels is to turn your bike upside down and spin the wheels, according to the American Automobile Association.
The wheels should spin evenly and not brush against the frame of the bike. If there appears to be an obstruction, check the tightness of the spokes by running your fingers around them. Tighten any spokes that feel loose or twists easily.
Infographic from Lifehacker.com.
Adjust Bike Chain Tension
Bicycle chains can create a dangerous situation for you when riding, if not properly maintained. If a chain is too loose, it may come off while riding and if the chain is too tight, it can make for a difficult ride and damage your gears.
The best way to adjust a bicycle chain is to loosen the rear wheel nuts on each side and pull the rear wheel back to take slack out of the chain, according to Popular Mechanics. The bicycle chain tension should not move more than a quarter to half an inch.
Take Time for Brakes
Functional brakes can mean life or death for a cyclist, so it is imperative that you spend ample time making sure that your brakes work properly.
When inspecting your bike’s brake levers, make sure they engage both sides of the brakes on each wheel, according to AAA. If there is a long delay on the lever, unscrew the barrel adjuster a few times and test to see if it does what it is supposed to do.
Also, verify that your brake pads aren’t loose or wiggle when they press against the bike’s rim. If the brake pads are worn or cracked, replace them immediately before taking the bike out onto the street.
Check Your Lights
Visibility on the road is imperative to bike riders and having a broken light can spell trouble with a capital T.
Inspect your bicycle lights and reflectors for any blown or cracked bulbs. Get a friend or family member to help you check your headlights and brake lights. Replace any lights that are not working or producing a dim light.
Also, if you don’t have front and rear lights on your bicycle, it may be best to get them for your own safety. Some states require bicyclists to have working lights while riding during the dark hours, so don’t get fined for not having this essential safeguard on your bike.
Get Into Gear
Smooth transitions from gear to gear can help to make a bike ride enjoyable. If you experience any weird delays or loud clicks when changing gears, it may signal a problem.
Before taking the bike out onto the road, run through the gears by spinning the pedals, according to Popular Mechanics. Make sure that the gears hit the shift points evenly without any disruptions. If you need to make adjustments, use a screwdriver to modify the derailleurs.
Proper bicycle maintenance may take some time, but the fruits of your labor will show in the form of a nice and exhilarating ride. You will be ahead of the pack when it comes to being ready this spring season.
However, even by doing all that you can to make sure that you are safe on the road, there may be others who may not share your accident-prevention mindset. If you were involved in an accident due to another’s negligence while biking, we may be able to help. To learn what our personal injury attorneys may be able to do for you, please fill out our free case evaluation form today.