When was the last time you inspected your bike before you ventured out on a ride?
Simple checks that take less time than making your morning brew can make the difference to whether you have a trouble free ride or are making the phone call to get you home.
Here is a simple to follow checklist that I personally follow to ensure that I am safe out on the roads.
Tyre Pressure - Road Riding
Always check your tyre pressure before riding. The main reason I do this is to cut down on the unfortunate punctures that can stop you in your tracks.
You can find the maximum tyre pressure recommendations on the side of your tyre wall. Personally I pump mine up to the maximum pressure each time I go for a ride.
Now if it looks like it will rain or the road is wet I run them around 10-15 psi less to give me a little more grip on the road.
Tyre Pressure Off-Road Riding
Depending on the terrain you ride in and the style e.g. Cross-Country or Downhill. This will determine the tyre pressure you should be running.
Normal rule of thumb is around the 30-40psi ranges giving you more traction with lower pressure. The negative is you are more susceptible to pinch flats due to the lower pressure.
Once you have completed your tyre pressure checks I then check the tyre for cuts and glass.
This is a crucial area and one that can also help avoid the dreaded punctures. I have a spoke that has been sharpened to a point but anything that has a fine point will do.
I use this spoke to remove any glass that is trapped in the tyre to ensure it does not work it way through the tread and into the tube.
Most tyres will receive cuts from the rough roads and from sharp objects. If the cut looks deep then I would advise you to remove the tyre from the rim to inspect further on the inside to see if the cut goes all the way through to where the tube is.
If the cut does go all the way through the tyre then you have 2 choices: One is to replace the tyre with a new one or the other option is to repair. (A tyre repair tech tip will be available shortly)
This area should be a no brainer! Check your brakes before leaving home to ensure they are working correctly. Also check your brake pads to make sure they still have some meat on them. If unsure please take it to your LBS to get there expert opinions.
They might only need a slight adjustment and it is a small price to pay for a crucial part of your equipment.
A buckled wheel can run against your brakes slowing you down and potentially rub a hole though the side of your tyre if the buckle is severe enough.
To check this just spin the wheel checking both wheels to ensure they are true (running straight). If not then a trip to your LBS is in order to get your wheels set straight.
Loose spokes can alter the tension of the wheel and if left can cause further damage to the wheel.
Make sure that your chain is lubed up and ready to roll. No kinks or rusty chains allowed.
Are you riding in low light or at night? If riding in Low light or at night, my advise is to have more than one rear light and a decent front light.
If your rear light has a blinking mode, use this as it will save battery life and attract the attention of drivers. Check your lights are bright, as dim lights are an indication of low batteries and will be harder for drivers to see. You don't want you batteries going flat when you are away from home and it is dark.
Check the laws in your State to ensure that you are equipped with the required safety equipment. Having said that the more you can do to make yourself seen at night the safer you will be.
Make sure you are wearing some!