DIY HOME MECHANIC SERIES –ABC QUICK CHECK

Shaun George BOTS Guides, D.I.Y, Mechanics, Tips & Tricks

It’s important to keep your bike in tip-top working order, not only from a mechanical standpoint but also from a safety standpoint. Before each ride, make sure you conduct a quick series of checks to ensure your bike is ready and safe to ride. Use the “ABC Quick Check” to remind yourself of this inspection every time. If you feel that your bike fails the check then you should have the problem rectified immediately before riding.

“A” IS FOR AIR

  • Inflate your bike tires to the rated pressure as indicated on the sidewall of the tire, (A bicycle pump with a gauge is recommended).
  • Use the pressure gauge to ensure proper tire pressure. (Bicycle tires need to be re-inflated more often than car tires – properly inflated tires reduce the chance of flats.)
  • Check for damage to tire tread and sidewall; replace the tire if worn out beyond markings on the tire.

“B” IS FOR BRAKES

  • Rotate wheels to check that the brake pads aren’t rubbing.
  • Ensure the pads are in line with the rim braking surface (rim brakes).
  • Inspect brake pads for wear; replace is there is less than 1/4″ of pad left.
  • Check adjustment on brake pads; make sure they do not rub tire or dive into spokes (rim brakes).
  • Check adjustment of brake levers. When applied, there should be least 1″ gap between the lever and the handlebar.

“C” IS FOR CHAIN

  • Visually inspect your chain, cassette and chainrings. They should be clean and gunk free.
  • No squeaking, squealing or chattering should be heard from the drivetrain.
  • If your chain skips while riding, you might need a new chain, a new cassette, and/or an adjustment.
  • Use a lubricant that’s specifically designed for bicycles.
  • Make sure there is no excessive play or unwanted movement in the crank or cassette.

HOW TO CHECK IF YOUR CHAIN IS WORN OUT:

  1. Shift your gears so that your chain is in the biggest ring (front) and smallest cog on the cassette (rear).
  1. Pull the chain at the front of the chainring (as shown). If the chain starts to lift off the top and/or the bottom of where it sits on the chainring teeth, this means that the chain is starting to wear or is worn.

“QUICK” IS FOR QUICK RELEASE

  • Apply some pressure with your hand on top of the wheel. The wheel should not budge at all.
  • Do not apply excessive force to close the quick release lever – it should be effortless.
  • The quick-release lever needs to be fully engaged at a 90° angle.
  • Your quick release should be pointing upwards to ensure that nothing catches or snags on it.

Check out our ABC Pre-ride safety check video that will help you out with the checklist mentioned above.


Even after all these checks, it is still important to do a once over to ensure nothing is loose, broken or on the verge of failure. The checklist may seem extensive but it’s not time consuming at all. In fact you can complete the whole checklist in under 5 minutes. Stay safe, keep riding!

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