If you’re riding every day then your bicycle is probably undergoing a lot of wear and tear on each ride. like all other machines, maintenance is mandatory for the efficient and smooth functioning of the machine’s internals.
Apart from standard maintenance, bicycles need the occasional check-ups to ensure everything is in order. It’s unrealistic to think that you can check every part of the bike before every ride, however here are some things that you can look into before every ride as it isn’t as time-consuming. It may seem extensive but once you do it a few times it’ll come naturally to you. It also makes you aware of components that are functionally more prone to wear and tear over time. Here are 5 things to check before every ride.
An essential component on any bicycle. Never take a chance by compromising on brakes. Lift your bike off the ground one wheel at a time and spin it freely. Make sure there’s no pad rub or interference from the brake pads on the wheels. Then squeeze the brake lever while the wheel spins and make sure the pads grab the rim/rotor immediately and have a “sharp bite”. Make sure your brake pads can fully grab the wheel/ rotor without the lever touching the handlebar. If you have rim brakes, make sure the brake pads only make contact with your rim braking surface and not anywhere else.
If your brakes aren’t feeling right then you probably need to adjust the barrel adjuster or in the case of hydraulic disc brakes, you might need to bleed the whole system. Everyone once in a while a check your brake pads for wear. Worn out pads are ineffective and potentially dangerous.
Also, look at your drivetrain to identify any damage or gunk stuck in the drivetrain parts. Any amount of dirt can affect the efficiency of power delivery as dirt builds more internal resistance within the drivetrain. Wear and tear is also accelerated on a neglected drivetrain. Facing technical difficulties related to the drivetrain can leave you stranded if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Just inspect your chain and cassette before every ride. Look out for damaged side plates or stiff bearings. Check your shifting as well, rough or notchy shifting may be a result of improper shifting techniques and not taking care of your chain. Make sure your chain does not fall off at either extreme of your gear range as this may mean your limit screws aren’t set properly. A constantly dropping chain can be really annoying and dangerous if the chain
While you’re at it try and move the crank arms side to side. Any movement would indicate a loose crank arm bolt or a worn-out bottom bracket, either of which would require immediate attention.
Give your wheels a quick spin and make sure it spins true – this basically means that the rims should be completely straight all around. A simple way to check if your wheel is true is by check the gap between the brake pads and the rim. Spin the wheel and check, if the gap is inconsistent then your rim is bent. If your rims are bent you will need to get them trued at the earliest. Visually inspect the spokes for any bends or broken spokes. Also, ensure your Quick Release skewers/ Thru Axles are tightened adequately.
Start by visually inspecting your tires for anything unusual or any sharp objects that may be stuck to it, look out for a balding tread pattern which can be very dangerous. Bald tires lack grip and can lead to a loss of traction during a ride. They are also a lot more prone to punctures as there is less rubber on the outside to prevent penetration from sharp objects. After this, you can have a look at the tires for air pressure. Press on the tires with your fingers and have an approximate feel for how much air is in your tires.
If your tires are balding it’s recommended to have them replaced at the earliest. Always fill the recommended amount of air in your tires to improve peddling and rolling efficiency. Doing so will also ensure that you don’t encounter pinch flats.
Check for any play within important components like your headset, stem and seat post. Manufacturers have set specific torque ratings for each of these components. If any of these parts were to loosen up and fall off during a ride it could cause major problems. Ensure you regularly tighten these bolts up to spec before a long ride. Vibrations can cause these bolts to come undone over time. The torque ratings for all bolts are usually mentioned on the components itself.
We’ve covered the most important areas to look out for when inspecting your bicycle. Taking a look at these components before every ride is a good idea. Follow this simple checklist before every ride. It’ll keep your rides smoother and hassle-free for longer.
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WHAT I LOVE ABOUT CYCLING
I’m an avid mountain biker and I like riding fast and flowy singletrack. As I keep riding, I continuously work on honing my riding skills. I like to ride whenever possible, especially with friends. I also like to influence folk into getting to ride more often.
Working on bicycles has also been a keen interest of mine for quite some time.
DISCIPLINE: Mountain biking and Road biking
CURRENT BIKE: Merida One Twenty 9.600 & Specialized Allez Elite DSW
DREAM BIKE: Santa Cruz 5010