It’s a good practice to perform a basic safety check on your bike before and after a long ride at least once every week. This will help to identify any potential problems that can become major issues in the future.
#1 Wheels, Brakes, and Hub
Inspect the wheel mounting mechanism is in position. Before riding, make sure the closure system is fully secured. Modern bikes have quick-releases or bolt-through axles. Usually, these type of axles are threaded all the way to the hub and screwed into the fork leg.
If your bicycle has quick-release levers, clamp the lever downward to secure it and wind the nut until it’s tight. Now, open the lever and turn the nut fully. This will allow you to tighten the quick-release lever without any force.
Next, check whether the hub is in perfect condition. You can do this by rocking the wheel side to side for any movement sideways. Spin the wheel, if you hear any squealing or grinding, replace the bearing or service it.
#2 Suspension and Tires
A safety check of a bike isn’t complete without checking whether the tires are firmly seated in the rims. Inspect the bead, where the tire meets the rim. Ensure the bead to appear uniform all the way around. Otherwise, reinstall the tire.
When the tire is correctly seated in the wheel rims, examine the sidewalls and threads for signs of damage or wear. Torn or worn tires can cause dangerous accidents, so change the tires if you see any such problems.
Next, check the fork for signs of hairline cracks or other damages. In case of a suspension fork, inspect whether the stanchions have scratches. In addition, check if there is any excess suspension fluid close to the bolts.
However, it’s normal to see small amounts of oil or fluids on the stanchions. If you’ve air suspensions on the front and rear wheels, inspect whether the sag is normal or not once a month.
Inspect for any play in the headset by moving the fork forwards and backwards with the front brake applied. If you notice any knocks, find where it is originating from by putting your finger on the joints. Now, lift the wheel and keep turning the handlebars slowly. If there is any resistance or grinding, replace your headset or service it.
#4 Frame and Accessories
Most riders seem to forgo this bike safety check, despite its importance. Check whether your water bottle, cage, and other frame accessories are attached properly. Also, inspect the entire frame carefully, particularly the welds, for hairline fissures in the metal. If you’ve doubts, get it examined by a bike technician.
#5 Cranks and pedals
Check whether the drivetrain is running smoothly by spinning the cranks backwards. If the drivetrain functions properly, the bottom bracket should also be in a perfect working state.
Examine the chainrings for any damaged, missing or worn teeth. Next, to check for any play, resistance or grinding, rock the pedals towards the frame. If you feel any kind of play, replace the bottom bracket.
#6 Seatpost and Saddle
This process may be one of the most ignored ones when it comes to safety check on bicycles. Most riders just forget about the saddle and seatpost, but it is essential nonetheless.
Clean the seatpost by taking it out of the frame. Put some grease before reinstalling it. If your seatpost is made of carbon fibre, then use ‘carbon grease’. After reinstalling the seatpost, make sure the saddle is mounted securely in a horizontal position.
#7 Drivetrain and Rear Wheel
Inspect whether the chains run evenly by pedalling by hand. Repeat the process by shifting the front and rear derailleurs by changing gears. Normally, the bike chain will shift up and down according to the related shifter. If it doesn’t or shows some resistance, make some adjustments. If the chains make rattles or creaks while riding, check them out immediately.
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