One of the most stressful points of learning how to drive a vehicle has to do with giving the car a ‘once-over’ before even considering turning over the key. It’s not easy either. It involves checking the tire pressure, taillights, rear-view mirror, windshield wiper fluid, and about 27 million other things that would just make you late for your date. Whether you followed these tips or not, the same principles should be adopted when it comes to going out for a bike ride. A car with a burnt taillight will still get you home but a bike with a busted frame, not so much. Follow this pre-ride bike checklist to make your cruise as smooth as possible.
One thing “casual” bike riders fail to do, is to equip their cycle with a utility pack mounted onto their front handlebars or seat post. The pack/bag/basket should be equipped with certain key essentials as your rides get longer and longer. For example, having replacement tire tubes, a hand pump, tire patches, and a bicycle multi-tool is quite useful when you’re in a messy situation. Bicycle carry-alls are not only great for emergencies, but they also allow you to carry a cell phone, headlight batteries, and energy snacks in a conveniently-placed spot.
As recommended by bike manufacturer standards, the most important thing to check before taking off on any ride is the tire pressure of your bicycle. Riding on an underinflated tire will make pedaling much more difficult and could wind up with a completely flat tire, which would leave you stranded along the trail -unless you thought of bringing your bicycle carry-all.
A brake check only takes a few seconds. It’s a lot easier to do this before hopping onto your bike saddle as opposed to waiting until you barrel down the first hill you come across. The brake pads don’t necessarily need to be changed frequently but the cables and the alignment do need adjusting on a regular basis.
Frame and Bolt Once-Over
Unfortunately, if your frame ever snaps, it’s probably going to do so without warning. Don’t expect a warning from your friends either. This being said, it still helps to give the handlebar stem, seat post, and major bolts a quick inspection before you ride, to see if they are loose or oxidized.
It’s best to clean off your chain after a ride instead of letting dust and dirt settle into the nooks and crannies. Don’t wait until your next cruise to take care of this. Inspect the chain to see if there are any burrs or elongation and give the tires a couple cycles to see if any chain lubrication is needed. Prevention is key.
Lights and Reflectors
Finally, if your bike is equipped with lights, make sure they work and that you’ve packed extra batteries. Inspect them to make sure that the reflectors aren’t cracked and that they are still intact.
Although some surprises, such as a rabid family of possums crossing the trail, may still occur from time to time, but that one’s out of your control. However, you can prevent most issues with a thorough pre-inspection that will help limit the issues that are preventable on your end.
What’s your pre-riding ritual? Did we forget anything important in our checklist? Let us know in the comments below. Happy trails!