It’s officially Spring and, if your commute looks anything like mine, that means tons of riders are taking their bikes out of hibernation and hitting the road again! But riding for transportation means reliability’s a must, and too often the newest class of commuters are held back by simple maintenance issues on the road. In today’s post, we'll run through a typical pre-ride check to ensure you can make it all the way to your destination without any unnecessary pit stops!
You won’t get anywhere without air in your tires. Flat tires will damage your wheels and be a pain to push, low pressure can lead to pinch-flats and mid-commute patches, so you want to be sure you’re aired up before you hit the road. If you just topped off your tires, maybe all you need is a “pinch test”, but if it’s been a week or more since you last added air, whip out the pump and stuff those suckers up! If you need a refresher on how much pressure is ideal, read up, and always be sure you have enough air for the ride ahead.
Goin’s great, but if you can’t stop when you want, you’re going to have a bad time. Before you ride, always check your brakes for function and wear. Pull on the levers and make sure they lock up your wheels without the levers going all the way to the handlebars (you want to be able to slide your thumb in between the lever and the bar when they’re fully pulled). Then check the pads for wear to make sure they don’t need a replacement before you roll out. If it is time to tune or update your brakes, we’ve got the blog for you right here.
Cleaned and lubed? Take a quick look for debris and grime, and check the lube level by touching the chain with your finger. You’re hoping for two light lines of lube left on your skin. If it’s grimy or gunky, clean and lube that puppy so everything will spin smoothly wherever you’re headed. Also double check the chain tension if you’re riding fixed. If you’ve got a half-inch of play in the chain, you’re good to go. If it’s loose enough to jump off the chainring or cog, you’ve gone beyond “track slack” and need to tighten that puppy up!
Check Your Privilege Bolts
This one’s the easiest to ignore, but the worst when things go pear-shaped. At least once a week, and ideally before every ride, you ought to check your bolts to make sure everything’s still as snugged up as it’s supposed to be. Pedals, chainring bolts, seatpost, seatpost clamp, stem, brakes, brake levers, anything that can seriously mess up your day if it all of a sudden falls off or fails to engage. It may seem paranoid, but you’d be surprised just how much all those potholes, curbs, and sick whip skidz can rattle bolts into backing off a bit. Re-up your peace of mind with a quick check that everything’s secure before you hit the road.
And don’t forget visibility. There’s nothing quite as disheartening as turning that quick errand into a dinner ride, drinks, party, after-party, etc… only to find out that your batteries are dead when it’s finally time to roll home. Double check that your lights are charged before you head out (or that the backups in your bag have juice in case the first set doesn’t survive the night). Don’t be a ninja – light yourself up to stay safe out there.
And the last thing to check is your EDC bag. You know, the bag you keep all your tools, spares, toys, and necessities in. Mine has all my on-the-road-repair kit, as well as all the little things that make life a little bit easier. Take a peek into what I carry here, and while you’re checking your own supplies, snap a pic for a chance to win this month’s Photo Challenge and a brand new bag of your very own!
And that’s it, now you’re ready to hit the road! Your bike’s in great shape and you’re prepared for whatever the world might throw your way. We’ll see you out there!