This Pre-Ride Inspection That Will Save Your Life

Worried about flat tyre fixes and making other roadside repairs while out riding? Here's what you should do and look for before you head out the door.


Emily Furia and the Editors of Bicycling |

Worried about flat tyre fixes and making other roadside repairs while out riding? Here’s what you should do and look for before you head out the door. – By

handlebars

Check for Play in Your Handlebars

Loose handlebars could unexpectedly turn sideways or slip downward mid-ride, causing a loss in control.

Check: Your stem for loose bolts, and your handlebar for side-to-side and up-and-down play. Brace the front wheel between your knees and give the bar a side-to-side tug, then apply downward pressure on the hoods.

Fix: Tighten loose stem bolts with a torque wrench.

wheels_1

Look for Loose Spokes & Wobbly Wheels

Wobbly wheels can become unstable while riding, and may cause the tyre to run on the brake pad, which could lead to a dangerous blowout.

Check: Wheels for trueness and broken spokes. Put your bike in a workstand (if you have one; otherwise, you may need to put it upside down with the handlebars and seat resting on the floor). Spin each wheel, using the brake pads as reference points to find wobbles.

Fix: Replace broken spokes and tighten loose ones, then re-true your wheel. (Often, too-loose spokes will creak under load, so you may need to get on your bike and rock it forward and back to find a bad one.)

tires

Test Your Tyre Pressure

Under-inflated bike tyres are susceptible to pinch flats and a loss of control, especially in turns. Over-inflated tires, on the other hand, can blow off the rim.

Check: Use a tyre gauge or bike pump with a built-in meter to check your tyres for proper inflation.

Fix: Adjust the air pressure according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Never inflate your tyres beyond the maximum pressure listed on the sidewall.

bell-zephyr

Give Your Helmet a Once-Over

If your helmet’s not in good shape, it might not be able to protect you in a crash, so it’s important to know that it’s up to the task.

Check: Go over your helmet, looking for cracks, age, and obvious signs of damage. Most (if not all) organised races and rides require that you wear a helmet, and have a helmet check. Some also have age limits on helmets—usually three or five years.

Fix: Replace your helmet if it’s damaged or more than three years old.

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