Make sure your bike is safe to ride!

Posted by Anneka on March 30, 2014 in Bicycle Safety , Events

The quick, easy way to check over your bike before (and after!) NOLA Bike to Work Day

The third annual NOLA Bike to Work Day is right around the corner, on Tuesday, April 8th!

If you haven’t ridden your bike in a while, it’s a good idea to take a look at a few important components on your bike. Of course, even if you ride regularly, it’s important to check your bike often. A little attention before you ride can save you from being stranded with a flat, or a more expensive fix later on.

Read on to learn the basic bike checkover, or the ABC Quick Check.

Air.

Check the tires to ensure they are properly inflated. One of the most common causes of flats is low tire pressure. All tires have a recommended pressure on the side of the tire, and you can check the gauge of a pump to make sure the numbers match. Most tires Check your tires for any debris that may be embedded in the tire. Flick the debris free to prevent it from being worked into the tire and causing a flat later on. Also, check for bald spots, damage or loose threads. If you see any major issues it’s time to get new tires.

Brakes.

First, firmly squeeze the brake levers. There should be a thumb’s width gap between the handle bars and the brake lever. Get your brakes adjusted if this isn’t the case, which you can do by adjusting the barrel adjustor. Next, take a look at the brake pads. Most brake pads have grooves etched into them, and once they are almost nonexistent, it’s time for new brake pads. Additionally, they should be wearing evenly – if this isn’t the case, it’s also time for a brake adjustment.

Chain.

The chain and gears should be running smoothly. To test the movement of the chain and gears, lift the bike a few inches off the ground and turn the pedals backward. The movement should be clean and smooth with no squeaks. Periodically test your crank arms to ensure they aren’t loose – if you feel any play while pedaling, your bottom bracket bearings may be loose, and it’s time for an adjustment.

One last thing. If you have a quick release seat post or quick release wheels ensure they are firmly closed.

If something doesn’t look or feel right and you don’t feel comfortable fixing it yourself, it’s always a good idea to get your bike checked out by a mechanic. There are multiple bike shops around town equipped to do so.

If you need to do it on the cheap or want to learn how to do it yourself, check out Plan B and Rubarb. Both are community bike shops with used parts for cheap and volunteers who will help you fix your bike. (Note: Plan B is currently closed, but plans to reopen. Check the website for updates.)

Want more information? Check out this video on the ABC Quick Check by the League American of Bicyclists.

-Michael Tatarski

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