Things to check every time you ride
- Inspect the tyres. Check for adequate air pressure in the tyres. “Most tyres will have the proper tyre-pressure range printed on the sidewall. For the majority of road tyres, a pressure of 100 to 110 psi is best. Check for any cuts or nicks in the sidewall or tread of the tyres where the inner tube can bulge through and cause a flat. Also check for adequate tread on both tyres. “A tyre needs to be replaced when the tyre’s cross section is no longer round; it will take on a square shape. Replace the tyre if it is severely worn or has cuts.
- Check the wheels. Make sure the quick-release skewers are tightened correctly. Spin the wheels to check that they are true and don’t rub on the brake pads or anywhere on the frame or fork.
- Test the brakes. Spin the wheels and apply the front and rear brakes independently of each other. Check that the brakes engage before the brake lever reaches the handlebars and that there is enough stopping power to be safe. It is also important to ensure the brake pads are not worn. Inspect where the brake pads hit the rim (and not the tyres) – they should contact the rim evenly on both sides.
- Lube the chain. There are many styles of lube available and each works differently in different conditions. If you’re unsure what to use or if you like to keep only one type around for all conditions, then use a light oil. Apply a small amount to the inside of the chain as you pedal backward so the entire chain gets an even coat. Ensure the drive train is free from excessive grime.
- Check the shifting. Check that the rear derailleur shifts evenly and smoothly between all the gears on the cassette. Also check that the chain doesn’t fall off the front chain rings when performing front derailleur shifts and that it shifts smoothly between the small and large chain rings.
- Helmet. As you get ready to put on your helmet, look it over once to make sure there are no cracks on the outer shell or inner surface. Check too, that the straps are adjusted so that the helmet fits snugly, and sits down on your forehead, hitting somewhere above your eyebrows. A common mistake is to wear a helmet that rides up too high, which won’t protect your forehead in the event of a wipeout.