There’s so much to look forward to in the new year! While many people are thinking of resolutions they usually break within the first few months I’m thinking about continuing what’s worked for me almost 4 years now. After putting the hustle and bustle of the holidays behind me it’s time to get back to riding.
Whether you ride year-round or in the spring when the snow melts one thing you should do each year is to make sure your bicycle is in tip-top shape to ride. Parts can shake loose and bikes should be inspected and readjusted yearly especially if you ride daily. Yearly bike maintenance is imperative for safe riding.
Yesterday I had a sobering reality while doing my visual check before a ride. I checked the front and back wheel levers for my quick release and everything looked good. I usually make sure they’re flipped down tight but I don’t physically manipulate them unless they look like they moved.
Right before we took off I noticed while jerking my handlebars (by accident) that something sounded loose. I first thought it was my cell phone holder on my handlebars because I was having trouble tightening it down. It wasn’t.
I shook it again and thought I saw my front tire move. No way! I picked up my front end and spun the tire, it was moving fine. Then I pushed the wheel sideways and noticed it was moving back and forth a tiny bit. OMG!
Although everything looked good I knew something was wrong. I tried the wheel release and it was very loose. I had a vision of happily riding along watching my front wheel come off and crashing violently. It was my worst nightmare!
I released the wheel fully, tightened the release screw, and put the wheel back on. I made sure the wheel was solid and the release screw was as tight as I could work it. I also checked the rear release which was good. I had saved myself from a world of hurt and a terrible accident.
This is one reason I’m against quick-release wheels! Yes, it’s nice to get the wheel off easily for many reasons but if they aren’t tight your wheel can come off. Some bikes have a guard in place so if it accidentally opens your wheel is held on but it’s no guarantee.
I don’t wish to scare you but I rode with a friend some months ago who thought he was having a front brake problem until he discovered the wheel release had come open. He rode like that for miles and was extremely lucky his wheel didn’t come off. People don’t usually have that kind of dumb luck.
Now, most new bikes come with quick-release wheels (front and back) so it’s very important to do a visual hands-on check of your bicycle every time you take a ride. Safety first!
What To Check Before A Ride
Take the time to look at your bike before a ride. You will want to put your hands on it.
- Check tire pressure and add air if needed. The correct pressure will be on your tires.
- Check the frame for any damage or rust and cables for any bends, or frayed edges.
- Try your brake handles and make sure your breaks are engaging. The brake pads or discs shouldn’t be worn.
- Make sure your tires have good tread on them with no aging rubber or cracks in the sidewalls.
- Manually check your front and back wheel release levers making sure they are tight and flipped shut.
- Check the condition of your chain. Chains need to be kept clean and lubricated.
- Keep your (rear wheel) gears clear and clean of debris.
- Is your seat the correct height? Your leg on the lowest pedal should be fully extended with a slight bend in your knee.
- Handlebars should be straight and tight.
- Secure any gear properly and keep away from your spokes.
- If wearing pants use clips or straps to keep them tight at the ankles and away from your spokes.
If you find something you can’t fix do a search for a good bike shop in your area. They will be glad to answer any questions you might have. They can tell you how much air should be in your tires (if you can’t find it) and can do yearly maintenance on your bicycle if you can’t do it yourself. A good bike shop is the best tool you can have.
Yearly Bike Maintanence Musts
- Inspect and adjust your derailer.
- Inspect and adjust your brakes and brake system.
- Inspect and adjust your chain and drive system.
- Clean and lubricate your chain and drive system.
- Clean and inspect your frame for wear and rust.
- Inspect and tighten screws and parts on your frame.
- Check tires for loose or bent spokes, worn bearings, etc.
- Inspect tire rubber for wear.
- Inspect all cables, cable housings, and connections.
- Inspect handlebars, hand grips or handlebar tape, mounted brake handles, and shift levers.
- Inspect fender clearance and hardware.
If you take your bike into a shop they will do all of this for you including cleaning your bike. Ask your shop for a list of what they charge for maintenance, cleaning, and services.
I’m excited to have my 4 year riding anniversary coming up on Feb. 20th! Although I’ve had a bicycle my whole life I’ve only spent the last 4 years being serious about it. I started riding 20-30 miles every other day for my health and sanity. I was 60 pounds overweight and depressed on meds in very bad health after having the worst 4 years of my life. Bike riding is now a healthy habit that has kept my weight off and helped me to get over my sleeping problems. That’s what made me do this site I wanted to spread the word about how healthy bike riding is for people of all ages. (Read my full story HERE.)
Whether you believe in resolutions or not I hope this is the year you decide to get healthy and stay that way. I’d like to encourage you to consider riding a bicycle if you don’t already. It’s low-impact, gives you a strong core, a healthy heart, promotes good sleep, improves your balance and is so much fun! It makes me feel like a kid again.
On Bike With Bekkie, I have many articles that talk about the benefits of riding a bicycle and getting healthy. How important it is to eat right. What happens when you ride a bicycle and more. I have lovely photographs I’ve taken while riding the Bay Trail. Having trouble sleeping? I got you!
The Bay Trail is a mostly paved trail that runs around the San Francisco Bay with a view of the city, the SFO airport, and many other gorgeous landmarks. The beauty of this area can’t be beaten with its marshes, man-made waterways, and the creatures that live here. Click HERE to see the map.
I wish you good health and happiness in 2020!