How to give your bike a safety check before cycling this summer

Last year saw a tidal wave of new cyclists hit the roads, in order to get around safely during the pandemic. 

What’s more, the prolonged heatwave of 2020 made cycling an even more appealing option – even retailers couldn’t keep up with the demand.

This year, we haven’t been quite so lucky with the weather. But it finally seems to be heading in the right direction and lots of cyclists are brushing off their bikes ready for summer. 

Cycling is still very much a priority, too.

A new online study – commissioned for World Bike Day by VanMoof in partnership with YouGov – found that 1 in 3 people in the UK, Europe and North America said it’s more important their city prioritises cycling now, than before Covid-19.

If you’re a cycling newbie, it’s essential to know how to look after your bike.

However, if you’re picking up your bike again after a long break, it’s also crucial to perform some simple safety checks – before getting back on the saddle.

We’ve asked experts to share how to test your bike and make sure it’s safe to ride before hitting the tarmac. 

The drop test

Chris Evans, instructor at Plas y Brenin, the National Outdoor Centre, says you can start by lifting your bike a few inches off the ground and dropping it back on the floor.

He adds: ‘There shouldn’t be any unusual clanks, bangs or clicks. Your chain might make contact with the frame making a tink noise – this is fine. A juddering thwack from the forks, for example, isn’t.

‘Don’t panic if these noises are happening, it’s often a loose bolt here and there that just needs a little tightening.’

If you’re clueless with where to start with bolt tightening, James Trigg, an assistant buyer for cycling at Halfords, delves into this in a little more detail.

He also stresses that while this is vital, it’s important not to have them too tight – as this can lead to parts failing.

He says: ‘Fortunately, in a lot of instances these bolts have their torque ratings (how much they need tightening) printed next on them.

‘With a bike specific torque wrench you can set your desired torque so the tool clicks when you reach it, leaving the bolt perfectly tightened.

‘If you’re building a collection of bike tools this should certainly be on your shopping list.’

Give your bike a visual check

Then it’s a good idea to give your bike a visual once over. 

Chris says: ‘Have a look for anything that just doesn’t look right – things like bars being wonky or a chain being too loose. 

‘Pay attention to parts of the bike that unchecked could cause injury, the obvious one being making sure your bars have plugs or full grips (no end of handlebars on show) as a coring injury can be nasty.’

The brake test

Probably the most important part of a bike to test is the brakes – and it couldn’t be simpler to check them.

James says: ‘While standing off the bike, roll the bike forward while gradually applying one of the brakes.

‘Ensure that the wheel comes to a full stop well before the lever reaches the handlebar. Repeat on the other brake.’

Don’t forget the saddle

‘Slipping off a loose saddle while riding isn’t a pleasant experience, so check yours is nice and tight,’ says James. 

Cyclists can do this by pushing a saddle side to side and up and down – if it moves at all, tighten with a hex key from the underside.

Check your wheels are ‘true’ 

James adds: ‘Checking your wheels are true – or in other words, straight – on a rim brake bike is easy, you just spin the wheel and keep an eye on the gap between the rim and brake pad.

‘On a disc brake bike this is not as simple but you can rest your finger on the chainstay or fork, in line with the rim, as a point of reference.’

If your wheels are ‘out of true’, you can attempt to straighten them with a spoke key. 

But James adds that this is a bit of an art and can sometimes make wheels worse. So if in doubt, take it to your local bike shop.

Trust an expert 

If you know very little about bikes, there’s nothing wrong with asking a professional.

James adds: ‘If something sounds wrong or looks wrong or feels wrong on your bike there’s no harm in getting a pair of trained eyes on it, you know your bike better than anyone else, try not to ignore it.’

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

Source: Read Full Article