Excuse: “I don’t know if my bike is safe to ride.”
Before jumping on a bike, whether you rode it 3 years ago or 3 days ago, you should perform an ABC Quick Check. It takes about 10 seconds and just might spare you from getting stranded miles from home. This is a check you should do every time you get on your bike.
A – Check your Air
Make sure that there is enough air in your tires by squeezing them. The tires should feel firm like a fully inflated basketball. If you have one, use apump with a gauge to make sure the bike is filled to the appropriate pressure. The tire pressure is indicated on the side of the tire – in the picture on the right you can see mine is 30-55psi.
B – Check your Brakes
For hand brakes, roll the bike forward and individually squeeze each brake. Make sure the bike responds to the brakes. You should also have an inch between the handlebar and the brake lever (if not you’ll need to get the brake cables tightened). For coaster brakes, jump on and make sure the brakes engage. For either type of brakes, glance at the break pads and make sure there’s at least 1/4″ left.
Start by taking a look at the your chain. As you could likely guess, if you see reddish brown, you’ve got a rusty chain that will need to be replaced so it doesn’t snap while you’re out and about. Run your thumb along the chain. You should be left with some (not too much) chain grease on your thumb. If not, lubricate your chain before hitting the road. Take a look at the crank and cassette (those are all the important looking pieces near your pedals), make sure nothing is loose or broken.
Quick – Quick Releases
Locate all of the quick releases on your bicycle and make sure each is firmly and securely engaged. Quick releases are typically found on your seat post (what is used to change the seat height) and sometimes on wheels. If they easily release, tighten the nut. When the quick releases are engaged, they should be pointing toward the back of the bike (so they are less likely to get caught on anything).
Check – Check It Over
Do a full visual check of your bicycle. Pick it up a few inches off the ground and drop it. If anything rattles or falls off, take a closer look.
An ABC Quick Check will become second nature the more you do it. I’ve found that I’ve been particularly thorough with the check with the Boda Boda given that the bike is new and I’m still getting used to it. As always, if you have any questions about your bike or the ABC Quick Check, stop by your local bike shop.
- ABC Quick Check, League of American Bicyclists
- How-To: Bicycle ABC Quick Check (makezine.com)
- Get to know your bike! (olebikesclub.wordpress.com)