Studies have demonstrated that getting out on your bicycle can be great for both your physical and mental health. However, before heading out on your latest journey, it is important to perform some pre-ride checks as part of your routine.
This will ensure that your bike is in good working order, and that you’ll be safe on the roads or in the wild of the mountains (if you’re more into the off-piste lifestyle). Remember to utilise this checklist before each ride to improve your safety measures.
1) Tire pressure and wheel condition
First and foremost, you should be checking tire pressure prior to any ride. If you’re a mountain biker, you’ll want to ensure that your tires have enough air pressure to cope with the types of terrain you’ll be riding on. While road bikes tend to be more formulaic in terms of PSI, you’ll nevertheless want to ensure your tires are at a comfortable level - even if you’re simply nipping down to the shops.
In addition to pressure, you’ll also want to pay attention to the condition of your tires and wheels. Major tire failure could risk destabilising you as you ride - at worst this could mean a serious injury, and at best it could mean you’ll be calling for a lift or even waving to passing cars for a lift home. If you’re unsure about the condition of a wheel or tire, it's best to have it repaired or replaced beforehand.
2) Road conditions
If it's foggy or dark out, you might want to consider alternative transport. If that’s not an option, always be certain to wear high-visibility clothing at all times and install suitable high-visibility lighting on your bicycle.
Where possible, you may wish to encourage fellow road users to brush up on their cyclist and pedestrian safety awareness - particularly as the winter months and dark nights roll in. Failing that, understanding all the rules yourself will stand you in good stead for knowing what kind of erratic driving behaviours to watch out for.
If you’ve attached lights or other equipment to improve the visibility of your bicycle in dark or inclement weather, be certain to check that it works prior to setting off. It can sometimes be difficult to tell how effective your lighting is, particularly if you are starting in daylight - so perform those checks in the conditions you’d expect them to work in.
3) Chain and lubrication
It’s not necessary to lubricate bike chains on every journey - in fact, this can have a negative long-term effect on the drivetrain - but it’s definitely worth checking that your chain is in good condition before every journey. In many instances, a simple once-over with a cloth will help to remove any grime picked up on the road. If you pedal the chain backwards, you’ll also be in a good position to spot any potentially-damaged, twisted or tight links.
Riding a bicycle should be a joy, but it should also be a task which is undertaken responsibly. According to the CDC, nearly 1,000 cyclists are killed on US roads each year. By performing some simple checks prior to embarking on journeys, cyclists can instead help themselves to be safer on the roads.