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The ABCs of your bike

Before you leave the house you check to see if the iron is off and you lock the door.

Before you go to work you check to see if you have your wallet and you’re wearing pants.

But before you go ride your bike do you check to see if your tires are inflated properly and that your brakes are in working order?

A pre-ride check only takes a quick 5 minutes but can save you even more time in the event of an emergency such as a flat tire or a broken shifter cable but it’s something a lot of us don’t normally do. So here is my quick tutorial, known as the ABCs, on how to do a quick pre-ride check on your bike (did I mention this is quick?).

A is for Air and tires:

The sidewall of your tires indicate the recommended air pressure (in PSI or Pounds per Square Inch) to ride your tires with. If they are too low you run the risk of getting a pinch flat, if they are too high the inner tube may not be able to hold the pressure before popping. Routinely check that your pressure is adequate and to the recommended PSI (A cheap tire pressure gauge from Canadian Tire or a bike pump with a pressure gauge is a must for this). Do a quick check on your tires to see if there are any bulges, wear or embedded objects in your tires as any of these can result in a flat. If you see any of these things try to re-inflate the tire, boot your tire or replace it, you may need to take your bike in to a shop if you do not know how.

Inner tube bulging out of the tire bead; deflate your tire and fix this ASAP!

B is for Brakes and cables:

Having functioning brakes is very important for safety so make sure your brakes engage properly. Squeeze your levers and feel the brakes stopping your wheels, if they don’t you should check why (it may be a case of a loose/broken cable, worn out pads or improperly set up brake pads). Ensure your pads are lined up with your rims and that they have not passed the wear indicator line. If they have you should replace them immediately. If you have some extra time to spare, routinely clear any gunk build up on your brake pads by sanding it down a bit with sandpaper.

Wear indicator line; if the line is gone replace the pads to increase stopping power

C is for Chain and drive train:

A gunky, kinked or rusty chain can slow down your pedalling efficiency and cause excess wear on your drive train. Lubricating your bike frequently can help keep your chain happy (avoid using WD40 since it leaves your chain dry). For best results, clean your chain, gears, chain rings and derailleurs with degreaser then lubricate.

A rusty bike is an unhappy bike

Check your derailleurs (if you have any) to see that they shift properly and that the cables are not frayed or rusting. Sluggish shifting or damaged cables are a sign that you may need to take it into a shop for repairs.

So for a quick recap:
-Check tires for damage and adequate tire pressure
-Make sure your brakes work and your pads aren’t worn or misaligned
-Check for good shifting and keep your chain oiled up

For easy tips on how to check/fix a lot of these issues visit

Posted: March 28th, 2010
Filed under: How to
Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments »

8 Comments on “The ABCs of your bike”

  1. 1 Joe T. said at 10:21 pm on March 28th, 2010:

    Fantastic post Bikeroo! Good idea to lay out the basics … especially for those new to biking. :)

  2. 2 cFletch said at 7:17 am on March 29th, 2010:

    What if you have trouble remembering your pants? Do I still have to go through the rest of the checklist? :)

    Thanks for the link. Looks very helpful!

  3. 3 Joe T. said at 8:22 am on March 29th, 2010:

    Haha. That pants thing cracked me up. I don’t have any trouble remembering mine yet… but I’m sure that will change as I get (even) older. :)

  4. 4 Bikeroo said at 8:26 am on March 29th, 2010:

    Funny story, almost left the apartment one day without pants.

  5. 5 From The Blogs: The ABCs of your Bike | Biking Toronto said at 1:57 pm on March 30th, 2010:

    [...] on Bikeroo in TO, BikingToronto member Bikeroo has written a good how-to post on doing frequent quick checks on key parts of your bike to make sure you keep [...]

  6. 6 Bike to Work » Blog Archive » The ABCs of your Bike said at 1:59 pm on March 30th, 2010:

    [...] on Bikeroo in TO, BikingToronto member Bikeroo has written a good how-to post on doing frequent quick checks on key parts of your bike to make sure you keep [...]

  7. 7 Weekly Wrap-Up: A Better Commute is by Bike! | Biking Toronto said at 10:24 am on April 2nd, 2010:

    [...] The ABCs of your bike (Bikeroo in TO) [...]

  8. 8 Bikeroo in TO » Blog Archive » New or Old? said at 11:59 am on April 18th, 2010:

    [...] they used to. Ask the seller to test ride the bike and take the time to fully inspect what you can. Perform the ABCs on the bike to make sure you can pedal, shift gears and brake safely. Check to see if the seat post [...]

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