7 Things To Check Before Your Next Ride

1. Quick Release Skewers

Loose quick release skewers can cause problems ranging from an annoying squeak to the wheel catastrophically coming out of the dropouts. Before you ride, check to make sure yours are tight.

Quick release skewers can work loose over time. Make sure yours are tight before your next ride.

Quick release skewers can work loose over time. Make sure yours are tight before your next ride.

2. Tire Pressure

Under-inflated tires can cause the tire to wear faster and increase your risk of getting a flat. Check on the side of the tire for the recommended PSI. For road riding, you should inflate it to within 30 PSI of the maximum recommend, depending on body weight (lighter riders should use lower pressures). For MTB 30-45 PSI is usually ideal, depending on trail conditions and body weight.

Most tires have the recommended tire pressure on the sidewall

Most tires have the recommended tire pressure on the sidewall

3. Stem Bolts

If your stem bolts aren’t tight, the next pot hole, tree root, or set of rail road tracks you hit could make your handlebars move out of position. To check, grab the brake hoods and try to push them downward. If they move, then reposition the bars and check that the 4 facebolt bolts are evenly tightened to spec.

To keep your handlebars secure, make sure the stem bolts are tight

To keep your handlebars secure, make sure the stem bolts are tight

4. Headset

Grab the front brake lever and try to rock your bike back and forth. If you can feel the fork steer (the part of the fork that extends up through the frame) moving or can hear a rattle, your headset is loose. To fix, loosen the two stem pinch bolts, tighten the top cap bolt (on the top of the steerer tube), and retighten the stem bolts. If the top cap is fully tightened but you still feel some play, you may need an additional spacer underneath the top cap.

A loose headset can be both irritating and dangerous. Fortunately, fixing it is pretty easy.

A loose headset can be both irritating and dangerous. Fortunately, fixing it is pretty easy.

5. Brakes

Lift each wheel off the ground and spin it. If you hear the brakes rubbing at any point, move the caliper or open the brake arms using the adjustment lever until you don’t hear rubbing any more. With both wheels on the ground, grab the brake levers and try to roll the bike forward. If the wheels move, or the levers bottom out before the brakes are fully engaged, tighten the calipers using the barrel adjuster on each brake caliper.

Always make sure your brakes function correctly, and aren't rubbing the rims before a ride.

Always make sure your brakes function correctly, and aren’t rubbing the rims before a ride.

6. Seatpost

If your seatpost isn’t fully tightened, you could find your saddle sliding down on you as you ride. Firmly grab the saddle, and try to push it down while twisting from side to side. If the saddle moves, reposition it and tighten the seatpost clamp to spec (be careful not to overtighten—especially with carbon frames and seatposts).

Test your seatpost before a ride to make sure your bike doesn't turn into a low rider

Test your seatpost before a ride to make sure your bike doesn’t turn into a low rider

7. Crank Arms

Sometimes these can work themselves loose on newer bikes, and bikes with a lot of miles on them. Sometimes it can just cause some nagging knee pain, or the entire crankarm can fall off mid ride. To check, rotate the non-drive side crank arm so it’s inline with the downtube. Grab the crankarm and downtube and try to firmly squeeze them together. Look for movement near the BB cups. If you can see the crankarm moving or wiggling, you need to tighten your cranks.

The owner of this bike once found himself with this crank arm hanging from his shoe. Don't be like him.

The owner of this bike once found himself with this crank arm hanging from his shoe. Don’t be like him, and make sure your cranks are adequately tightened

Posted in Learn About Gear Tagged with: , ,
6 comments on “7 Things To Check Before Your Next Ride
  1. Jeff Kalishman says:

    Check the rim for cracks particularly on the drive side of your rear wheel. This has been showing up a lot on 28 spoke wheels, both Generic and name brand.

  2. erma says:

    thanks for this helpful information

  3. Brad says:

    Good tips

  4. Jeff Kalishman says:

    While checking the tire pressure, you should also check for foreign object in the tires.(Glass,thorns and nails.

  5. Jimmy says:

    Don’t ignore your pedals while you’re down there looking at the crankset.

  6. ErnieO says:

    While ur checking for loose screws, don’t forget the water bottle cage. Nothing like having the top screw fall out & the water bottle tilt over & block ur crank while humping uphill! Whisky Tango Fxtrot!

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