I’m pretty sure that I didn’t come up with this check list, but I did use it when I taught Bicycle Touring at Aurora University years ago. We also used it on my cross country tour…. And after years of riding, I totally forgot to do it before a group ride a couple of weeks ago. Everyone on the ride was on their fancy new Treks. I ride an old Bridgestone RBT. It has taken good care of me over the years, getting me from Portland Maine to the coast of Oregon…. and almost 20 years later, it still is a great bike… Anyway, I digress early on.
My failure was that I didn’t check my bike at the ride start and it had some serious problems. I had been out for a ride earlier in the year and it had been fine. But I don’t know if it is mice or squirrels that make adjustments between rides but your bike can definitely be different ride to ride.
That is why it makes sense to do a pre-ride bike check.
So, here it is — from Front to Back:
1. Front tire pressure
2. Check your tire spin
3. Side to side play of tire
4. Squeeze brakes to be sure they are attached and working well. Check front and back separately as well.
5. Check headset by squeezing brakes and pushing bike forward. Bike should not move.
6. Crank arms — is there wiggle or play in them?
7. Back tire pressure
8. Back tire play
9. Back tire spin
10. Tornado shake! Pick up the bike and shake it. Is anything loose or rattling?
Okay so part of the ten point check does not address gears but my derailleurs were not working, particularly the front. Back was fine but front would not move between my three rings, so I would stop at the bottom of the hill and move it manually to the granny gear and then at top of the hill move it back up to the big gear — we call it Grand Pa Pa.
The 10 point bike check would have helped on brakes though. We climbed a huge hill. Perhaps a 2 mile climb. Screaming down the other side on curvy backroads I found that my front brakes were not functioning. Yikes! Obviously I made it down the hill but it was a bit unnerving.
Today, I did a quick check and all was fine! My message — don’t count on everything being fine each time you get on your bike. Check it first and make sure that is in good working order. It will keep you safer!
What do you check on your bike before riding? Are there more important components to check? Did I miss critical things? Thanks for your input!