How to Perform a Bike Safety Test

How to Perform a Bike Safety Test

Before you hit the road, be mindful of the cycling rules – one of them is the bike safety test.

Bicycles have the power to put anyone back on their feet and begin one’s journey. There is also a special kind of freedom and a sense of adventure in riding one. All it takes are two wheels, and you can see the world from another perspective.

But before you enjoy that bike ride experience, get into a habit of doing a quick safety check. This will ensure that your two-wheeler is in good condition, as well as your safety from a host of hazards.

Keep reading and learn how to do it like a pro!

Cycling Rules & Testing

Bicycle repair with screwdriver, close up

(Image Credit: Flickr)

Bike riding is fun, but accidents can happen, particularly on busy roads. Thus, bicycle riders, no matter their age, must follow the road rules. Wearing cycle helmets, for one, is part of the safety standards, but there’s more than to it.

This is where the ‘testing’ comes into play. It’s focused on the ability to maintain bike control by the rider. It applies to whatever type of bicycle you own, ideally prior to the ride or at least once a week.

The ABC Method

There are a few things you need to check before every ride, and experienced riders are no exception. To get you into this good practice, start with the ABC approach and further your way over time.

A for ‘air’

Increasing tyre pressure on bicycle

(Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

To begin your cycle training for safety, check your tire pressure. The last thing you want is to have a flat tire and not be able to fix it. The key here is to have well-maintained and properly inflated tires.

  • Squeeze each tire; they should feel hard - otherwise, they need some air.
  • Check the recommended pressure, which is usually printed on the side. It’ll be measured in psi (pounds per square inch) - 35 to 65 psi, for instance.
  • Take out your patch kit and get the gauge to check the pressure for each tire.
  • Inflate to the ideal pressure and not to the maximum amount. Start in the middle of the pressure range, and you may adjust for comfort. A higher psi is better for traction, while a lower pressure is for off-road riding.
  • Check your tires for wear and tear. If you have them, it’s time for a replacement.

Knowing how to change a bike wheel can also be a life skill for a cyclist.

B for ‘brakes’

Bike handlebar components up close

(Image Credit: Trusted Reviews)

Brakes, including brake levers, ensure ‘loss of control’ is less likely to happen. Simply put, good-working brakes allow you to stop when you need to. 

They similarly mount to your handlebars as mountain bikes. To test, they should hold firmly without squealing and make sure the pads aren’t rubbing the rim or rotor.

  • Inspect the brake pads. If there’s less than a quarter inch of pad left, replace them.
  • Turn the bike over off the ground and spin the wheel. Adjust the pads if they rub the rim.
  • Check the brake levers. There should be two inches of space between the lever and the handlebar before squeezing. If the brake isn’t engaging, bring your bike to a mechanic to have them take a look. For hydraulic disc brakes, you may need a brake bleed which is best performed by a professional.

Don’t ride the bike if your brake isn’t working to its full potential.

C for ‘components’

Mountain bike drivetrain

(Image Credit: Flickr)

The letter ‘C’ can work double-duty, paired with cleaning.  Any type of bicycle is a collection of moving parts. When these components get dirty, mainly the drivetrain, wear and deterioration will occur. 

Even if you ride on clean and quiet roads, you’ll need to degrease and re-grease every 100 miles. Then get to inspecting and then cleaning the other parts.

  • Start with the crankset, where the crank arms and chainrings are. Inspect them for cracks and dents, then grab one of the crank arms and gently shake it. There shouldn’t be any looseness; if there is, tighten the bolt.
  • Don’t forget to check the pedals as well. Ensure they spin freely and evenly and that you’re not feeling any rocking motion when doing so. Otherwise, the latter can mean you have a bent pedal or crank arm that needs to be replaced.
  • If everything in the crankset appears in order, finish up with cleaning. Lift the chain off and clean the chainring, ideally with a rag and brush. Repeat the cleaning process with the rear sprocket/cassette.
  • Next, inspect the bike chain for wear and damage. You don’t want to see these rollers hanging loose. If they're grimy, clean them with a solvent and give them a good brush. Once cleaned, lube the chain and turn the crank to get it moving.

This ‘How to Oil a Chain’ guide will walk you through the steps on how to do the job well.

Another pre-ride safety check:

  • Inspect the cables and housing and make sure there’s no frying or splitting.
  • Ensure the wheel quick-release levers are secure.
  • Check for any loose parts or other mechanical problems, and fix them right away if necessary.

Now that you know what to do during pre-ride testing, prioritising road safety is also important.

Bicycle Safety Tips: Equipment

A cyclist on the road

(Image Credit: Scott)

No safety test checklist is complete without a review of the equipment. This bicycle testing tip applies to both the vehicle and the bike riders.

With a wide range of safety products available, go with the simple ones with good protection in mind. On the bike, being safe means being seen. You should have reflectors and lights.

  • Reflectors must be positioned on both the front and back of the bike. Go for a red colour for your rear reflector or on the back of the saddle. Consider getting amber pedal reflectors, too.
  • For night bike riders, lights are crucial. Consider a white front light with a steady beam and a flashing red for the rear light.
  • If you’re riding in a flow of traffic, attach an orange flag that extends several feet above the bike. A horn or bell is a good idea, too.

Check if the ones on your bicycles are still working.

Bicycle safety tips on the rider, wear reflective clothing so you can be seen. Plus, wear equipment to protect yourself from injury.

  • The golden rule is never to ride without a bike helmet. The risk of head injuries is real and serious. Bicycle helmets must fit correctly and are Consumer Product Safety Commission-approved.
  • Other safety equipment includes elbow and knee protectors, mouth guards, and gloves.
  • Always wear bright clothes so others will see you better, particularly at night. Wear closed-toed shoes and never ride barefoot. As for pants, avoid loose ones that can get caught in the chain.
  • Bring your cell phone with you as much as possible for communication in case of emergency. Plus, a maintenance bag, such as a patch kit.

Round-up

Going over a detailed bike safety test every time you go out for a ride can be overkill. But once you’ve gotten into the habit, doing it will seem like second nature.

Following the ABC method will go a long way to enjoying your road adventures and help you prevent a long walk home. It may only take a few minutes but will help prevent avoidable accidents, as well.

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