Performing regular maintenance, during the winter months in particular, on a bicycle will improve its performance and longevity, and reduce the risk of breakdowns. The exact schedule for a particular bicycle will depend on how it is used: its weekly mileage, the weather conditions, road surface conditions and so on. Most parts will need attention and possible replacement every year or two; if this is done, however, a bicycle can be maintained in good working order for decades.
Safety and Emergency Checklist
- Mudguards on both front and rear wheels are a necessity
- Properly fitting helmet (can only get 2 fingers under straps)
- Sunglasses or other eye protection
- Pump (consider a pump frame that attaches to bike)
- Two spare tubes.
- Toolkit for basic repairs, including multi-tool that fit your bicycle
- Rain gear
- Your driver’s license or other ID, plus an emergency contact person and medical information
- Flashing rear & front safety lights
- Brightly-colored clothing to improve visibility
- A few Euros for emergencies
- Mobile phone
Comfort and Clothing Checklist
- Padded gloves to reduce pressure and “road shock,” which can cause numb or tingling fingers
- Bike shoes with firm soles make pedalling more efficient
- Bike shorts with a padded lining eliminate seams and make cycling more comfortable.
- Cyclists typically wear shorts made without seams — and no underwear — to eliminate sources of chafing and pressure points
- Anatomic bike seat. Bicycle seats (saddles) come in a variety of shapes and sizes. To find the best one for you, try several types.
- Jacket to block wind and rain.
- Arm warmers, leg warmers, extra clothing – better to have too much than not enough. You can also remove and carry in back pocket.
- Clothing that wicks moisture will keep you dry and comfortable
Other Essentials Checklist
- Energy foods, snacks or extra cash – better to be looking at it than for it!
- Adequate water and/or carb drink or orange quash etc.
Pre-Ride Safety Inspection
Before each cycle perform a safety check of your bicycle. This only needs to take a minute or two, but will help prevent avoidable accidents.
Check the tyres for proper inflation (marked on the side of the tyre). One of the simplest things you can do is the one that can have the greatest effect, and that surprisingly, people most often overlook. Paying attention to keeping the proper level of air pressure in your tires accomplishes many things:
- Makes pedaling easier
- Protects your rims from damage
- Prolongs the life of your tires
- Makes it much less likely that you’ll get flats.
- Checking for proper air pressure in your tires before every ride is quick and easy to do.
- Check the tire treads for excessive wear or other damage, such as embedded glass or other objects.
Check the brakes.
Spin the wheels to check for rubbing and then apply the brakes to ensure they stop the bike smoothly and evenly. Check the brake pads for excessive wear.
- Check the cables and housing to make sure there is no fraying or splitting.
- Check the wheel quick release levers to ensure they are secure.
- Check for any loose parts or other mechanical problems.
- Do a slow-speed ride and inspect bicycle, brakes, and shifting before you leave your driveway.
Following these guidelines will go a long way to enjoying your bike rides and will often help you prevent unexpected incidents or a long walk home.
Clean Your Bike
Cyclists should clean their bike after the ride, if the moving parts have got muddy or picked up road salt, give the bike a quick hose down. It’s much easier doing it now than after it has dried!
(washing with a bike cleaner helps get rid of dried on and hard to get off grime.)
- Keep wheel rims free of oil
- Keep drive train, derailleur, jockey wheels and other moving parts moving freely
- Good time to check for loose parts, rough or loose bearing, tyres condition etc
Finally following a recent accident it was agreed that one of the biggest safety tips is not too pull in too far on the left to let traffic past. Always leave room for maneuvering!!
By Michael Brady