Bike riding can be an exhilarating experience, an excellent workout or another way to connect with the great outdoors. But as in any sport, you’ll want to make sure that your equipment is functioning properly. Running through some quick and simple pre-ride maintenance can help prevent potential mishaps on the trail, and also let you get a better understanding for your bike. Here are a few key areas to consider before beginning to pedal.
Your first step is to make sure that your gear is packed and ready to go. Aside from your helmet, water and first-aid kit, you may also want to carry some basic tools in case of a breakdown. A multi-tool, spare inner tube and pump are key to pack. Once you are properly equipped, make sure your bike is properly tuned.
The first thing to check is the tire pressure. Your tires should have the recommended PSI marked somewhere near the rim. Not having enough pressure can make it a little harder to pedal and having too much may cause a bumpy ride, or worse a flat tire. Make sure you are operating at the recommended tire pressure for the best possible ride.
To do so, rotate your wheel so that the nozzle is sticking straight up. Unscrew the cap and place the hose of the air pump on the nozzle and lock it. Every pump has a different locking mechanism, but make sure that it’s in place before pumping. Add air until the desired PSI is reached, then disconnect the hose and screw the cap back on the nozzle. You will hear some air leak out after you disconnect the hose, but this is normal.
Before your ride begins, your seat should be at a good, comfortable height. The ideal seat height is generally about where you can stand on your tip toes when you are positioned over the seat.
Most bikes will feature one of two seat adjustment mechanisms. One type has a clasp while the other features an Allen bolt.
If your seat has the clasp type, open the clasp, position the seat to the desired height and then close the clasp.
For the bolt type, first loosen it at the base of the seat post with an Allen key. Once the seat is loosened, you can adjust the height accordingly. Before you tighten the seat on either mechanism, however, make sure that the seat is aligned with the top tube.
The final item to check is the brakes. Give them a quick test by squeezing each one separately and making sure the wheel locks. If you are unsatisfied with their locking capability, take your bike to your local DICK’S Sporting Goods bike department to have one of our PROS look it over.
You should always remember to check your tire pressure, seat height and brakes as part of your pre-ride routine.