Friday, November 9, 2012

Do the Pre-Ride "ABC Quick Check"

Before most rides, I inflate my tires, pick the bike up, and give each wheel a quick spin. Today I did not.

Hmmm, can you guess where this story is headed?

I left the house on "Ace" the road bike to do a short-ish ride with some quality tempo/recovery repeats. The bike was not shifting well and it would bounce up or down a cog. Sometimes that happens, I thought perhaps it just needed an adjustment.

Midway through a grinding section, the pedals stopped dead, crank arms horizontal. The chain jumped the smallest cog and was wedged next to the frame. I got off the bike safely, yanked the chain out, and put it back where it belonged. I figured I'd just avoid that gear.

I headed home and it got worse and worse. As luck would have it, one of our prominent bike advocates in the New River Valley Bicycle Association, Ed, was coming up an adjacent road. I hobbled alongside and he offered to take a look.

He immediately diagnosed that my rear skewer was very loose and the wheel was barely on the frame. A quick tightening and a run through the gears had it back to normal. I was pretty fortunate to avoid a wreck or other disastrous outcome. Had I taken a moment to check out the bike either before the ride or after the chain incident, I probably would have noticed.

I'm going to do a better job with the pre-ride "ABC Quick Check" now. Please do the same and ride safely!
  1. A is for air
    • Inflate tires to rated pressure as listed on the sidewall of the tire
    • Use a pressure gauge to insure proper pressure
    • Check for damage to tire tread and sidewall; replace if damaged
  2. B is for brakes
    • Inspect pads for wear; replace is there is less than ¼" of pad left
    • Check pad adjustment; make sure they do not rub tire or dive into spokes
    • Check brake level travel; at least 1" between bar and lever when applied
  3. C is for cranks, chain and cassette
    • Make sure that your crank bolts are tight; lube the threads only, nothing else
    • Check your chain for wear; 12 links should measure no more than 12 1/8 inches
    • If your chain skips on your cassette, you might need a new one or just an adjustment
  4. Quick is for quick releases
    • Hubs need to be tight in the frame; your quick release should engage at 90°
    • Your hub quick release should point back to insure that nothing catches on it
    • Inspect brake quick releases to insure that they have been re-engaged
  5. Check is for check it over
    • Take a quick ride to check if derailleurs and brakes are working properly
    • Inspect the bike for loose or broken parts; tighten, replace or fix them
    • Pay extra attention to your bike during the first few miles of the ride