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Bicycle Equipment & Maintenance Checks

6 Steps to Check Bike Equipment

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  • Make sure your bike is the proper size. A bike that is too big or too small will be difficult to control. When youíre standing on the ground, you should have a 1-3 inch gap between you and the top bar. Youíll need more room if youíre riding a mountain bike, due to more rugged riding surfaces.
  • Check to see if your bike seat is adjusted to the proper height. When youíre sitting on the seat with your foot on the down pedal, your leg should be slightly bent. This will help avoid knee strain, will allow the rider to be supported in an upright position with at least one foot on the ground, and will make restarting completed in a safe manner.
  • Make sure you have a red reflector on the rear of the bike and a white or yellow reflector on each pedal. Also, have a white or yellow reflector on each side of the bike forward of the bicycle centerline. In addition, a white or red reflector on each side to the rear of the bicycle centerline is necessary. Make sure the reflectors are pointed properly to reflect the headlights of cars, which are coming up behind you or approaching from the sides.
  • Check the bikeís chain to make sure itís clean and lubricated. If itís not, clean it according to common practices or take it to a local bike shop for a check up. /li>
  • Check your brakes for even pressure. Brakes should make your back wheels skid on dry pavement, but should also release properly.
  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated.



If the brake pads are worn, replace the pads. Be sure the brake cables are oiled ogreased so you can squeeze the brake levers easily. When depressed, brake pads should mate to the wheel rim evenly. Plus, while squeezing the brake there should be at least one inch (2.5 centimeters) of clearance between the lever and the handlebars. Hand brakes work best when the wheel rims are clean and rust-free. So keep them clean!


Keep the chain cleaned and oiled, especially after riding in wet weather. Pour chain cleaner into a container and use an old toothbrush to clean the chain. Wipe it dry with a cloth, apply oil, and wipe off the excess. Always wear safety equipment such as gloves and goggles, and recycle the remnants.


Be sure all gears work properly. You must be able to shift your gears easily while riding. If they stick or slip, or if the chain falls off while you shift, have a bicycle mechanic adjust them.


Handlebars should not be crooked or loose. You shouldnít be able to twist them back and forth when you hold the front wheel between your legs. At least two inches (5 centimeters) of handlebar stem should be inside the head tube. The handlebar maximum extension line should not be visible.


Check the front and rear lights to see if they work properly. If they donít work like they should, check the bulb, batteries, connections, or the generator.


Pedals should be in good condition and also should spin smoothly.


Keep all reflectors clean. Replace them if they break.


Be sure the seat is level, doesnít wobble, and is fastened tightly. Be sure that it is the right height for you too. At least two inches (5 centimeters) of the seat post should be inside the seat tube, and the seat stem maximum extension line should not be visible.


Check to see none of the spokes are loose, missing or broken. If spoke defects exist, have a bike mechanic adjust or repair them.


Check the tires often. Look for bulges, cuts, or cracks and worn spots. Check the tread. Tread depth should be evenly worn and still deep enough to channel water. Also, valve stems should be sticking straight through the wheel rim, indicating the tire tube is installed properly.

The right amount of air pressure for the tire is legible on the side of the tire. Pump this amount of air pressure in both tires by using a hand pump. A gas station air pump is too strong, and could burst the tires.

Finally, check your air pressure with an air pressure gauge. Too much air can cause a blowout, and too little air can weaken the sides of the tires, causing damage to the wheel rims when you hit a bump.


Spin the wheels. If the wheels are bent they will wobble back and forth. And if the wheels wobble, a rider wonít be able to ride in a straight line and the brakes wonít work well either. Additionally, be sure the attaching nuts or quick release levers are tight and secure.

AMC Media Corporation; From A to Z by Bike, 1995