Cycling is a great way to get out and about and enjoy the place where you live. It’s great for all the family, too, so you can spend some quality time with the kids out on your bikes.
With many thousands of miles of dedicated cycle routes throughout the UK you are never short of somewhere to ride, whether you are looking for off-road fun or simply taking a ride on the roads.
As an eco-friendly and cheap form of transport, cycling is also becoming ever-more popular as a way of commuting.
Many who work in towns and cities beat the morning and evening rush by taking the bike, and as a result can bypass the slow traffic.
Of course, care and attention are needed, as a cyclist is a road user like everyone else. One factor that is sometimes overlooked is that of basic maintenance.
As we have said, a bike is a vehicle for road transport and as such – like all other vehicles on the road – you should be certain that yours is safe and roadworthy at all times.
How should you do this? Let’s have a look at some of the basic safety checks that you should carry out before every ride.
Check Before You Ride
When we say that you should follow this checklist before you ride, don’t be mistaken that it’s going to take you forever; it will add a few minutes to your journey, but it could save you a nasty accident.
Here are the essentials you should check before you get on and ride:
- Brakes – this is your key to safe riding. Check that your brake levers are working, that they are acting correctly on the mechanism, and that the pads stop the wheel correctly when you apply them. It’s all too easy to set off and suddenly find that you have defective brakes.
- Quick release – many bikes have quick release wheels these days. This is great for when you need to change a tyre or fix a puncture. However, even the most experienced of riders have ridden off with a loose wheel – to potentially disastrous consequences. A quick check that they are all tight is enough and you’re ready to go.
- Tyre pressures and condition – you should regularly check your tyre pressures. You might not notice that you have a puncture, for example, and if you ride away can very quickly damage the rim. Also, tyres do wear and spilt, so a quick check every now and then is a sensible precaution against any problems that may arise.
- Chain condition – how often do you check and degrease your chain? If you regularly ride in wet weather the chain – and the gear set – can become clogged with dirt and will need oiling, so make sure you keep an eye on these parts of the bike, too.
- Lights – if you ride in failing light or in the dark, you need to carry bike lights. In fact, many cyclists use a bright strobe-type light even in daylight, as out on the roads among other traffic the bicycle is not the easiest vehicle to see. Check that your lights are fully operational before you head out onto the road.
That’s a quick run-down of some of the most important safety checks you can make before you go riding.
It’s also recommended that, every couple of weeks, you give your bike a more thorough going-over to look for any damage to brakes, tyres and other parts of the bike – even the frame can be damaged in some circumstances – so that you are sure you have a bike that is safe to ride.
Before we go, a couple of non-bike safety points; always wear a helmet, as the majority of serious injuries from cycling accidents are head injuries.
Always make sure you are dressed for the occasion with the correct comfortable clothing and weather protection, and always act courteously and with consideration for other road users.
With all that in mind, you can enjoy safe and happy cycling every time!
Read more about cycling safety – https://www.sustrans.org.uk/what-you-can-do/cycling/cycling-safety-and-rules/road-safety-cyclists