Conducting vehicle checks to ensure your vehicle is safe for the road is vital for yours, and others, safety on the road.
Below is a guide on how to conduct a bicycle check:
Physically inspect the bike
Check the wheels. Ensure they are not buckled, that they run freely, make little to no noise and there is no visible damage to the rims, spokes or tyres. Also ensure that the bolts or quick release mechanisms are tightened accordingly.
Ensure the seat post is set to the correct height and sufficiently tightened.
The pedals should spin freely and there should be no movement in the crank when you turn the pedals. If there is movement then there is likely damage to the bottom bracket.
Check for bent or worn teeth on the chain rings, which may cause problems during gear changes. Also check the chain links are not damaged or bent.
Physically inspect the brake levers, gear cables and brake cables. Check they are not frayed or broken.
Check the tyres
Riding on under-inflated tyres can cause flats and damage the wheels.
Check the optimum tyre pressure, which will be stated on the side of the tyre wall (e.g. “38 PSI”) and notify the rider to inflate their tyres to match the optimum pressure.
Make sure there are no foreign objects lodged in the tyre wall that could puncture the inner tube.
Inspect for cracks, bubbles or any damage to the tyres.
Check the tyre tread and see if they are worn.
Check the chain lubes
Riding with a dry chain wears the chain’s moving parts out faster. This in turn, wears out everything else on the drive train faster: cassette, chain rings, even the pulleys on the derailleur.
Check that the chain is not rusty, well lubricated and in good working order – this is mostly done by look and feel.
Check the brakes
Worn brake pads
Worn brake pads or blocks causes accidents and brakes will wear more quickly during the winter months.
New brake pads
New brake pads or blocks generally have teeth, grooves or a pattern, that will clearly show when they are worn out and require replacing.
Check all lights and reflectors
Cyclists must have a white front light and red rear lights lit at night and have their cycle fitted with a red light reflector on the rear.
It is recommended that both static and flashing lights front (white) and rear (red) are fitted onto the bicycle as per the photo below. It is a legal requirement to have lights on the bicycle when riding at night.
For optimum visibility to other road users, lights can also be attached to a riders’ helmet or backpack. Each pedal needs two amber light reflectors, one on the leading edge and the other on the trailing edge.
Note: It is also now also legal to have a flashing light on a pedal bike as long as it flashes between 60 and 240 times per minute.
Feel for loose parts and listen for unusual noises
Feel for anything unusual as you mount and push off for a test ride.
First pedal strokes
The force of your weight on the bike and the first couple of pedal strokes will usually highlight any serious problems.
The ride should be smooth
The ride should be smooth. Stop immediately and check the bike if there is any vibrating, rattling or unusual movement in the handlebars, seat, crank or pedals.
Sounds, rattling and more
As you start out on the test ride, listen for unusual sounds of scraping, rattling, rubbing, or creaking. If there is, stop the bike and conduct a thorough check of the problem area before moving off.