Bicycle Ambassador Program
Do you want to save time, money and have your bike perform better and last longer? Here are a few simple safety and maintenance tips that will keep your two-wheeled machine happy and will make your ride safer and smoother.
Before each ride, conduct a pre-ride safety check and do a little maintenance that will help prevent many issues that could arise on the road or trail. I like to use the League of American Bicyclists’ (bikeleague.org) “ABC Quick Check” to make sure my bike is ready to ride. The ABC Quick Check also is taught as part of cycling-related courses offered by the FC Bikes Bicycle Ambassador Program (bicycleambassadorprogram.org).
A = Air
Inflate tires to the recommended pressure listed on the sidewall of the tire. Using a floor pump with a gauge is an easy way to determine how much air is in your tire. You should also inspect your tires for damage and replace them if necessary.
B = Brakes
Before each ride, give your wheels a spin and check to make sure your brake pads are not rubbing on the rim of your wheel (or on the rotor if you have disc brakes). If you have caliper-style brakes, inspect your brake pads to make sure that there is at least a quarter-inch of pad remaining. If there is less than a quarter-inch, it is time to replace your pads. Checking pads on disc brakes is a little more involved. You can view a number of online videos for how to check disc pads, or take them to your local bike shop. Give your brake levers a squeeze and make sure there is at least a thumb’s width between the lever and the handlebar when brakes are squeezed all the way.
C = Crankset and Chain
Make sure your crank set is tight by pulling the crank arms away from the bike. If they are loose, tighten the bolt, or take it to a shop for tightening.
Inspect your chain for rust and gunk. Cleaning and lubricating your chain is one of the best ways to keep your bike running smoothly. Clean your chain by applying lubricant, letting it set for a few minutes and then wiping it off with a lint-free rag. After you clean your chain, reapply lubricant and wipe off any excess. Make sure you are using a bicycle-specific lubricant that is the appropriate type for the conditions. If you are cycling in wet, muddy conditions, use a “wet,” or oil-based, lubricant. If you are cycling in dry, dusty conditions, use a “dry,” or wax-based, lubricant.
QUICK = Quick releases
If your bike has quick-release levers on the wheels and/or seat post, make sure they are tight and closed. The levers should point to the back of the bike so they don’t get caught on anything.
CHECK = Check everything over
Take the bike for a quick spin to make sure everything is working properly.
Now you are ready to enjoy your ride!
Jamie Gaskill-Fox is a program specialist for the City of Fort Collins FC Bikes program and coordinates the Bicycle Ambassador Program (bicycleambassadorprogram.org). She is also a League Cycling Instructor and a member of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Education Coalition.