Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The ABC Quick Check is an Important Pre-Ride Safety Check

If you are in the habit of riding every day you do this check automatically as you ride.  But if you don't ride daily, run down the ABC checklist before you ride to be sure you have air, brakes and to see that your drive train (chain, crank and cassette) are all properly working. 

Before you start - do you know the parts of a racing bike?  Answers are at the bottom of this post.

Do you have a routine to check your bike for mechanical safety? The ABC Quick Check of your bike’s fitness should be followed before each ride. Timely bicycle maintenance can prevent a serious crash.

A is for Air, Check tire pressure
Tires should be inflated to the rated air pressure noted on the sidewall (pounds/ square inch). Check inflation with a tire pressure gauge. While checking the pressure take a moment to check for damage to the sidewalls and/or tread. Damage to the sidewall is common if the brakes are not adjusted properly. If the tire casing is showing through the tire tread, the tire should be replaced.

B is for Brakes, Check the brakes for:
Pad Wear and Adjustment by visually checking the brake pad. If there is less than 1/8” of rubber showing at any place, replace the brake pad. Make certain that the pads are parallel to and aligned with the side of the rim when applied. Cable and housing - Watch to make sure the cables travel smoothly and the cables are not frayed. Frayed cables should be replaced. If the cables stick, apply lubrication at the ends of the housing and work it in by applying the brakes until it feels smoother.

C is for Cranks, Check the Cranks
When you do this check, you are checking the bottom bracket, the crank arms and chainrings. To do this check, take the left and right crank arms in your hands and attempt to move them sideways. If both move, you have a loose or worn bottom bracket. If only one moves, the individual crank arm is loose and must be secured. Never ride with a loose crank arm.

Quick is for Quick Releases
Your bike may have quick release (QR) levers holding the wheels to the bicycle. QRs feature a lever on one side and a nut on the other. Check to ensure that the wheels are clamped securely in the drop-outs before each ride. To clamp the quick release, first pull the lever open. Make sure the wheel is firmly in the drop-out (the interior of the fork end in front or frame in the rear.) Open and close the QR lever with your left hand while gradually tightening the adjusting nut with your right hand in a clockwise direction. Tighten the nut until you feel resistance on the lever at the point when the lever is parallel to the hub. Grip the fork and use the palm of your hand to close the QR lever. Always lift the lever up first to close it, never just rotate or spin it closed.

Check is for a brief, slow ride to check that your shifting and everything else is working properly.

Many items of the ABC Quick Check can be accomplished visually; others require a brief minute to physically check. If you determine that adjustments are necessary and beyond your ability, enlist the help of a mechanic at your local bike shop. There are additional bicycle maintenance issues that must be addressed on a weekly, monthly or annual basis to keep your bike in top fitness. These include lubricating the chain and checking that the headset is properly adjusted. It is also a good idea to become attuned to mechanical abnormalities that may happen while riding, such as rattles, soft tires or looseness in your bike’s components, such as grips, pedals or bolts.

Parts of the Bike Identified

1.    Saddle
2.    Seat post
3.    Seat stay
4.    Brake
5.    Rear derailleur
6.    Chain stay
7.    Chain
8.    Cranks
9.    Pedal
10.    Front derailleur
11.    Seat tube
12.    Down tube
13.    Top tube
14.    Stem
15.    Headset
16.    STI dual function brake and shift lever
17.    Fork
18.    Wheel rim
19.    Tire
20.    Tire valve

The ABC checklist is modified from the League of American Bicyclists Traffic Skills 101 book.

Take the online Traffic Skills 101 course and test free here:

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