Get Rolling! How to Get Your Bike Road-Ready
Ready to ride? Before heading out make sure your bike is ready to roll. By taking a few extra minutes to check, you can save yourself a lot of flat tires and mishaps later.
Tips on making sure your bike is road-ready:
- Check the tire pressure: First, squeeze the tire’s sidewalls (side edges) toward each other as hard as you can. If the sidewalls squeeze together easily, you know the air pressure is low and the tires need to be inflated.
- You may need to replace the tire if you notice cracks in the sides or worn spots.
- A floor pump is the easiest way to pump up your tires. If you don’t have one at home, neighborhood bike shops are generally happy to let you use theirs. Prop your bike against a sturdy wall. Place the socket on the end of the pump directly over the valve. Check the tire’s sidewalls where the tire’s maximum PSI number is written. Most floor pumps have a built in pressure-gauge that makes it easy to know when you’ve reached the maximum tire pressure. Keeping your tires close to their maximum PSI will make riding easier and help you avoid flats.
- Brakes - Squeeze the brakes and rock your bike forward. Both brakes should grip the rims smoothly and evenly. When braking, the levers should be at least one fingers width from the handlebars. Tightening brakes is fairly straight forward. If you haven’t done it before, ask a bike expert or bike shop to show you how.
- The chain - Check that the chain is running smoothly by running the pedal backwards. Add bike-specific lubricant to the chain if it looks dry or squeaks. Clean your chain with an old rag to remove excess grease or other build-up.
- Seat - Make sure your seat is at the right height; when you can reach the ground with the tips of your toes while still seated.
More On Bike Commuting: