While riding a bike is a skill you never really forget, it is easy to forget that your bike is a machine. Like all machines, your bike can fail in both surprising and predictable ways. That is why before your hop on it, you should do a brief mechanical check. Here are the items on my checklist:
- Tires: Check your tires and inflate as needed — be sure to not exceed the PSI (pounds per square inch) listed on the side of the tire. If you have quick-release tires, make sure the levers are secure.
- Brakes: Test your brakes by lifting your bike, spinning your wheels, then squeezing your brakes. Looks at the pads to see how worn they are.
- Cables: Look over your brake and gearing cables to ensure they are all intact with no fraying or splits.
There are a few more gear-related items to check, to learn them
- Spare tube: Make sure you have a spare tube or patch kit, in case you get a flat on your ride. A small pump that attaches to your bike is a great tool to ride with.
- Water: Don't forget to fill your water bottle before heading out.
- Money: I always carry at least a couple buck in case of emergency. Take your cell phone, too, and your ID.
- Cleats: If you ride with clipless pedals, check your cleats to make sure no screws are loose.
- Gears: Start your ride by going slowly through all your gears to ensure your derailleur is working fine.
Don't forget your helmet!