ABC Quick Check

Before you set out for a ride, make sure your bike is ready to go. Bike New York staff like the easy-to-remember “ABC Quick Check” developed by the League of American Bicyclists.

A = Air

  • Squeeze the tires. They should feel rock hard.
  • Use a pump with a gauge to inflate the tires to their recommended pressure, which is written on the side of the tire. (Look for “Inflate to 35-60 psi” or “maximum inflation 120 psi.”)
  • Inspect tires for large cuts, bald spots, or dry, cracked sidewalls. Replace your tires if these problems appear.

B = Brakes

  • Spin both wheels forward. Check that the rims do not rub on the brake pads.
  • Squeeze each brake lever. There should be more than an inch of space between the brake lever and the handlebar when you squeeze the brake levers.
  • Check that the brake pads make full contact with the rim. They should not touch the tire or dive into the spokes.
  • Both sides of the brake should return equally when you release the levers. Get the brakes adjusted if one side of the brake rubs on the rim.
  • When brake pads have less than 1/4 inch of rubber left, replace them.

C = Chain, Cassette, and Cranks

  • On single-speed bikes, the chain should be tight, not sagging.
  • Lubricate your chain once every 100 miles or once every 5-10 bike rides.
  • Make sure your crank and chainring bolts are tight.
  • Rotate the crank to make sure the chainrings are straight, not warped.
  • Once a year, measure the chain. Twelve links should measure no more than 12 1/8 inches pin-to-pin. If replacement is in order, replace the worn chain and cassette at the same time; new chains will not work with old cassettes.

Quick = Quick Release

  • The quick release does not tighten like a nut and bolt. Do not tighten it by tightening the nut on the right side all the way.
  • The quick-release lever should be in the “closed” position, pointing up or backward. It is tight enough if you cannot rotate it while it is closed.
  • To adjust the quick release, open it, and tighten or loosen the nut on the right side until the lever starts to give resistance when it is halfway closed.

Check = Check It Over (or twist, shake, rattle, and roll)

  • Twist stem, handlebar, brake and shift levers, and seat to make sure they are tightly secured.
  • Shake wheels and cranks sideways to check for loose hubs and bottom bracket bearings.
  • Lift the bike one inch and drop it; locate any rattling parts and tighten them.
  • Take a short “roll” on the bike to make sure the brakes and gears are working properly.
a