How to keep your bike roadworthy (and safe!)

24th July 2018
Bikes Bikes

A well cared for bike is easier to ride, more reliable, more fun and — crucially — safer, too. General routine maintenance also something that even the least technically minded rider can keep an eye on. Of course, if your bike has been hidden away in the shed for a year or longer, it’s worth taking it for a more extensive service at your local Gazelle dealer before using it in earnest again. However, if it’s only been a matter of weeks or months since you last had a spin, here’s a simple pre-ride checklist, which also acts as a perfect weekly check-up regime.

Tyres

Tyre pressure is generally the first and most regular aspect of bike maintenance that you will have to attend to because air gradually escapes from tyres and they go flat, even if left unridden. You could give the tyres an old-fashioned squeeze to see if they feel firm enough to ride on. But to be more accurate — and to make inflating them far easier — buy a track pump with a pressure gauge. Then inflate your tyres to the recommended pressures written on their sidewalls. With enough air in the tyres, it’s time to inspect both the tread and the sidewalls of the tyres. Spin each wheel very slowly and look at the surface for cuts, flints, screws or nails; remove anything that might have become embedded in the tread. Also check the tread is deep enough to give you decent grip. Now slowly examine the tyre sidewall on both sides and check that it looks in good condition with no cracks or cuts. While we’re near the wheels, also make sure the wheel hubs are sitting in the frame and fork dropouts correctly, with their bolts or quick releases securely
done up.

Brakes

Many Gazelle bikes are fitted with roller or drum brakes, which offer super smooth operation and are essentially maintenance free. However, as a quick general test, push your bike forward and squeeze your brakes to check they are working and have the power to stop you. If you find the performance of your roller brakes is not up to expected standards, take your bike to a qualified cycle mechanic. If your bike is fitted with caliper rim brakes, such as V-brakes, there are a few more checks you can do. The first is to make sure the wheel is running straight between the brake blocks and doesn’t rub at any point. If it rubs, you may need to realign your brake caliper slightly or your wheel may be out of tru. The second check is to look at the brake blocks and make sure they haven’t worn down beyond the wear lines marked on them — if they have, it’s time to replace with new blocks. Finally, assuming that’s all good, have a quick look a the surface of the brake blocks and make sure there is no grit or metal splinters embedded in them that might impede effective braking. If you see any foreign matter, flick it out.

Gears

Because Gazelle’s bikes are designed to be easy to live with, we fit many of our models with enclosed drivetrains featuring hub gears, which — like roller brakes — are effectively maintenance free and require little-to-no attention. However, it’s still worth going for a quick ride somewhere safely away from traffic to flick between the gears and check they are working as expected. If there is a problem, take your bike to your nearest Gazelle dealer . If you ride a bike with derailleur gears, it is certain they will need adjusting at some point because gear cables stretch and chains wear. Again, ride your bike somewhere safe — or lift the back wheel off the ground — and flick between the gears as you turn the pedals. Make sure the derailleurs are operating correctly and your chain isn’t slipping. If there is a problem, derailleur gears are relatively simple to adjust if you approach them methodically. Otherwise, take your bike to a trained mechanic.

Nuts and bolts

Even the most stable cyclist can be put in danger if something even as innocuous as the seatpost moves unexpectedly. That means it’s important to check all nuts and bolts are done up securely, especially those involved with contact points such as the seatpost, the saddle, the stem and handlebar, and even make sure pedals are secure.
To check the bike’s steering is unimpeded and the headset is working as expected, pick the front of the bike off the floor and let the handlebar, fork and front wheel flop from side to side. It should do this smoothly and easily. Also check your lights are working and any accessories, such as rear racks, are securely attached.

Finally… keep yourself roadworthy

Wearing the right kit also helps with your cycling, although ‘the right kit’ rather depends on what type of cycling you do, how far your ride, and how fit you are. One thing cyclists of all types wear, though, is a helmet. So, as a final check before hopping aboard your bike, make sure you are wearing your helmet correctly. We’ve seen many cyclists with helmets tilted way too far back on their heads — we’ve even seen some cyclists wearing helmets back to front! What you need to do: is a) make sure your helmets fits; b) wear it level on your head (the right way round!) so it protects from your forehead all the way to the back of your head and; c) have the straps tightened so they do up under your chin without pinching or squeezing.

Now you’re all set fair to ride!

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