Road Safety

ABC Quick Check

Before you hit the road, use the following ABC Quick Check to ensure your bicycle is safe to ride.

Note: if you discover any problems during this check, take your bicycle to a bike mechanic or complete the repairs as soon as possible.

A – is for Air (tires, wheels, etc.)

  • Check your tires to ensure they are firmly inflated. Low pressure tires will require you to work much harder and increase your chance of a flat. The recommended tire pressure range is generally found on the side wall of the tire.
  • Pick up your bicycle and spin each wheel. It should run straight and not rub the brakes.
  • Check to make sure your wheel bearings are tight. Grab the wheel and try to move it from side to side. If there is play in the bearings, you should have the wheel serviced.
  • Check your tires for any larger tears or sharp objects.

B – is for Brakes and Bars

  • Pull the brake levers tightly towards the bars. You should be able to slide your hand between the lever and hand grip on both sides. If your brake lever pulls all the way back and touches your handlebars, try adjusting the threaded adjustment screws (barrel adjusters). If more than a slight adjustment is needed, take the bicycle to a shop to be repaired. Finally, make sure there are no worn or frayed cables.

  • Check to make sure that the brake pads come in full, flat contact with the rims and do not contact the tires. Brake pads rubbing on the tire can cause a blow out.
  • Check to make sure there are no worn or frayed cables.
  • Check the brake pads for wear, as riding with worn brake pads decreases your braking power. Brakes pads have vertical wear indicators - if these are almost worn away or are not visible, replace the brake pads as soon as possible.
  • While standing over your bicycle, pull the front brake fully and rock the bike back and forth. There should not be any play in the bearings of the headset.

Stem. Headset.

  • Stand in front of your bicycle with the front wheel tightly held between your legs. Try and twist the bars from side to side. If the bars twist, you need to tighten the stem. You should not ride the bicycle if the bars move easily.

C – is for Chain and Crank

  • Check to make sure your chain is clean, lubricated and running smoothly. A dirty chain will cause increased wear and result in costly repairs. Always remember to use a lubricant designed for bicycles.
  • Grab the pedal arm and try to wiggle it towards and away from the frame. There should not be any play in the bearings of the bottom bracket.

Quick – is for quick releases

  • If you have quick releases on your wheels and seat, make sure they are tight and are not easy to open.

  • If you do not have quick releases, check to make sure that the wheel bolts are tight and the wheels secure.

Watch this video to learn more about quick releases.

Final “Check”

  • As a final check, pick your bicycle up 10 cm (three to four inches) off the ground and drop it. If there are any rattles or something falls off, your bike requires attention.

ABC quick check: short version

You may not need to do the full ABC Quick Check each time you ride, but conducting a shortened version is a good habit to get into.

The short version of the ABC Quick Check is performed somewhat in reverse and takes less than a minute to do:

  • Check - Pick your bike up about 10 cm (three to four inches) off the ground and drop it. Did anything rattle or fall off?
  • Quick - If you have quick releases on your wheels and seat, make sure they are tight and are not easy to open.
  • C - Check the chain to ensure that it is well lubricated.
  • B - Pull both brake levers and make sure that they do not pull all the way back to the handlebars. With both brakes engaged, rock your bike back and forth checking for any play in the steering.
  • A – Check that both tires are fully inflated.

Watch this short video about bike maintenance.

Watch this video about a short inspection of your bike before you ride.