9 Things To Check Before Every Ride

Women on road bikes
Get into the habit of making these pre-ride checks (Credit: Nielsen Cerbolles)

When you get into the habit of riding most days a week for your commute or training sessions, it’s easy to forget a few things in the process. Common examples are usually related to kit checks and making sure your bike is still in good shape. A quick check of these things before every ride will keep you safe and make sure you’re getting the most out of your ride, whether you’re embarking on a new cycle challenge, taking part in a sportive or tackling one of cycling’s toughest climbs.

In this article, we’ve listed some quick and easy pre-ride checks. They might seem like a lot, but they’re relatively simple and once you get into a routine, they can be done pretty quickly. Lots of minor tweaks can prevent a major and expensive issue down the line. For the more detailed mechanical checks, have a look at our earlier article: 8 Maintenance Tips Every Cyclist Should Know.

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Pre-ride kit check

This one should be pretty obvious but make sure you’re wearing the right kit. A T-shirt, jeans and a pair of slides aren’t adequate kit for a six-hour epic (we don’t think so anyway). That being said, you probably don’t need to be donning your skinsuit for a 20-minute commute. Dress for the conditions and dress for the ride. No matter what the attire, always remember a helmet and, as detailed in our 10 Mistakes That Every New Cyclist Makes article, make sure you’re wearing it right!

Pre-ride accessory check

The pre-ride accessory check is especially important for commuters. In the morning rush of sorting out work clothes, bag and train tickets, it can be very easy to forget your lights and lock. That’s why it’s essential to get into the habit of packing your work bag, including your lock, the night before and always making sure your lights are charged before and during your time at the office. For more on locks, check out our Ultimate Guide To Bike Locks.

Make sure you have food and drink

On long training rides and cycling events, food and drink should be near enough the top of your list of priorities. You’ll find yourself bonking very quickly if you leave without a couple of bottles and some fruit or energy bars. Stay stocked up.

Tyres

One quick habit to get into is checking the tyres. Even just giving them a quick squeeze to ensure that they’re not too soft is a quick and easy thing to do on a regular basis. Before a big ride, use a track pump and inflate the tyres to the correct pressure. This can be found on the sidewall of the tyre. If not properly inflated, you run the risk of suffering a pinch puncture. Also make sure to inspect the tread for wear and cuts.

Wheels

Having loose wheels is a potentially very dangerous scenario to find yourself in. To avoid disaster, check your quick release skewer/thru axels are tightened properly and that the wheel spins freely. If there is any brake rub or a wobble in the wheel it likely means that the rim is buckled and needs truing. This is a relatively inexpensive fix and will be no problem for your local bike shop.

Brakes

Like wheels and brakes, bolt tension is another crucial check that will keep your bike from being potentially dangerous. Check that all the bolts on your headset, handlebars and stem are not loose. Use a torque wrench for this, the level each bolt needs to be adjusted to is written on each component.

Gears

Making sure that the gears are shifting as they should be is a very quick check to do pre-ride. Run through the gears and change each cog on the cassette to see if everything is running smoothly. If not, you might need to make some minor adjustments using the barrel adjusters or at the derailleur for more serious tweaks.

Chain

Keeping your bike clean is a good rule to follow in general but we’re going to focus specifically on the chain. Lubricating it before each ride will keep it healthy and make sure that everything works in harmony. If it’s mucky, regularly applying some degreaser and cleaning it with a brush should keep it going nicely throughout the week.

Now you have a short-term list of things to check on a regular basis before you leave on a ride, but how about the long-term? One of these would surely be added protection with cycle insurance. Pedalsure can protect you and your accessories in mass participation events and races, in cases of bike theft, personal injury, personal liability, during events and abroad. Most of the things that we cover can't be found in your home insurance policies. This is one pre-ride measure that you don’t have to check before every ride.

Need something to lock your e-bike bike up with when you’re out and about? You can now get a free gold rated Hiplok DX D-lockworth £69.99 with any new insurance policy, just one of many ways we protect both you and your bike.

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