Congratulations if you washed down your road bike AFTER your last outing and left it gleaming and ready for its next trip!
Ok, don’t feel too guilty – you’re not the only one to avoid that job (“I’ll do it later when I’ve…”) and move onto the next thing without cleaning down your road bike.
Either way, there are a few components and vital parts that you really must check for road bike safety before using your bike.
Road Bike Tyres – For Pumped Up Rides
Check both that your tyre pressures are correct and there’s plenty of tread.
Inspect tyres for cuts or slices. Sometimes, bits of glass or grit become engrained in the tyre. Find yourself some kind of strong pick to carefully prise out anything you see. If you do discover any surface cuts or damage, you can fill temporarily with Superglue and you shouldn’t have any problems or detect any difference in the ride. However, if the tyre damage seems larger, don’t try and repair as the problem may be affecting the whole structure of the tyre itself. Certainly, if you spot the inner tube showing anywhere at all, it’s also a no-go. To venture out without changing that tyre is not worth the risk – the chances of it failing will be quite high and it’s likely to be when you’re furthest from home!
Road Bike Wheels – Avoid a Spin-Off
Check to ensure that whatever’s holding your road bike wheels in place at the fork or dropout are fixed securely. The quick-release skewer could have been slightly knocked sideways on a previous journey or when putting the bike away and the lever partly open. If it’s ‘skewed’, tighten it. Over the course of a ride, it could completely unlock and be enough to dislodge a wheel out of the frame or fork.
Make sure wheels nuts are tightened. Although uncommon for them to slacken off, it’s worth checking.
Road Bike Brakes – Soles Aren’t Enough
To be able to stop your bike predictably is of the utmost importance when it comes to road bike safety.
Grab both brake levers and rock the bike forwards and backwards to see they’re working properly. If you find a small amount of rocking at the front end of your road bike, it could be that your headset has become slightly loose so you’ll need to adjust it.
If you have to pull the brake levers pretty far back, it could be that your cables need attention. If your road bike uses caliper/rim brakes, a few turns of the barrel adjuster on the caliper itself will take up the slack. However, if the adjuster is already at its limit, screw all the way back in, pull the cable through and clamp back in to hold it securely in place. Excess travel in brake levers can also be due to worn brake pads so do check them too. If they are worn, replace.
Hydraulic brakes needing too much lever pull could be caused by two things: the pads need replacing (simple) or the system needs bleeding (more time needed).
Road Bike Chain – Feed Your Links
You’re probably not looking to do a complete clean and spruce up if your friends/family are waiting for you so it’s fine to run the chain through an old rag to get rid of any excess grease and dirt from from your bike’s last outing. Conversely, If the chain is bone dry, lubricate it, preferably with the correct lube for the weather conditions. At a push, some cyclists use cooking oil when they haven’t got the right product.