In addition to exercising caution on the roads and following road rules, bicyclists can help prevent accidents and serious personal injury by keeping their bicycles in good condition. Proper maintenance ensures that a bicycle is safe to ride and responds well in an emergency. A poorly-maintained bicycle can break down and even cause an accident. Tips for property bicycle maintenance include:
1) Keep your handle bars well aligned. This can help you keep control of your bicycle. If your bike is not steering or responding well, take a look at the handle bars. Also, make sure that the bicycle – and handle bars – are suited for your height. Get a professional to help you if you are not sure if your bike is adjusted for you correctly.
2) Check your chains before you ride. If your chains fall off, you could fall off your bike – something that can be quite serious on a busy street. Check for signs of looseness, rust, and other problems.
3) Take your bicycle into a shop for a yearly tune up. Just as you would take your car in for regular tune ups, take your bike in periodically for a quick once-over, especially if you ride often. If there is a problem with your bike, take it in right away, before a problem causes an accident. While in a bike repair shop, check out the special classes many bicycle shops and stores have available – bike safety courses and bike repair courses are handy classes to take if you’re a bicyclist.
4) Don’t forget maintenance of your bike safety gear. You should replace your helmet if you have fallen from your bike and sustained an impact to the helmet. You should also replace your helmet if it no longer fits correctly. If you have an older helmet, make sure that it is DOT, ANSI, OR Snell-approved and meets current guidelines for safety. Check your elbow and knee pads for wear and tear as well. Your safety gear will not protect you correctly if it is too worn or old.
5) Store your bicycle correctly. Some bicycles – notably beach cruisers – can rust if they are stored in a cool, damp area. All chains can rust if exposed to water. Try to store your bicycle indoors and away from the elements, in a dry spot. Storing your bicycle correctly will make the bike last longer.
6) Check your tires. A flat tire can slow you down and can lead to an accident. Before you hop on your bike, check your brakes and your tires. If your tires are not the right pressure, add some more air before you go for a ride.