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Always Be Checking

Updated: Nov 15, 2022

Make Sure You’re Doing Your ABCs Before Every Ride

Here in Southern Ontario, we are well into spring and mountain biking season. Woohoo! Whether you’ve recently acquired a new bike or rocking your current mighty steed, we always want to treat all of our bikes with the same love and importance.

Regardless of your skill level or riding experience, at all levels, riders can begin to get acquainted with their bikes to promote equipment safety and longevity by doing a quick ABC bike check before every ride. Some people complete this check after a ride, so their bike is ready to go for the next. But it’s important to always double-check things before hitting the trail just in case something comes loose or maybe flat during transit (i.e. if you’re driving to a trailhead to ride).

Bike checks can be as straightforward or as complex as you’d like, but we always want to ensure we’re at least covering the basics mentioned below.

A - Air

  • Check the front tire.

  • Check the rear tire.

We need to ensure our tires are properly inflated before heading out. This can mean making sure your tires have enough air, but also not too much air. It’s tough to give the exact PSI you want your tires at because there are so many variables involved and specific to each rider. We want to aim to have our tires feeling like a nice and ripe juicy orange when we squeeze them.

B - Brakes

  • Check the front brake.

  • Check the rear brake.

Brakes are super important! We need to know they are working correctly to have 100% trust in our bike to do its job, including slowing down or coming to a complete stop on demand. First, lift the front end of the bike up, spin the front wheel, allow it to rotate a couple times and then apply the front brake so it can abruptly come to a stop. Lift the rear end of the bike up and do the same as the front. Just make sure to spin the rear wheel forward so your pedals don’t backpedal and get your shins!

C - Check your Chain, Chain Ring, Cassette, Cables (aka your drive train)

  • Lube your chain (use a bike-specific lubricant based on the conditions you’ll be riding).

  • Jump on your bike and ride for a minute, shifting through a few gears easier and few gears harder to ensure your shifting is working correctly.

Lubing your chain is probably one of the most overlooked areas. You should be lubing your chain every ride. This will help your drivetrain run much smoother and promote the longevity of its life before needing to replace parts.

Ensuring that your shifting is working correctly will mean a much better time and less fatigue and frustration on the trail.

*D* - Drop

  • Lift your bike about 6” off the ground and drop it evenly while *listening*

After completing your ABC, the Drop Test is a quick way to identify any additional problems. This is a listening exercise - you are listening for any odd rattles or clunks that may identify a loose headset, axle, frame linkage, etc.

My best piece of advice is to get familiar with what your bike should sound like - a relatively quiet landing (minus any chatter from your chain).

If you’re unsure of anything mentioned above, book a Private Lesson to not only progress your skills but to build a deeper understanding and relationship with your mountain bike. We begin every lesson with an ABC*D bike check with our students to help them learn and empower them to be confident with their bikes.

Find out more on our Private Lessons and how to book here.

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