The urge kicks in, you gear up, and you mount the bicycle with your trusty helmet. All ready to go to take on the streets. For most, that’s probably all the safety checks we conduct – proper attire, helmet and making sure the bell and brakes are working. As for the bike itself, we trust the mechanics at the shop to have done their due diligence.
However, the onus is still on the cyclist to ensure that a thorough check is conducted before venturing outside. Perhaps you’re unsure of what things to look out for; after all, most cycle as a hobby or a form of exercise.
With the recent passing of the Active Mobility Bill, it’s important that cyclists adhere to the regulations such as ensuring that they have functioning front white and rear red lights in the dark to ensure a safe journey for everyone.
If you’re not sure where to begin, fret not because here are five essential safety checks to help you.
1. Check your tyres
If you can’t drive a car with a flat tyre, you definitely can’t ride a bike with one. It is recommended that you invest in a pump with a pressure gauge so that you can tell when you’ve inflated your tyres with the right amount of air. While you don’t have to inflate your tyres every time you go for a ride, doing a quick check by squeezing the tyres or using a pressure gauge to measure tyre pressure is crucial.
2. Check your brakes
You wouldn’t want to find out that your brakes are faulty in an emergency or when you’re trying to slow down before intersections or crossings. To check if your brakes are working, squeeze both brake levers and push your bike forward, making sure that it stops. Also ensure that the brake pads make good contact with the rims. The levers should not touch the handlebar and the brake pads should not remain in contact with the rims when released.
3. Check your wheels and seat
Ever inspected the wheels of your bicycle out of curiosity and wonder what it is that secures the wheels to the bicycle frame? Well, for some bicycles, it’s a small mechanism called a quick release skewer. While it should always be fastened, it definitely doesn’t hurt to make sure that it’s fully tightened, especially if you’re a bicycle enthusiast who tinkers around.
For non-quick-release type wheels that use an outer axle nut, make sure it’s tightened and if not, use a wrench to secure it.
Similarly, ensure your seat (which uses a similar mechanism as a quick release) is fully secured to avoid any accidents. For safety of mounting and dismounting as well as better balance, the seat height should be adjusted such that there is a slight bend at the knee of your extended leg when your foot is on the pedal at its lowest position. The angle of the seat should be adjusted to your own comfort and should not be tilted to avoid numbness or injury.
4. Check your attire
In the wise words of numerous stylists, always be dressed for the occasion. And every outing is a chance to showcase your style and personality! Wearing proper protective equipment, such as helmet and gloves, may not sound enticing to the casual cyclist but as Disney’s musically inclined and magical nanny Mary Poppins once sang: “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.”
So have fun shopping for the right attire and colour so you can go from drab to fab! Bright or luminous clothing is recommended so that you can be easily spotted by other pedestrians and motorists, especially at night. For extra protection from dust, source for a pair of protective eyewear that is usable anytime of the day.
5. Check your lights
Visibility is important on the streets so aside from bright clothing, it’s essential to ensure your front white and rear red lights are equipped and working. If you take your cue from a famous night vigilante and prefer the cover of darkness for your adventures, make sure they’re charged and switched on.
Of course, these are just some of the many topics covered in bike maintenance workshops. Suitable for both adults and kids, these workshops offer a hands-on approach where besides safety checks, you can learn more about bicycles.
For the uninitiated, it would definitely be wise to check out Shimano Singapore’s basic bike maintenance workshop. It will be held on 29 Apr (Saturday), 11am at 6 Stadium Walk. Find out more details on their Facebook page or register for it here.
While you’re there, be sure to visit Shimano Cycling World – an experiential cycling gallery suitable for anyone. From an interactive panel that provides information such as weather updates and user-generated cycling routes to an installation of moving sprockets, wheels and chains, to their library of cycling related reading materials, there’s something for everyone.
Alternatively, keep an eye out for Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) Safe Riding Programme. Launching later this year, the programme aims to equip you with the knowledge and skills to ride safely and is open to cyclists and users of personal mobility devices (PMDs) such as electric scooters.