1. Your Bike’s Condition Before You Leave
The better you take care of your bike, the longer it will last. Regular maintenance of your bike is essential. This is why there are some indispensable checks that you should do before each bike ride:
- If you rode your bike recently, check that there are no sharp objects stuck in the tyre, as that could cause it to deflate quickly.
- Spin the wheels to check that they are true (don’t wobble) and do not come into contact with the brake pads.
- Steering: perform a quick check by blocking the front wheel between your legs. The handlebar should not turn, but stay perpendicular to the bike frame.
- Check that the brake pads are not worn down (they should be around 5 mm thick). Make sure that they press fully on the rim (when activated), but not on the tyre. Quickly check the condition of the cables (splits or rust).
- Make sure that your chain has not gathered any rust since your last outing. To prevent the risk of rust, remember to dry your chain after each ride in the rain. Make sure that the lower part of the chain does not sag; that is a sign of a problem with the chain adjuster (which may have seized up or rusted).
- Make a quick check that all bolts are tight, particularly the wheels and saddle.
- Check that the front and rear derailleurs are clean and properly adjusted. You should be able to change gears smoothly while your bike is lifted off the ground. Improperly adjusted derailleurs are often the cause of falls.
- Check that your front and back lights are working properly.
- Having one is required.
Lastly, if you have a baby seat or tow bar on your bike, make sure that they are securely attached. A few moments spent checking your bike each time you set out will make a big difference in ensuring your safety as your ride on roads or trails.
2. What to Take on a Bike Ride?
Despite all the precautions you may take before leaving, minor incidents can still happen. Don’t panic! Here is a list of accessories and parts that you should take with you on every ride.
To start with, never leave without a hand pump. You should have one on each family member’s bike. It’s small and lightweight and allows you to quickly pump up your tyres.
Also take an inner tube along. If you’ve recently repaired your inner tube after having suffered a puncture, all the more reason not to forget to take one.
Water bottles or water packs are also essential regardless of the type of bike ride. Remember to equip your children’s bikes with a bottle cage and water bottle.
3. Safety Instructions
Lastly, it’s important to remember some safety instructions before setting out. Whether on a regular ride, such as to work or school or on a weekend outing with the family, the rules of the road remain the same and being prudent is a must.
- Whether riding during the day or at night, you must remain visible to others using the road. This is why we recommend equipping your bike as well as your children’s bikes with wheel reflectors, or wheel valve reflectors. In addition to the mandatory front and rear lights, these will increase your visibility and make drivers more aware of your presence. You can also wear reflective gilets and/or other reflective accessories (armbands, reflective bell, fluorescent bag cover, etc.)
- Also, don’t forget to wear a helmet in order to stay safe while riding. This is important not only for the children but also for you, for protection in case of a fall. To ensure maximum effectiveness, remember to replace your helmet in the event of an impact, and in any case after four years of use. You should wear the correct helmet for your type of cycling (road or mountain bike freeride, for example).
- It’s also vital that everyone follows the rules of the road, for their own safety and that of others.
- Additionally, regardless of the weather, you should wear clothes that are breathable and help keep you at a comfortable temperature. Whether it’s a jersey that actively helps perspiration escape in hot weather or waterproof clothing in rainy weather, the goal is to stay comfortable on every ride. Otherwise, cycling will be a less pleasant experience and you’re likely to cut your rides short.
- To make sure that everyone has a good time, remember to plan a route that is suitable for all! Take into account weather, itinerary, type of road, level of difficulty, distances, etc.
- Plan your trip based on your level of experience and that of your children, as well as your personal preferences (flat trails, or steep climbs). A map and/or a GPS device will also prove very useful!
Lastly, make sure to make stops along the way — for cultural or sightseeing purposes — in order to combine that which is used with that which is enjoyable, for both young and old!
Original Post Decathlon Blog