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Summer Bike Safety

Summary: Tips for checking out a bike before that first summer ride.

I'm going out for my first ride of the summer. Is there anything I need to do with my bicycle before I start?

Yes, and it will only take about ten minutes.

  • First, clean the dust off of it. That helps you get back in touch with it, and remember anything you meant to do over the winter. While you are dusting, check for loose parts like saddle or handlebars. If your bike has quick release levers on the wheels, make sure they are snugly closed. Check the tires for wear or dry rot.

  • You always need to inflate your tires. Inflate them to the pressure molded into the side wall. Soft tires make the bike harder to pedal, and you'll have more flats.

  • Lube the chain. Squeaky chains actually will break from excess internal friction. In the meantime, they rob you of some pedaling energy.

  • Adjust your saddle if necessary. Saddle adjustment can be important for comfort and to avoid pressure in the wrong places, particularly on the first rides of summer.

What about equipment? What do I need for safety? A helmet, of course.

The helmet is the most important, yes. Make sure it is well adjusted, fits level, and won't slip around too much. In addition to that:

  • Gloves protect your hands from chafing, and keep the skin intact if you crash.

  • Bike shoes are good because they have rigid soles and spread the pedal pressure evenly. More of your energy gets to the pedal. Running shoes are fine for shorter rides.

  • The top that you wear should have a close-fitting neckline. The ones that flop open or hang down are called "bee-catchers."

Anything special to do if I'm taking a child with me?

If you have children, review the basic safety rules with them while you are checking over their bike.

So we're all set to go. Any advice for that first ride?

Ride around the block to be sure your bike is ready. Plan an easy first outing to avoid dragging in to the office on Monday with sore muscles. If the weather is hot, drink plenty of water and take it easy for the first few rides until your body is acclimated to the heat. And use sunscreen to prevent burning.

Summer riding is great fun. It is one of the four best seasons to ride a bicycle.

This page was reformatted on: May 2, 2015.
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