Heading into Spring under Lockdown Level four comes with a silver lining. Quiet streets make this a great time to build up confidence on your bike and cycle on through the months ahead! If you love a good weekend bike ride but you’re not comfortable mixing with the weekday traffic, read on. This handy guide will help you master Auckland’s streets on your bike!

Kids riding their bikes on a quiet road
Photo: Alec Tang

 

This week, we’ll check that your bike’s ready to ride and that you’ve got the skills to get out on the road. Next week we’ll share some safety tips to help you feel confident and keep you safe when you’re riding!

Check your bike’s ready to ride: the ABC Quick checklist

Give your bike a quick safety check, especially if it’s been a while since you last used it. Here’s the “ABC Quick” checklist.

  • A is for air. Press down forcefully on each tyre with your thumb or palm.The tyre should feel firm, like a well inflated basketball. If it flexes easily, pump in more air.
  • B is for brakes. Test each brake – one at a time – by squeezing the appropriate brake lever and rolling your bike forwards or backwards. The lever should feel firm and should stop the wheel from spinning. Make sure both brakes are working before you head out for a ride. If they’re not, your local bike shop can help.
  • C is for chain and control. Inspect the chain and drive system (cogs and xxx) for signs of rust or wear. The chain should be a little greasy to the touch. Control refers to the handlebar stem. Make sure your bike’s front wheel is securely controlled from the handlebars. If you’re not sure things are working, get someone with more knowledge to check them out. 


Now for the final part of the check – the “Quick” part. Most bikes have quick release levers which secure the wheel axles and saddle. Some bikes have a nut and bolt or through-axle set-up. Check each wheel is well secured to the bike frame, and that your saddle’s at the right height and firmly in place.

Close up shots of a seat post clamp and axel quick release, respectively.

^Quick release levers on the seat tube and front forks. These should be closed and feel firm (there will be a third located on the rear wheel).

Then make sure your helmet fits well, tuck any loose clothing away from moving parts of your bike and you’re ready to go!

Basic bike handling skills

Before you head out on the road you should be able to:

  • get on and off your bike easily
  • control and turn your bike and use the brakes (always use both brakes at the same time!)
  • lift one hand at a time off the handlebars to signal turns and stops
  • turn your head back to look behind you while you cycle straight ahead.

If these tasks sound challenging, practise away from the road, like at a school netball court or empty parking lot.

Then, once you’re confident you and your bike are up to the task, practise riding on the road. Check out our next post for road riding basics!

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