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Bicycling Tips

Let us help you upgrade your bicycle street-smarts and dirt-skills with practical advice and encouragement to maximize your next cycling adventure!

The “A-B-C-Quick” Check

Picture of the handlebars of a bike as cycling gear
Picture of the handlebars of a bike as cycling gear

The “A-B-C-Quick” Check

“I’m exhausted!” you exclaim, as you pull your bicycle over at the two-mile mark of your 20-mile ride. “How can that be?” you ask your riding partner. He quickly notes that as he rode behind you, he did notice a rubbing noise going on. Sure enough, that’s the problem. You were exhausted so quickly because you didn’t check your brakes. Your wheel was rubbing on your brakes every rotation creating resistance as you tried to glide down the pavement.


Have you ever run into this problem? Try using the A-B-C Quick Check as a routine way to make sure you are ready to ride. Doing this every time you ride will prevent many hardships and complications for you and your pocketbook. Remember, you are not quickly checking your A-B-C’s, you are checking your A’s, B’s, C’s and your “Quicks.” Here goes:

A = Air

Air – PSI does not stand for Pedaling Sans Inflation. Please excuse my French, but this is a basic thing. PSI stands for Pounds per Square Inch (you knew that), and it needs to be checked before each ride. Air pressure is vital. Too little and the ride will drag, plus if you hit a hole, it may not provide the shock absorption needed and you could break something (the tube, a spoke, your head). Seriously, check the PSI with a bicycle air pump. You can find the correct PSI for your bicycle on the side-wall of your tire.

B = Brakes

Brakes – Rubbing brakes are the worst. You would never drive your car with you Emergency Brake on would you? It never makes for a fun day on the bike either. Let’s check to make sure they are not making it harder for you to ride. The same process is used for both types of brakes below.

  • Rim Brakes
    • As the name suggests, rim brakes use the rim of the wheel as the braking surface. The brake pads need to be free from touching the wheel except for when you’re putting on the brakes. Makes sense, right? But things move and adjust over time, and if your brakes are touching the rim of your wheel, it will drag. So, before each ride, check to see that your brakes are free to function the way they are supposed to. When you spin your wheel, there should be space in-between the brakes and the wheel-rim (on both sides). Can you hear or see it rubbing? If so, adjust the brakes, pump the brakes, and test again until the problem is fixed.

  • Disk Brakes
    • A bicycle brake “caliper” attaches to the frame or the fork and squeezes a steel disc (“rotor”) on the wheel to stop you as you ride. So, before each ride, check to see that your brakes are free to function the way they are supposed to. When you spin your wheel, there should be space in-between the steel disk (rotor) and the brake pads inside the caliper (on both sides). Can you hear or see it rubbing? If so, adjust the brakes, pump the brakes, and test again until the problem is fixed. You will likely need a hex wrench to adjust your disk brakes.

C = Crankset

Crankset – This is your chain and the rear cassette it turns on to provide power and movement. Is the assemblage shiny and clean, or dirty and rusty looking? Use a bicycle friendly degreaser to clean if dirty, allow it to dry, then oil it. It’s a good idea to oil the chain about every 100 miles. These items can be found at your favorite bicycle shop. More dirt equals more calories and effort on your part as you cycle.

“Quick” = Quick Releases

Quick, get on your bike and let’s ride! Well, before you do, one more thing. Many bicycles have “quick releases” on the wheel axles and the seat posts. These should be snug, but don’t overly tighten. You don’t want your tire to fly off your bike if you hit a bump. That makes for a bad day.

PSI good? Brakes good? Crankset good? Quick releases good? Now, quick, get on that two-wheeled apparatus and let’s ride!

P.S. – A big thank you to Ends Cycling Alumni, Rick Willis who, with permission, took our cycling knowledge and turned it into a wonderful blog for us. We bless you Brother!

~The Ends Cycling Crew

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