Almost every kid owns a bike which can be a great source of enjoyment. Here are a few helpful hints to help you enjoy your bike safely. You should...
- When riding on the street, keep right and ride single file. Observe all traffic signals and signs, the same as other vehicles do.
- Signal before turning or stopping.
- Avoid riding on sidewalks.
- Never carry other riders on your bike.
- Never carry bulky packages on your bike that might hinder the control of your bike..
- Never attach your bike to a moving vehicle or allow others to attach their bikes to yours.
- Make sure your brakes, lights, tires and fenders are properly adjusted.
- Have reflectors on front and rear lights.
- Write down the serial number, make and model of your bike and put it, along with a photograph of your bike, in a safe place. Perhaps your parents would put it in their bank safety deposit box. In the event your bike is ever stolen this will be helpful in getting it back to you. The serial number is usually found on the bottom of the crank housing. Turn the bike upside down and stand it on the seat and handlebars. The number should be found on the pedal crank housing.
- Keep your bike in good mechanical condition.
- Check your tires frequently. Tires should be inflated to 40 - 50 psi for off-road knobbies and 85 - 95 psi for road tires. If your tire leaks, fix it or have it fixed. A new inner tube costs only $3 - $4 at department or a bike store. Be sure to get the right size of inner tube for your tires. Inner tubes are measured by radius and for the width of the tube. For example, a 26 X 2.1 inner tube means that it fits a wheel that is 26 inches in diameter having a tire up to 2.1 inches wide.
- Check your wheels for true. If you turn your bike upside down (resting on the handlebars and seat), your wheel should spin freely and not rub the brakes. If your tire rubs the brakes, the brakes can eventually wear through the tire and cause it to shred. Also, a wheel that is out of true will wobble, creating stability problems (especially at higher speeds) and will take more energy to peddle. If your wheel is out of true, either adjust the spoke tension to bring it back in true or have a bike shop adjust it for you. If you have never trued a wheel before, have a bike technician give you instructions before attempting to do it yourself. Doing it incorrectly can ruin your wheels.
- Check your spokes. Turn your bike upside down (resting on the handlebars and seat) and check the tension of your spokes by lightly pinching two spokes that are next to each other together with your fingers. Do this for every pair of two spokes around each tire. Spokes should be intact and tight. Broken or loose spokes can cause your wheel to be out of true or to fail completely. If you find spokes that are loose or broken, have them replaced at a bike repair shop or bike store immediately.
- Check your brakes and brake pads. When you apply your brakes, they should be even and smooth, coming together on the rim of the wheel (not rubbing the tire) at the same time, forming a flat surface. If your brake pads rub your tires, they can eventually cause your tires to shred. If your brake pads do not come together evenly or if they do not form a flat surface (ie: if they toe in) on the rim, they can cause uneven wear on your pads or eventual damage your rim. If your brake pads are worn or need adjusting, have them replaced or fixed at a bike shop.
- Clean and oil your chain frequently: At least once a week, clean your chain with a rag and re-oil it. To do this, turn your bike upside down (resting on the handlebars and seat) and wrap a clean rag around the chain and hold the chain and rag in your hand. Turn your pedals very slowly so the chain goes through the clean rag for 30 seconds or so. After this is done, take your bike lubricant (available at any bike store for less than $3...I like to use Tri-flow) and apply it to the chain by holding the bottle upside down in one spot over the chain and dripping oil onto it as you slowly turn your peddles. Once the chain is well lubricated, wipe it again with a clean rag for several seconds using the same process you used to clean the chain. This removes the excess oil and keeps dirt from collecting on the chain so rapidly.
- Always wear your helmet! Buy a helmet that fits right. It should be snug and comfortable with no play as you shake your head. A good helmet doesn't have to cost hundreds of dollars but you should spend enough to get one that feels comfortable. If a helmet fits right and feels comfortable, you are more likely to wear it than if it is awkward and cumbersome. Have fun and ride safely.