Checklist for safe cycling
1. Check the brakes
Make sure the foot brake engages properly. You should be able to brake while sitting without needing to apply too much force. If the foot brake engages poorly, contact Biltema for assistance.
For the rim brakes, make sure all screws are firmly tightened and that the brake pads are not worn. Squeeze the brake and make sure the brake pads touch the middle of the rim edge – not too high up nor too low down. The brake lever must not come too near to the handlebar when pressed. If this is the case, you may need to tension the wire. Carry out some hard test braking under controlled conditions to make sure the brake engages as you expect.
2. Retighten screws and bolts
A bicycle is subjected to vibration and shock when ridden, which means the screws and bolts may need to be retightened from time to time. Most importantly, the wheel bolts must be firmly tightened. Check all screws/bolts securing the rear rack, basket, mudguards, handlebar, etc. If you experience problems with loose screws, use thread-locking fluid to prevent loosening.
3. Check the reflectors and lights
Make sure that all reflectors are intact, clean and firmly secured. According to law, you must have
- a white reflector at the front
- a red reflector at the rear
- an orange reflectors on the sides
The side reflectors are usually mounted to the wheel spokes. Nowadays, some bicycle tires also have white reflective lines on the sides, which are also approved. Also make sure the front and rear bicycle lights function properly. Functioning bicycle lights are a legal requirement for cycling in the dark.
4. Check the pressure of the tires
Is the pressure of the tires correct? The recommended maximum and minimum pressures are usually specified on the side of the tires. Never deviate from these recommendations. Air pressure may be stated in bar, psi or kPa, so a bicycle pump with a pressure gauge is therefore recommended to ensure the correct tyre pressure.
High air pressure produces low rolling resistance and makes pedalling easier. This is good when cycling on hard surfaces such as asphalt. Lower air pressure is a little more comfortable and produces less vibration. Low air pressure also provides better traction on surfaces. This can be useful if you have wide tires and cycle on soft surfaces. For example, riding a mountain bike in the forest. Air pressure is an individual preference, so try out different pressures to see what suits you and your cycling habits.
Also check to ensure that the tires are intact and that there are no dry cracks. This is a sign that the rubber is old and dried out. Replace tires that have dry cracks.
5. Cycling posture: saddle, handlebar and stem
It is important to sit comfortably to prevent back or wrist pain. The saddle can be adjusted up and down and backwards and forwards. The height and angle of the handlebar also affect your posture. When sitting on the saddle with the pedal in its lowest position, you must be able to reach the pedal with your heel and your leg must be slightly bent. The front of your foot must also be able to touch the ground when sitting on the saddle.
A high handlebar allows for an upright posture and good comfort. This is good for cycling in city traffic because it allows you to turn your head and have full view of the traffic around you. A low, forward-leaning posture allows for more force against the pedals and produces lower air resistance. This is good for commuting longer distances or exercising. Many modern bicycles have an adjustable stem which allows you to easily adjust the height of the handlebar. You can also swap the handlebar if you prefer. Also make sure to choose a suitable saddle – hard or soft, narrow or wide.
Posture and comfort are highly individual, so you should try different positions until you are satisfied. When it comes to children, safety is the most important aspect. A child must be able to sit on the saddle with both feet flat on the ground.