[Another in our series of old posts rescued from our way-before-2009 website, this one by Richard Brockie.]
You have crashed – ouch! You have picked yourself up and feel like you can continue – what should you check on your bike before continuing? Some of the items listed below are obviously things which cannot be fixed whilst on the road, but are things which should be checked before continuing to ride so that you have an understanding of the condition of your bicycle.
- Tyres: Did both wheels survive the crash with the tyres inflated? If so, are the tyres still on the rims (clincher beads seated correctly, tubular tyre still firmly glued)?
- Bars: Almost certainly, these will have been knocked to the side to some extent. Straighten the bars as best as possible – this may be possible without loosening the stem using the “clamp the wheel between the knees” technique.
- Levers: If a lever has been knocked aside, a firm push with the hands is usually all that is required to straighten the thing again. It is likely to have been scraped by the pavement – if necessary, smooth the rough edges with a fine file.
- Wheels: Do the wheels still run true? If not, some judicious twiddling of nipples may be required to make the wheel ridable again. See here for some good advice on how to go about building wheels – truing them is a subset of the skills required to build them – see the section on tensioning and truing.Did the chain meet the spokes? If so, there will be nicks in the spokes and those spokes will need to be replaced as, in time, they *will* break at the nicks.
- Derailleur hanger: If the bike landed on its right side, it is possible that the derailleur hit the ground which will result in scratches on the mechanism and can also lead to the hanger being bent. The quickest test is to see whether the derailleur is still clear of the sopkes with the chain in the big cog (do this while not riding the bike!). Next, does the indexing of the gears still work OK? If in doubt, take the bike to a shop where they can check the alignment.
- Saddle: Depending on the acrobatics performed in the crash, the saddle can get knocked askew. Straighten as required.
- Frame: If the crash involved a collision, then also check the frame alignment. Head-on collisions are the ones which cause most problems and there are 3 easy things to check:
- Fork: If the blades are the curled type, then ensure that the blades continue in a straight line out of the crown which is parallel to the head tube before they begin curl.
- Down tube: Check for wrinkles, lifted paint or cracks on the down tube, especially on the underside at the junction with the head tube.
- Top tube: Check for wrinkles, lifted paint or cracks on the top tube, especially on the underside at the junction with the head tube.
If in doubt, a bike shop can do a more thorough check for you ensuring that the dropouts are correctly aligned and checking the trueness of the rear triangle.