Inspecting Your Bike after an Accident

Even if you’re the world’s safest and most cautious biker, there’s always a chance you could end up in an accident. When you’re on a bike moving for­ward on two thin wheels, you’re completely exposed. Add in the fact that you’ll end up biking on busy roads, crowded bike paths, or the ever dangerous off — road trails, and you increase the odds that you’ll have a crash eventually.

Always wear a helmet, wear biking gloves, and keep a cellphone and identifi­cation with you at all times.

If you do end up in an accident, the first thing you should do is make sure you’re okay. The shock of being involved in a collision may keep you from realizing that you’re injured. If after checking yourself out, you’re lucky enough to have nothing more than a scratch or two, the next thing to con­sider is the state of your bike.

Most modern bikes are designed with components and materials that can resist certain types of impact. However, in the case of an accident, you’ll want to thoroughly inspect your bike before getting back on it to ride. Something may have come loose or the collision may have caused a weak­ness in the frame or some other part of the bike that may become apparent later on down the road.

Looking for looseness

One of the simplest ways to identify if there is a problem with your bike after a crash is to check for looseness. Spend a few minutes to make sure that all the parts of your bike are still securely fastened and in place as they should be. You’re much better off finding a potential issue at this point rather than discovering it when the part falls off your bike.

To check for looseness, perform the following steps:

1. Straddle the front wheel pinching it between your thighs.

2. Grip the handlebars and try to twist them side to side.

3. Straddle the frame, squeeze the brakes, and try to rock the bicycle back and forth.

If there is play in the handlebars or stem, it could mean either that the clamp bolts need to be tightened or you have a loose headset, some­thing that could be dangerous at high speeds.

4. While straddling the bike, use the handlebars to lift the front wheel off the ground.

5. Drop the handlebars and let the bike hit the ground.

If you hear any jingling or rattling, it could mean that something on the bike is loose. Repeat the procedure to isolate the location of the noise.