Take a moment to check the wheels before you depart on your next trip. Wheels are the only parts of the bike that are in contact with the road; ensuring that they’re secure and in good working order will help ensure that you yourself don’t come in contact with the road.
To inspect the wheels:
✓ Examine the quick-release levers to confirm that they’re securely fastened in the closed position. Open and close the levers once to confirm that they’re tight. If you find that they’re loose, open the lever, turn the nut opposite the lever a quarter-turn, and re-close the lever. Continue this procedure until properly tightened.
✓ Grab the frame with one hand and, with the other hand, give each wheel a shake from side to side to check for looseness (see Figure 18-4). There should little or no amount of play in the hubs. Any significant movement could be a sign that there is an issue with the wheel.
✓ While you’re grabbing the wheel, pluck its spokes. Like a string on a fine-tuned harp, they should respond with a consistent twang indicating they’re of similar tension.
Checking for looseness in the wheels.
✓ Lift the wheel off the ground and give it a spin to see that it doesn’t wobble and that the rim doesn’t contact the brake pads at any point. If the wheel doesn’t spin straight, it may need to be trued. Contact with the brake pads could also mean that the wheel isn’t properly seated in the dropouts. (See Chapter 7 if you have to make adjustments to your wheels.)