ABC Quick Check – Do It!

ABC Quick Check is a simple way to check out your bike before a ride. A is for Air. Are your tires pumped up to the proper pressure? B is for Brakes. Are they adjusted correctly? Do they stop your bike? C is for Cranks and Chains. Any looseness in the cranks when you pull on them? Is the chain moving smoothly over the sprockets? Quick is for the Quick Release levers on your wheels. Are they tightened properly? Check is for a checkout of the bike before riding. Hop on, pedal a little bit. Does everything seem OK?

Preston Tyree, the education director for the League of American Bicyclists, does a demo of the ABC Quick Check.

The League of American Bicyclists, among other groups, promotes ABC Quick Check for all riders before they begin their rides. If done properly, it takes only a minute, and it’s a good way to make sure everything is shipshape. I do it. Mostly. But lately I’ve been slipping. And on Saturday’s ride, that slippage could have caused a big problem.

Earlier in the afternoon, I put my bike on the bike stand to wash it. I took off both wheels to do a thorough scrub job, then put the wheels back on while the bike was still on the stand.

They went on okay, but the front didn’t seem as secure as it usually does. After a day of yard work and other honey do’s, I couldn’t wait to get out on a ride, so I set the bike aside and jumped into my bike clothes.

This was going to be an easy ride, but I still wanted to sneak in a little hard work. I went out to the Mopac route. On the return leg, I started thinking about that front wheel. I should really pull over to check it. But here comes an intersection I have to pay attention to. Got through that okay. I should really pull over to check it. But here comes the best downhill part of the route. I’ll stay on the hoods, instead of the drops this time. Above 30, against the wind — pretty good. Here comes the sweeping bend to the north. I’ll get into the traffic lane a bit to avoid the gouges in the asphalt on the shoulder. I should really pull over to check it. Man, going 21 up hill — doing great, but I should really pull over to check it. Maybe up at the end, when I turn into the Veloway…

I did pull into the Veloway, and stopped by the water fountain and covered benches at the start. Had a good swig of water. Okay, let’s check that front wheel. I loosened the quick release a bit — and the dropouts clicked into place over the axle.

I had just ridden more than 10 miles with a front wheel that wasn’t completely locked in place in the dropouts. If I had stayed on the shoulder through the big turn, and hit one of those gouges in the pavement, it could have had severe consequences.

This morning, I loaded the bike onto the car to drive to the start point of my ride. In the parking lot, while the rest of group were chatting and joking, I was doing a very careful ABC Quick Check. Make it a habit.


  1. Tim says

    Can’t say enough about the quick check. I once did the descent from Comanche Trail to Mansfield Dam with my brake quick releases open. Had just a little trouble slowing down…nice adrenaline spike.

    obtw, Preston is one of the best instructors I’ve ever met…if you get the chance, get in one of his classes.

  2. says

    Great advice. I remember a ride last year that practically killed me after 5 miles. I couldn’t figure out why I was having such a hard time. Further investigation found my rear-brake rubbing on the rim.

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