Pre-Ride Bike Safety Checklist

Cycling safety checklist

Verywell / Amelia Manley

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If cycling is a part of your workout routine, you may have a pre-ride routine that includes pumping your tires, filling your water bottles, and packing a couple of energy bars or having a bite to eat. But it's not a bad idea to get into a habit of doing a quick safety check to make sure your bike is in good condition as well.

Bikes, although pretty simple, can be finicky machines to maintain. Minor wear and tear can add up and over time it could cause mechanical failure.

To avoid having a breakdown out in the middle of nowhere (or somewhere you'd rather not be) take a minute to run through a quick pre-ride checklist and make sure you have what you need for a safe and enjoyable ride. These are a few of the items you should consider taking on a long bike ride.

Safety and Emergency Repair Checklist

Most emergency gear will fit easily in a special bag that attaches under your bicycle seat. These bags are sold at bike shops and come in a variety of sizes and styles. You can store many of the essentials you need in these bags.

You also should make sure you know how to repair a flat tire and how to do minor bike repairs. Practice at home before you need to do it on the road. Most bike shops offer classes on basic bike repair, which could be a useful skill to have.

Safety and Emergency Checklist

  • Properly fitting helmet
  • Sunglasses or other eye protection
  • Pump (consider a pump frame that attaches to bike)
  • Patch kit or spare tube
  • Toolkit for basic repairs, including wrenches that fit your bicycle
  • Rain gear
  • First aid kit
  • Reflectors and flashing rear safety light
  • Brightly colored clothing to improve visibility
  • Adequate water and a water bottle cage or hydration pack
  • Energy foods and snacks
  • Map or directions
  • Extra cash for emergencies
  • Your driver's license or other ID, plus an emergency contact person and medical information

Biking Comfort and Clothing Checklist

Outdoor cycling equipment is designed to keep you safe and comfortable. For this reason, many cyclists wear cycling shoes and use clipless pedals that allow cycling shoes to lock into place.

A simple twist of the foot releases the shoe from the pedal. Clipless pedals also allow cyclists to pull up as well as push down on the pedals and create a much more efficient pedal stroke and faster speeds.

Likewise, bicycle seats, also called saddles, come in a variety of shapes and sizes. To find the best one for you, try several types.

Clothing and Comfort Checklist

  • Padded gloves to reduce pressure and "road shock," which can cause numb or tingling fingers
  • Cycling shoes with firm soles
  • Bike shorts with a padded lining
  • Anatomic bike seat
  • Jacket to block wind and rain
  • Arm warmers, leg warmers, extra clothing as appropriate
  • Moisture wicking clothing to help keep skin dry and comfortable
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm with sun protection

Pre-Ride Safety Inspection

Before each ride, perform a safety check of your bicycle. This only needs to take a minute or two but will help prevent avoidable accidents.

Do a slow-speed ride and inspect bicycle, brakes, and shifting before you leave your driveway. Following these guidelines will go a long way to enjoying your bike rides and will often help you prevent unexpected incidents or a long walk home. 

Pre-Ride Safety Check

  • Check the tires for proper inflation (marked on the side of the tire).
  • Check the tire treads for excessive wear or other damage, such as embedded glass or other objects.
  • Check the brakes. Spin the wheels to check for rubbing and then apply the brakes to ensure they stop the bike smoothly and evenly.
  • Check the brake pads for excessive wear.
  • Check the cables and housing to make sure there is no fraying or splitting.
  • Check the wheel quick release levers to ensure they are secure.
  • Check for any loose parts or other mechanical problems.

A Word From Verywell

Cycling is fun, low-impact workout with a number of health benefits. But, it also can come with a few risks if you are not prepared. By following a routine before long rides, and checking to make sure you have everything you need to stay safe while on your ride you can help minimize the risks involved with cycling.

2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Mornieux G, Stapelfeldt B, Gollhofer A, Belli A. Effects of Pedal Type and Pull-Up Action During Cycling. Int J Sports Med. 2008;29(10):817-822. doi:10.1055/s-2008-1038374

  2. Arpinar-Avsar P, Birlik G, Sezgin OC, Soylu AR. The effects of surface-induced loads on forearm muscle activity during steering a bicycleJ Sports Sci Med. 2013;12(3):512-520. PMID:24149159

By Elizabeth Quinn, MS
Elizabeth Quinn is an exercise physiologist, sports medicine writer, and fitness consultant for corporate wellness and rehabilitation clinics.