More and more people regularly ride their bikes in autumn and winter. In the dark season, however, the risk of accidents is particularly high due to slippery conditions and poor visibility. It is advisable to check the functionality of the bike in autumn and make a small safety check. Many bicycle shops and workshops offer such a check for prices around 50 euros, but the waiting times are sometimes long. You can do a lot yourself.
1. Well lit drives safer
A well-lit bike is especially important in autumn and winter. According to the law, it must have a white front light and a white reflector at the front, red tail light and a red reflector must be available at the rear. In addition to the front and rear lights, the pedals at the front and rear must be equipped with yellow reflectors. Yellow reflectors on the front and rear wheel are mandatory between the spokes. A legal alternative is reflective white stripes on the tire flanks.
Check whether the lights work properly at the front and back. If not, check whether the bulbs are broken or whether the wiring between the dynamo and lamps is broken. The contacts may also be rusted or bent. If you are installing new lights, you should use bright LED lights if possible. Models with parking lights and automatic sensor systems that automatically switch on in the dark are recommended. If you still have an older bike without a hub dynamo, you should consider retrofitting. Advantages: hub dynamos run reliably even on wet roads and are very smooth-running.
2. Pay attention to light clothing
"Seeing and being seen" is particularly important in the winter months. In the long evening and night hours and the early morning, cyclists with dark clothing are often only noticed at the last moment. Reflective clothing significantly increases the safety of cyclists. Because this way, drivers can recognize them at a distance of 150 meters. In general, cyclists should wear light-colored clothing in autumn and winter. Additional light vests or jackets and pants with reflective stripes are ideal. There are also special covers for backpacks in reflective colors or reflectors to hang on.
3. Check the brakes
The brakes should of course always work well. Check that there is sufficient rubber on the brake pads and that the brake cables are intact. If in doubt, replace the pads and cables. On many models, the brakes that are too loose can be tightened using the adjusting screw on the brake cable.
4. Clean or change the chain
Check the chain for rust. If the rust is too strong, it must be replaced. Otherwise, it is enough to clean them. To do this, it is best to largely remove chain grease from the chain and sprockets with a dry cloth and then oil both well. Special bicycle oil from the bicycle shop is suitable for this, but cheap motor oil for the car also does its job. If the chain sags, it must be re-tensioned.
5. Are screws loose?
Check all screws once for tightness and tighten them if necessary.
6. Check the tires
It is important to have a tire with sufficient tread on wet or even slippery roads. If the profile is worn or there are porous spots on the sides, it is better to replace the jacket. The tire pressure can be slightly reduced in winter so that it is at the minimum pressure. Then the bike has more grip. In the bicycle trade, there are also special winter tires for bicycles that offer particularly good grip even in ice and snow. Tires with spikes are also available that are even suitable for black ice.