​How to Inspect Bike Frame [Updated Tips ​And ​Trick]

Updated

I came across a bike maintenance article the other day that really got me thinking hard about how much faith I put in my bike. I always just assume that it is going to take me to my destination, safely and hopefully quickly.

The article on bike frame repair gave me some really quick inspection points that I should be looking at on a regular basis. These points are important enough that I thought I should share them with you.

If you’re curious as to why bike maintenance and repair are so important to me; go to my Where It All Began page and find out the reason.

Parts of the Bike

Before we get into the specifics of where to look, let’s get some of the bike terminology out of the way. I’ve inserted a picture (below) to show the parts of the frame so that you will know what areas the rest of the article is referring to.

Cracks in the Bike Frame

I cannot emphasize enough how important this one point is. Most of us ride a lot of different places and on a lot of varying terrains. Our bikes do take quite a beating and most of the time we get home and just put them away until our next ride (where we hop back on and start to pedal once again).

You need to check for cracks on a regular basis at all the welded areas as well as all the areas where the frame is butted together. If in doubt about whether a crack is a crack or just a scratch it would be a really good idea to contact your local bike maintenance shop so that they could have a look. A very common area of cracking is typically found on your down tube just behind your headtube. You do not want this area to fail while you are riding your bike!

Corrosion in the Bike Frame

This is another one that tends to sneak up on you over time. Whenever our metal bikes are exposed to water, there is always a chance that the metal will start to rust and will eventually start the corrosion process. This is a bad scenario for a bike frame.

The most common areas for corrosion to take hold would be inside your bike frame where water has had a chance to get in but there is not enough air flow for it to dry off quickly. A good place to check would be your down tube.

This is an area that is quite susceptible to water getting in. Water can get into your frame in a number of ways but the most common are through riding in wet conditions and also by directly spraying your bike with water while washing it. When washing your bike, you should always try and wash it by hand and not pressure spray the frame. If you need to spray the frame, do not spray directly on areas that have openings or joins.

The easy way to check for corrosion would be to remove your seat post from your frame and push a clean cloth inside the down tube. If the cloth comes out with a reddish tinge (i.e. rust colored) then you may want to have local bike maintenance shop do a more thorough inspection to ensure that there is no corrosion building.

Check the Chainstay for Wear

Ever had a bike chain come off while riding? My guess is that you have probably had more than one occurrence of this. Each time it comes off there is the potential for minor amounts of damage to occur in the area of your chainstay. Most bikes have chain guards that protect the frame (if you don’t have one, I would suggest getting one). Check this area for nicks and scratches as well. If your chain guard is worn simply replace it.

Check for a Bent Frame

If you ride your bike enough, you start to get a feel for how it handles while riding. There may come a time (typically after a crash) that the handling just doesn’t seem the same. When this happens, you should start thinking “bent bike frame?. Before you do that though there are a few other areas to check first:

  • ​Ensure that there are no bulges in your bike tire
  • ​Ensure that one of your bike rims are not bent
  • ​Ensure that your headset is not pitted (over time your headset can become loose from wear which will take away from the bike’s handling capability).

​Summary

​So those are the areas to watch for as your bike ages. A good home bike maintenance program (that really doesn’t take much time) will indeed check for cracks, corrosion and general wear that could result in an unsafe bike. I highly suggest that you start one today.

​Ever had a bike frame failure as a result of a crack? I would really like your story here so that others can see the importance of this one topic. We all ride our bikes to have fun, not to get hurt. Stay safe out there.

Summary
Robert Flaherty
 

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