Check the following items on your bike on a regular basis to ensure it is in good working order.
Front Tyre And Wheels
Lift the front end of the bike by the handlebar stem and then:
- Give the top of the wheel a bang with your hand to check that it doesn’t fall out of the forks or move from side to side.
- Check the wheel doesn’t move from side to side when you try to wobble it, to be sure the bearings aren’t worn.
- Spin the front wheel – the brakes shouldn’t rub on the wheel rim.
- Squeeze the sides of the tyre – inflate it if it feels soft.
- Look for gaps, cuts or bulges on the tyres – these are signs that the tyres are worn and need to be replaced.
If you have a front mudguard, there should be at least 5mm of space between it and the tyre. If the mudguard grinds on the tip of your shoe while you cycle, remove it.
Lift the back of the bike by the seat and repeat the inspections for the back wheels.
Apply the front brakes. Check that:
- The brakes work – try pushing the bike forward with the brakes on.
- The brake pads sit evenly on the wheel rim – they shouldn’t touch at one end and not the other.
- The cables inside the brake levers aren’t frayed.
- The brake levers and handgrips are tight on the handlebars, all the nuts and screws are attached and the ends of the handlebar tube are covered.
Apply the rear brake and repeat the tests. When you press the brakes and push the bike ahead, the rear tyre should slide rather than roll.
Handlebars And Steering
All of the handlebar components should be snug, and you should be able to steer freely. Release the brakes and position yourself in front of the front wheel, gripping it between your knees. Then, when you attempt, check sure nothing is loose:
- turn the handlebars from side to side
- apply the brakes and try to rotate the handlebars
Your saddle should be adjusted to a comfortable height for you.
Place one of your heels on the pedal. When the pedal is furthest away from the saddle, your leg should straighten. Make sure you don’t elevate the saddle high enough to view the seatpost’s height restriction mark. If you require the saddle to be this high for you to sit comfortably, you should definitely get a larger bike.
Move to the back of the bike and grip the saddle hard. Make sure you can’t move it up and down or side to side. Tighten it if it moves.
Chain, Gears And Pedals
Request that someone operate the pedals by hand as you lift the back wheel off the ground using the saddle. Then:
- Shift through all the gears on the back sprocket (a small wheel through which the chain passes) and front gear changer to check the chain stays on and moves smoothly.
- Wobble each pedal from side to side to check they don’t move too much. If they do, the bearings in the bottom bracket need replacing.
Check that the chain isn’t dangling, broken, or rusted. If necessary, lubricate the chain with some oil.