Bike Maintenance: Five Essential Bike Checks Before You Ride

Just like with any machine, a bicycle will last longer and work more effectively if you take good care of it. Get in the habit of checking on the welfare of your bike by doing some simple maintenance checks before you ride, so that you can enjoy some smooth hassle-free riding for years to come.

In this guide we’re going to go over how you can keep your bike in good shape for longer in just five quick and easy steps.

The M Check

So, you may be wondering, what exactly is an M Check? Well, simply put, an M check for a bike is a quick methodical routine to check that your bike is safe and ready to ride. You should do a simple M check before every ride you embark upon, just to ensure everything is still as it should be on the bike. Remembering the M check is super easy as well, jut visualise the letter M over your bike, then check everything that you come across whilst following the letter.

Step One – The Rear Wheel

The first step on our journey is the rear wheel. There are a few little things to ensure your bike is ready for riding down here. Firstly, ensure that the wheel is tightly fitted and the quick-release lever is securely closed, this ensures that your wheel stays secure. After this, check your bikes tyres and make sure there’s no cuts, splits or bulges or there’s nothing embedded into the rubber. Finally, just check your tyre pressure and inflate if needed, once you’ve checked all that you can move along the M to the next step.

Step Two – The Saddle

A very important step to make sure everything checks out, if your saddle isn’t set-up properly then you may be in for some uncomfortable rides. Here’s what to do to check your saddle and ensure maximum comfort. First of all, we need to make sure everything is tight and secure. Grab the saddle at the front and rear and try to twist it side to side, if it moves then you need to tighten your seat post clamp. After this grab the saddle at the front and rear again and try pulling the front up and down, if the saddle moves then you’ll need to tighten the bolts holding the saddle to the seat post to keep it secure.

Step Three – The Chain & Pedals

Your chain should be clean and well-oiled on all of your rides. Keeping it oiled is important for making sure your bike runs smoothly. If your bike has been feeling a little clunky lately, get the chain oiled up and try loosening it up. Be careful not to overdo it with the oil however as this will pick up more dirt, making it harder to clean. Once your chain is good to go, spin your pedals and ensure they turn smoothly. Double check your cranks are on tight as well and don’t creak, and you’re good to move onto the next step.

Step Four – The Brakes

It goes without saying that brakes are one of the most important components of your bike and your safety on it. You should double check that your front and rear brakes are working properly before every ride as a bare minimum. If the brake lever pulls against the handlebar grip when you brake, then the brake cable will need adjusting. Do this by simply loosening the brake cable anchor bolt, pulling the cable tighter, then tightening the anchor bolt again. When the brake is applied, both sides of the mechanism should move. If this doesn’t happen, turn the small adjuster screw on the stationary side until both sides are moving again. Finally, check the front brake by applying the brake and pushing the bike forwards, then check the back brake by applying the brake and pulling the bike backwards. If all is well and braking as it should be, move onto step 5.

Step Five – The Headset

The headset is where the forks meet the frame of the bike and holds them securely in place while allowing them to rotate and steer. The headset has some bearings to ensure they allow the forks to rotate freely, these bearings are what need to be checked. To check whether the headset is rotating freely, lift the bike up by the frame so that the front wheel is off the ground and turn the handlebars left and right. They should rotate smoothly in both directions with no clicking. If you detect any issues with the headset then get your biked booked in for a service.

That’s our guide on the five checks you should perform on your bike before every ride! Please remember that these are just checks, if something doesn’t feel right or there’s anything you’re unsure about, then be sure to go and get your bike looked at with a service.

Hopefully this guide has given you the tools to keep your bike in top form all year round so you can jump on the saddle and GO Make the Most of it!