If you're picking up your bike for the first time in a while to help you commute to your role as a key worker or just adding some variety to during your daily exercises then it pays to give your bike a quick once over to make sure it's in reasonable working order. Based on a an M-Check – it’s great system for quickly checking that your bike from front wheel to back to see if it’s ready to ride or if you need to fix something / drop it off with your local bike shop for expert help.
No-one likes working on a dirty bike, so get your cleaning kit out – a bucket, car shampoo, brush and warm water will do – and give everything a good, deep clean. This is also your chance to check that your forks and frame aren’t damaged – look out for cracks, dings and if you’re on a steel bike look out for nasty rusty spots that are more than surface blemishes.
Front wheel - check those tyres are holding some air – repair punctured inner tubes or top up your tubeless sealant. Look at the tread on the tyres and sidewalls while you’re here too – if anything is worn / torn then it’s time for a trip to the shop. Make sure your rims are running true and spokes aren’t loose. Spin the wheel and make sure it’s turning freely and make sure your QRs are closed properly or bolt-throughs are done up tightly.
Handlebars – stick your front wheel between your knees and give the bars a good shoogle – stem and bar bolts should be done up to spec and they should be nice centered over the front wheel too. Give your front and back brakes a try out and spin through the gears a few times to see how they’re running. Apply your front brake and rock the bike backwards and forwards a few times. If there’s any play then tighten your headset up. Make sure your handlebar grips stay in place and if your bar tape is looking tatty then time for a refresh. Always, always make sure you have plugged your handlebars too – an open ended handlebar can act like an apple corer and you don’t want to be near one of those in a crash...
Down to the cranks and run through from pedals inwards. Everything spinning freely and no nasty noises come from your bottom bracket? Excellent. Whilst you’re down there, check your chainrings for wear and give the chain a once over and check for stiff links too.
Saddle and seatpost – give that seat bolt binder a tighten and check that the saddle is at the right height, pointing forwards and level. If you ride in the wet, then it’s worth spinning any bolts out and applying a dab of grease, similarly slide the seat post out and give it a grease too (or something appropriate if carbon).
Back wheel – repeat the same checks as you did on the front wheel and take a gander at your rear sprockets for wear too.
Now that you’ve given things a good check over and fixed any nasties then you’re on the home straight.
Give your chain a light lube with your favoured lubricant and wipe off the excess.
Double check that your emergency kit is all there – mini-tool, tyre levers, spare tube in one piece? Tuck a fresh £5/€5/$5 in there too – you never know when you might need it.
Keep it clean - a clean machine is a happy one. Running through these checks regularly will keep you on the road / canal path / cycletrack longer.
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