at the front wheel.
Spin the wheel it should spin
straight. If the wheel wobbles when
it spins it may have a buckle and
need truing visit your bike
Check for missing or broken spokes
if any spokes are broken its
important to replace them as soon
as possible as one missing spoke will
make the others weaker.
Wiggle the wheel against its natural
axle and check for side to side wheel
movement. Listen to make sure you
cant hear any damaged bearings.
If the wheel moves side to side on
the axle the bearings will need to
be tightened. If there is noise coming
from the bearings they may need to
be cleaned or replaced. If you cannot
adjust the wheel yourself, take it
to your bike shop.
Check the rim: some rims will
have a wear line. If you cant
see this, your rim may need replacing.
Check that the rim surface is flat
and not concave. Check for hairline
cracks in the rim. Rims that are cracked
or worn away should be replaced.
Check that the tyres are pumped up
to the pressure specified on the side
(usually expressed in BAR or PSI)
and look for wear on the tread or
for any cracks in the tyre. Tyres
on which most of the tread has worn
away are more likely to get punctures
so it is worth replacing tyres every
couple of years (depending on your
mileage) to avoid flats.
Then look at your brakes
your brake blocks worn down? Are
the blocks lined up correctly?
Squeeze the brake levers: the
blocks should hit the rim squarely.
Make sure they do not touch the
tyres. Squeeze your brake levers
and push the bike forwards to
make sure the brakes are effective.
your stem and headset:
Stand over the front wheel holding
the brakes on and push backwards and
forwards (hold the top of the forks
as well if you have any front fork
suspension). If there is any movement
the bearing may be loose.
Hold the front wheel between your
knees and try turning the handlebars
if the bars move without the
wheel moving, your stem needs tightening:
this can usually be done with an allen
Check that your bar ends (plugs at
the ends of your handlebars) are in
place replace them if not.
Check your frame.
Look out for hairline cracks in the
frame, especially at the joins. You
should never ride a bike with a cracked
frame, no matter how small.
Check your bottom bracket: the part
of the frame around which the cranks
Jiggle the cranks from side
to side against their natural
axle: if there is any movement,
the bearings may be loose or
your cranks may need tightening
(usually either with a 14mm
socket spanner or an 8mm allen
Spin your pedals and check they are
in good condition.
Check that your saddle is at the right
height and is bolted tightly: remember,
your leg should be almost fully extended
at the bottom of a pedal stroke.
Check your back brakes and wheels
as with the front.
Check your gears:
While pedalling, click through the
whole range of gears (you may wish
to turn your bike upside or ask someone
to help you with this). If the gears
dont change smoothly, see our
section on gears. Check that the cogs
are not worn down.
Check that your chain is clean and
lubricated if you ride regularly,
you should aim to clean and oil it
once a week.
If you pay attention as you ride you
will be able to notice any changes
in your bike, for instance if the
gears no longer change smoothly or
if the handling feels a little odd.
Bike maintenance is best done little
Looking after your tyres
Pump your tyres up as hard as you
can with a hand pump, or if using
a track pump or car foot pump, pump
up to the recommended tyre pressure
listed on the tyre wall (units: psi
= pounds per square inch, Bar/ATM
Tyres will usually have one of two
valves: Presta or Schrader. Presta
valves are skinnier and often seen
on road bikes.
you pump up a tyre with a Presta
valve you will need to unscrew
the end, press it once to release
any stiffness, and remember
to re-tighten it after inflation.
Handle Presta valves with care,
as they are fragile. Schrader
valves are the same as car tyre
valves and commonly seen on
mountain bikes and bikes with
check tyres for glass shards or other
sharp things that have stuck in the
surface, and remove these before they
are able to work through to puncture
the inner tube. Clean the rims and
spokes, especially if you have ridden
on roads that have been gritted for
snow, as the salt will damage the
rims. Keeping the rims clean will
help you to brake efficiently and
lengthen the life of your brake pads.