Bicycle Maintenance

Routinely checking your beloved bicycle shouldn’t take long.  Some of the most basic checks can even be done while walking from the garage to the front gate.  Just a couple of minutes is all it takes to check tire pressure, handle bar and stem alignment, brakes and to make sure the wheel skewers are nice and tight.

If you discover one or more of your bicycle parts is damaged or requires repair, ensure the repair has been completed by a qualified bicycle mechanic and is safe to use before you continue riding.

The Daily Checks

  • Tires should feel very firm to the touch.  The correct pressure is written on the sidewall of each tire.
  • Check that the seat is at the correct height and the seat post is tightly inserted into the frame.
  • Brakes should be secure.  Brake levers should engage when gripped.
  • Gears and brakes operate smoothly and directly.
  • Handlebars should be tight.
  • Lift the handlebars, spin the front wheel, apply the brakes and check that the:
    • Wheel is properly secured in the forks.
    • Quick release levers are secure.
    • Wheel rotates freely without rubbing on the brakes.
    • Gears and brakes operate smoothly and directly.

The Weekly Checks

  • Brakes should contact the rim squarely.  Levers should not touch the handlebar when squeezed hard.  Cables should not be frayed or damaged.
  • Check wheel axle nuts are tight.
  • Clean and lubricate the chain.
  • Steering bearings – apply the front brake and rock the bike back and forward.  If loose, there will be a ‘knocking’ sound.
  • Check that fittings such as racks, front and rear lights, wheel reflectors and kick stands are firmly secured.
  • Clean mud from lights and reflectors, including pedal reflectors.  Check that front and rear reflectors are aligned vertically

The Monthly Checks

  • Check the tires for wear or splits in the rubber.
  • Check wheel bearings, chain, gear cluster, chain rings and head stem (handlebars).
  • Check that pedals are intact and spin freely.
  • Check that derailleur gears are not bent and that they do not travel too far and jam the chain.
  • Check wheels for rust, buckles, bulges, rims with dents, and broken spokes. Check for loose hub bearings by wiggling wheel sideways.
  • Make sure your bell is in good working order.
  • Check that front and rear lights are bright when operating.
  • Wipe down your bike with a damp rag.

The Yearly Checks

  • Check the frame and components for hairline cracks and excessive wear.  If you find a crack, contact a professional bike mechanic immediately.
  • Remove handlebar tape to check for rust and weakness.
  • When purchasing new tires, make sure they are the right size.
  • When replacing the chain, also change the freewheel/cassette as both generally wear out evenly.
  • Cables can becomes stretched over time so it might be a good idea to change all gear and brake cables.  For those cyclists running hydraulic brakes, get your brakes bled and replace the fluid.
  • Replace brake pads
  • Check seals on suspension forks – get an expert opinion on whether the seals need replacing.  A tell tale sign is excessive oil leaking out of the seals.