Having confidence in your bike is always important, whether you’re commuting to work or competing in events. It’s especially vital to give your bike a thorough check before embarking on a longer ride or event, as these can put more stress on your bike, your mind and your body.
The last thing you need is to be worrying about an old rusty chain, brakes not performing properly, or the wear and tear or performance of a tyre. Staying safe and being able to fully focus on the ride – and your riding – is key, and this can all be achieved with a little bike preparation beforehand.
In this post, we identify five simple things that you should be aware of when it comes to keeping your bike in good shape. From the cables to the tyres, ensure your ride is safe and event-ready. See our list of go-to maintenance tips below and ensure your next big ride is worry and stress-free.
Five easy tips
As well as checking for general wear, tyres should be checked for any large cuts (bigger than 2mm), or pieces of glass and flint that might be embedded in them. Also make sure that your tyres are appropriate for the kind of roads and weather that you might encounter, so avoid lightweight race tyres if the roads (or the weather) are expected to be dodgy.
#2 Brake pads
Check that there is plenty of pad material left. As a rough guide, most brake pads have grooves cut into the surface, and these should be at least 2-3mm deep. Bear in mind that bad weather and hilly terrain (involving lots of descending) will wear pads more quickly.
Make sure that inner cables, both brake and gear, are not corroded, frayed or kinked. Brakes should feel smooth when you apply them, with levers returning fully when released. Check also that cable outer casings are not split or damaged.
Keep your chain clean and lightly lubricated, using a specialist bicycle chain oil. After oiling, remove as much lube as possible with a clean cloth. Lubricating sparingly but frequently is the best approach. There’s also no need to apply oil to anything but the chain itself.
Extra tip: think about buying a chain checking tool, as changing your chain before it gets too worn can prevent unnecessary wear to the rest of the drivetrain.
If the rubber grippers on your cleats are worn out, then it’s time to change them. Also check the condition of your helmet; most manufacturers advise changing your helmet every two years, and if it has received an impact of any kind then definitely bin it and buy a new one.
For more advice on checking your bike over, watch the video with mechanic Matt Evans below.