Checking your bike

Got a new bike and ready to ride? Here are a few things you should check before you go!

Tyres 

  • If your bike hasn't been used for a while, it's quite likely the the tyres will be soft or flat. Try inflating them and seeing if they hold the air - make sure to check the maximum inflation pressure printed on the side of the tyre! 
  • When inflated correctly, they should feel very firm. 
  • If they aren't holding air, you'll need to repair or change the inner tube. 

 Here's how to Fix a Puncture

This tutorial will teach you how to remove the tyre, check for the source of a puncture, patch an inner tube and inflate the tyre on your bike.

 

Front wheel

  • Check that your quick release skewer is firmly closed, or that axle nuts are tightened fully.
  • 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 shop.
  • Check for missing or broken spokes – if any spokes are broken it’s important to replace them as soon as possible as one missing spoke will make the others weaker.
  • Wiggle the wheel against its axle and check for side to side wheel movement. If there is noise coming from the bearings they may need to be cleaned or replaced - unless you are confident, take it to your bike shop.
  • Check the rim - it should be 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, 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 regularly to avoid flats.

 

 Spin the wheel - it should spin straight

Brakes

  • Check that your brake blocks are not too worn - many brake pads have a line on them - when this disappears they need replacing.
  • Are the blocks lined up properly? Squeeze the brake levers: the blocks should hit the rim squarely, and must not touch the tyres. Hold your brake levers and push the bike forwards to make sure the brakes are working!

 

 Check your brake blocks are not worn down

Stem and headset

  • 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 key.
  • 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 bearings may be loose – visit your bike shop.

 

Frame, bottom bracket and saddle

  • Check your bottom bracket: the part of the frame around which the cranks revolve.
  • 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 key). If you are unsure, visit your bike shop.
  • 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.

 

  Look out for irregular movement in your cranks

 

MadeGood provide one of the best bicycle repair libraries on the web, and is totally free to access. You can also follow MadeGood on twitter - @MadeGoodBikes

Join London Cycling Campaign

As a membership charity we rely on funds raised through subscriptions from individuals who share our vision of making London the best cycling city in the world. If you share our vision and want to help create Space for Cycling please join LCC today.


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