In this video, I outline the best practice for checking and adjusting your family’s bikes in preparation for the first ride of the year. I’d always encourage getting children involved in this process – sadly, ours were all at school when I had the chance to record this, otherwise, I’m sure they’d be wielding cloths and Allen keys alongside me.
Begin by giving your bike a thorough clean, paying particular attention to the drivetrain. Give your chain a good scrub and wipe, then use a clean cloth to wipe your brake pads or rotors. Carefully lube the chain, choosing wet or dry lube if you’re able to access those; if not, universal bicycle chain oil will do fine.
Now, onto the bike check. Beginning at the back, you’ll be following an ‘M’ shape to ensure you check every part of your machine.
Check the tyres for wear or signs of perishing. Are any tread ‘knobbles’ still intact? Check the recommended tyre pressure on the side wall and inflate accordingly.
1. Check spokes are uniformly taught and not rusting.
2. Check the rear axle or quick-release skewer is done up properly.
3. Inspect the brake pads or rotors. Is there enough brake pad left? Are the pads properly aligned to touch the correct part of the rim when the brakes are on?
4. Shift through the gears and check they’re changing smoothly.
5. Follow the ‘M’ shape to inspect the frame as it runs up to the seat post.
6. Check the seat and seat post are secure.
7. Continue checking the frame all the way down to the bottom bracket, then check the cranks and pedals don’t have any lateral ‘play’ in them. They should spin freely.
8. Continue following the ‘M’ shape to inspect the frame as it runs up to the stem.
9. At the front of the bike, squeeze the brakes to ensure they’re working.
10. Check the headset is done up properly – turn the front wheel 45 degrees then pull the front brake. Try and push the bike backwards and forwards. If it feels loose or you feel ‘play’, you need to tighten your headset. Pick up the bike and let the front wheel flop from side to side. It should swing freely – if it doesn’t, your headset is too tight.
11. Check the front wheel and tyre as outlined above and if all is good, you’re ready to ride.