It is important to keep your bike clean and get it regularly serviced if you don’t look after your bike it is likely you will get problems with it more frequently. Your local bike shop will normally be staffed by experienced riders and mechanics and will offer different levels of servicing depending on what you need, they are there to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions it is a great way to learn more about cycling and your bike.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU SERVICE YOUR BIKE?
If you tend to use your bike only through summer and train for an annual event then at a minimum get your bike serviced professionally once a year, we would recommend doing this at the beginning of your main training period. If you ride all year round, commute or often ride in poor conditions this will cause faster wear on your bike so you should get it serviced more regularly. Of course, if you are having any mechanical issues with your bike then get it serviced again and don’t ignore any problems.
THE ‘M’ CHECK
There are some basic bike checks that you can and should do yourself before riding, this is commonly called the ‘M Check’. Follow the ‘M’ shape shown below as a reminder of all the items to check – we’ve detailed some points to run through in 9 steps.
REAR WHEEL – check wheel is sitting centrally in the frame and the locking device (often called a ‘quick release’) are securely closed. Spin the wheel and check it rotates freely without the brakes touching the rim of the wheel. If one side of the brake is rubbing, then the brake will need adjusting.
SADDLE – Correct saddle height is important, over time the saddle may get knocked or moved so make sure it is secure and at the correct height. The saddle should be level, the nose should not be pointing up or down.
DRIVE CHAIN – (the ‘drivetrain’ consists of the chain, rear cassette, chainrings and derailleurs) to keep the gears working efficiently the chain should be regularly cleaned and oiled, regular cleaning should mean you need to get your bike serviced less often. If your gears aren’t changing smoothly and jumping or slipping gears, then it is time to get your bike serviced.
PEDALS – may look simple but they still need to spin freely. If you’re using clipless pedals, also make sure they are clean and free of debris so as not to impede your ability to clip in and out. Check the cleats on your shoes as well as they wear out and will clip in less securely over time.
FRAME – issues with frames are rare however it shouldn’t be overlooked in your check. This is more important if you’ve had an accident or there has been an impact to your frame. Check for any damage or cracks, any damage may cause a serious failure when riding if it breaks further.
STEERING – (this includes stem, handlebars, headset and front forks) handlebar and control position should be correct for your riding position. The stem should be in line with your front wheel and clamp bolts tightened correctly, to prevent the stem or handlebars twisting or moving. Hold the front wheel between your legs facing the bike while turning the handlebars is a quick way to check nothing has loosened and the handlebars are secure enough to ride, the front wheel and the stem should not move independently.
BRAKES – you should be able to operate your brakes easily they shouldn’t be hard to squeeze. The brake pads (the part of your brake that touches the wheel rim) should contact the rim with equal pressure on both sides of the wheel, if one side contacts before the other then the brakes will need adjusting so they both touch at the same time. Brake pads do wear down over time if you are having to pull excessively on your brake levers the brake pads may need replacing.
FRONT WHEEL – like the rear wheel, check wheel is sitting centrally in the fork and the locking device or quick release is securely closed. Spin the wheel and check it rotates freely without the brakes touching the rim of the wheel. If one side of the brake is rubbing, then the brake will need adjusting.
TYRE PRESSURE – Having your tyres inflated to the right pressure will help roll more easily, and can help avoid punctures. Your tyre pressure can differ from the size of tyre you have; all tyres will list the maximum pressure on the outer edge of the tyre. Often on road bike tyres, maximum pressure can be up to 120psi, however, we recommend on average keeping the pressure at around 100psi. For hybrid/commuter or mountain bikes the pressure will be less – check your tyres for the correct pressure. Check your tyre pressure at least once a week or before riding. Ideally with a pump that has a PSI indicator.
A set of Allen keys, for checking and tightening bolts. Prices start from around £7.
A track pump has a PSI meter on it so you will know how high the pressure is in your tyres. Prices start at around £20