Please support our National Cycle Network maintenance appeal. Donate now

The M check for your bike in 11 steps

checking your bike

Ensuring that the tires are fully pumped will make your riding a lot easier

Young child trying to fix his bike

Teach your child valuable skills from a young age

A couple fixing a bike on the grass

If you get stuck ask your friend for help

Like any machine, a bicycle will work better and last longer if you care for it properly. Get in the habit of checking your bike regularly – simple checks and maintenance can help you enjoy hassle-free riding and avoid repairs. These easy tips are a great way to get started

The “M check” is a simple way to make sure your bike is safe to ride.

What you’ll need:

  • bike pump
  • set of allen keys

Check your bike in 11 steps

1. Rear wheel

It should be tightly fitted and the quick release lever is secure in the closed position. Not all wheels will have quick release levers. If the wheel is not quick release, check that the nuts on both sides of the wheel are secure.

2. Spokes

Should be of equal tension and not loose. Pluck each spoke with your finger. The sound from each spoke should be very similar.

3. Air in tyres

If the tyre is soft, then attach your pump to the valve and pump up. Note: There are two types of valve fitting – Presta (long and thin), and Schrader (thicker and slightly shorter). Recommended tyre pressure is usually written somewhere on the tyre.

4. Saddle

Check your seat post isn’t loose and that you haven’t exceeded the limit marked on the seat post. Once you have checked these, use an allen key to tighten the seat post clamp. Check the seat is secure by giving it another check once you have finished.

5. Chain

Should be clean and oiled. Keeping your chain clean and oiled is important for the smooth running of your bike. Note: Don’t use too much oil as this will pick up more dirt and make the chain more difficult to clean.

6. Pedals

Make sure they spin smoothly and that your cranks are on tight, spin smoothly, and don’t creak. 

7. Stem

Check that your front wheel and stem do not move independently, and that your handlebar clamp bolts are tight. Perform this check by standing in front of the bike, holding the front wheel between your knees, and twisting the handlebars. You can prevent any movement by tightening the stem bolts and the handlebar clamp with an allen key.

8. Headset

Check if there is any rocking or clicking in the headset. Perform this check by firmly grasping the head tube with one hand and applying the front brake with the other hand. This will steady the front of the bike so that you can shake the headset to establish any rocking or clicking in the bearings.

9. Brakes

ensure that the front and rear brakes are working properly. If the brake lever pulls against the handlebar grip, the brake cable needs adjusting. This is done by loosening the brake cable anchor bolt, pulling the cable tighter, and tightening the anchor bolt again. Both sides of the brake mechanism should move when the brake is applied. If this is not happening, turn the small adjustor screw on the stationary side until both sides are moving again.

Most brakes have these adjustor screws. The brake block must pull flat to the wheel rim. If this is not the case, use an allen key to tighten the block in the correct position. This is done whilst applying the brake. Finally, check the front brake by applying the brake and pushing the bike forwards, and check the back brake by applying the brake and pulling the bike backwards.

10. Frame

Look for any cracks or damage. Focus this check on the area where the frame joins the head tube.

11. Front wheel

It should be tightly fitted and the quick release lever is secure in the closed position. Not all wheels will have quick release levers. If the wheel is not quick release, check that the nuts on both sides of the wheel are secure.

Read about the health benefits of cycling

Explore art trail routes on the National Cycle Network

Categories:

Location: