If you are anything like me, I had no clue about basic bike maintenance when I first started riding. Here are some things you should check before you ride to keep your bike running smoothly and safely.
1. Check your tire pressure before every ride. If you are an avid rider you may be able to do this by feel, for the rest of us it is good to use a tire gauge. Tire pressure is often a personal choice based on terrain and riding style. Keep in mind that if your tire pressure is too low you are susceptible to flats and wear on the rims. But if the tire is too inflated you may loose traction and comfort on the trail.
2. Check the overall condition of your tires. Ensure they have adequate tread and that the sidewalls have no cracks or punctures.
3. Next make sure that your tires are attached securely to the bike. Give them a spin to see if they are straight and spinning without resistance.
4. Move to your spokes, gently squeeze them together, going around the entire wheel to ensure that none feel loose or broken.
5. Now take a look at your breaks and give them both a squeeze to see if they compress smoothly. Spin your back and front wheels and squeeze the corresponding break, the wheels should stop quickly.
6. After that, shift through all your gears. They should shift easily and smoothly.
7. Examine all the cables on your bike for damage or fraying.
8. To prolong the life of your chain and drive train check that your chain is properly lubricated before you ride. You will also want to check for stiff links in the chain.
9. For full suspension bikes make sure there is no extra play in your rear linkage. Check this by trying to wiggle the rear linkage side to side. Also, take the time to ensure that the bolts holding your rear linkage are tight.
10. Check your rear and front sock pressure using a shock pump. Shock pressure should be based on your weight. If you don’t know what your ideal shock pressures should be, check online or visit your local bike shop.
11. Spend some time making sure that the bolts on your handle bar, stem, cranks and seat are properly tightened.
12. Get out riding!