Want To Step Up Your Bike Check? You Need To Read This First

     Go through this routine occasionally to check your bike is safe and likely or not to let you down any time in the near future

     The first four steps in this test routine cover the brakes. I including disc brakes. If you find any defects here, do not use your bike until you have put things right. Otherwise you will he a danger to yourself and other road users.

     Next comes some checks on the structure of the bike. particularly the stem and handlebars. plus the suspension forks if fitted. If you spot any cracks. pinholes or other serious defects. It would be foolhardy to tide your bike until they are dealt with. You are most likely to spot a crack in the handlebars close to the clamp, while pinholes are most likely to occur in the welds.

     As for the steering, it will be obvious if the stem and handlebar are out of line with the front wheel, but not so easy to tell if the headset is loose or worm. And you must take care to tell the difference between wear in the suspension forks and a loose headset.

     However. if you hear or feel a jolt when you lunge the bike forward and then apply the front brake. the headset almost certainly needs adjusting. But if there is only a little slack. You might find it easier to detect if you wedge your linger between the frame and the fork. Adjust or replace as soon as possible because a loose headset wears out fast.

     The chainset comes next. If you can detect movement on just one. crank. do not ride the bike until you have tightened it up. If you do use it. you can easily wreck the loose crank. But it is OK to ride short distances when the cranks feel tight or gritty when you turn them. or with a loose bottom bracket. a bent chainring or bent cranks, but these problems will certainly slow you down.

     Gear cables tend to hay in similar places to brake cables. But they also {my under the bottom bracket on road bikes. However, badly adjusted rear gear mechanisms are the main cause of unreliability on nearly all hikes. So check that there is a quick reliable change between all gears. If the chain jumps oil at any point. you will have to adjust the rear mech from scratch. Check the indexing as well - changes should be crisp and instantaneous.

     Finally. check that the bolts on the saddle clip. the seat post clamp and the handlebar stem are all tight. Avoid overtightening because it is only too easy to damage alloy components. Ideally, do your 10-minute check before the Quick lube routine but after the Big clean-up on earlier pages. That way you will be working on a clean but not only bike. However, leave time to lube the bike thoroughly when you have finished the checks.

Step 1

If the brakes are adjusted properly. you will only ham- to pull the lever half-way for them to be fully on. Although the 'sponge' in the system will probably allow you to pull it closer, using more force.

Step 2

Look at the brake pads next. There should be plenty of rubber left and at Fast I mm between the pad and the top edge of the rim. Curved pads should follow the curve of the rim.

Step 3

Check the brake cables for fraying near the cable adjusters and where they exit from the outer cable. if it takes a lot of pressure to apply the brakes, fit new inner cables and possibly new outers.

Step 4

If mechanical disc brakes are fitted, check the cable as in Step 3. On hydraulic discs, look for leaks and check the fluid level on open systems. On both types, check the calipers are still finely bolted to the frame or fork.

Step 5

Where suspension forks are fitted. chock for cracks in the brake arch. Wipe the chrome upper fork tubes and spray with the specified aerosol Iube. Then apply the front brake and see if there is any slack in the forks. If so, fit new bushes.

Step 6

Inspect the handlebars and stem for cracks. If you can feel any movement between the forks and the frame, adjust the headset soon. Then go round checking that the bolts on the stem, handlebars and handlebar brace are all tight.

Step 7

Hold one of the cranks still and try to move the other one. Then swap round. If you feel any movement on one of them, the crank bolts need tightening. If the cranks move equally both sides, your sealed bottom bracket needs replacing.

Step 8

Lift the chain off so you can turn the cranks easily. If necessary; take out the back wheel to give you enough slack. Then spin the cranks to check that the bottom bracket turns smoothly and with very little friction or noise

Step 9

While you turn the cranks, look down from above to see if the chainrings and cranks are both straight. Then check that all the chainring bolts are tight. Finally, make sure the pedals revolve freely, without any cracking noises.

Step 10

On rear mechs, inspect the cable for fraying and turn the jockey wheels to check they are not seizing up or worn. Shift from top gear to bottom and back a few times to check the gear change is swift, accurate and quiet.

Step 11

Inspect the front meat cable for fraying and make sure the chain cage is parallel to the chain. Then check that there is no more than a 1 to 3 mm gap between chain cage and large chainring. The change should be quick and reliable.

Step 12

Check that the riding position is comfortable and that your leg is almost fully extended when pedalling. Then check the seat clip bolt or bolts but take care not to over tighten them because the alloy threads are easily damaged.

Step 13


Try to twist the saddle from side to side. If it moves, tighten cattle scat post clamp bolt. Then check that the handlebar stem is in line with the front wheel. If need be. tighten the stem clamp bolts so it does not move again.

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