Basic Bicycle Maintenance
Get in the habit of completing a basic check of your bike before heading out on the road.
Inspect tires for correct pressure, cuts, and wear
- Use a pressure gauge to insure proper pressure, inflating to the rate pressure as listed on the sidewall of the tire. If the pressure is too low, the tire could cause a flat; if the pressure is too high, it could blow the tire.
- Replace the tire if it is damaged.
- Carry extra tire sealant or buy tires that have sealant in them. If the tire is punctured, the sealant will fill and close the hole.
Check your brake pads for wear and make sure they are working properly.
- Most new bikes have ridged brake pads; replace the pads if the ridges are entirely worn down.
- Check your brake pad adjustments, they should hit the rim, not rub against the tire or dive into the spokes.
- Check your hand brakes, they should travel at least 1 inch between the bar and lever when applied.
Cranks, chain and gears
- Your crank bolts should be tight.
- Check your chain for signs of wear.
- Grease your chain. With your bike upside down, take hold of your chain with a cloth. Pedal and run the cloth lightly over the chain to remove dirt. Then keep pedaling and apply a thin layer of chain grease. Excess grease will attract more dirt. If your chain skips, you might need an adjustment.
- Shift through the gears: if your bike won't stay in gear or can't shift, get it checked out.
- Your hubs should be tight in the frame and the quick release should engage at 90 degrees. Your hub quick release should point back to ensure that nothing catches on it.
- Inspect your brake quick releases to ensure that they have been re-engaged if you have removed your wheel.
Handlebars, lights, bells
- Inspect handlebar for looseness or damage.
- Make sure headlights and bells work.
- Inspect your bike for any loose or broken parts, replace or fix them. Pick up your bike and shake it, listening for anything that sounds loose.
Roadtest the bike to make sure the brakes and gears are working properly.
Read our Bicycle Maintenance article for additional monthly and annual maintenance tips and visit the League of American Bicyclists' Bike Maintenance page.