Pre Ride Checklist for Trouble-Free Biking
Avoid problems and potential accidents on the trail with regular pre-ride bike maintenance checks, which take minutes but could save hours.
Regular bike riders are used to performing basic checks before a ride but even the novice can prepare for a day in the saddle by following this simple checklist to spot any potential problems before they arise.
Pre-Ride Bicycle Safety Checks
- Check the chain: it should be clean and running smoothly. Oil the chain if necessary, especially if showing signs of rust, using the right lubricant; use dry lube for hot dusty environments, wet lube otherwise.
- Brakes Check – the most important part of mountain bike maintenance. Check brake pads and replace if worn. Make a note of the date if pads are changed. Test the brakes by riding around the block and tighten the brake cables if they do not engage until the brake levers are pulled back beyond a third of their full range.
- Check the tires. Do a visual inspection to ensure there are no tears in the tire wall then check the tire pressure; if pressure is low pump up the tire and wait a few minutes to check for any punctures. Change the tube if necessary.
- Wheels. Spin the wheels both front and back. Watch for any wobble which could indicate a loose or broken spoke. If the spokes are fine and the wheel still wobbles, do not ride as a bike service is required. Finally check the quick release levers on the wheel hubs; make sure they are firmly secured so that the wheel does not come loose on the trail.
- Check the gears by riding around the block to check they are changing correctly. If the gear cable has stretched, preventing the rider from changing to easier climbing gear, tighten the cable by turning the tightening bolt anti-clockwise. If this does not solve the problem, the bike needs a service.
- Pedals. If riding with clipless pedals, check they are free of dirt and that they are running freely. Lubricate if necessary.
- Controls check. Stand over the saddle, pull on the brakes and rock the bike back and forth. Check that nothing feels loose especially on the stem, the horizontal bar linking the frame to the handlebars. Make a quick visual check to spot any frayed cables or other damages. Ensure the saddle is secure.
Basic Mountain Bike Tools
Before setting off, check that the basic bike tools for the ride are stored in a rucksack. The bare essentials for any bike ride should include a pump, spare tubes, a puncture repair kit, a mini tool or small set of Allen keys, some tape, and a couple of zip ties, the latter being handy for a multitude of emergency repairs.
In addition, if planning an all-day ride, remember to carry sufficient food and water to get through the day plus some spare (waterproof) clothing in case of bad weather.
Bicycle Maintenance Check
This simple bicycle maintenance checklist will eliminate most problems before they occur. Nevertheless, ensure the correct bike tools are stored in a rucksack for longer rides in case of the need for unforeseen trailside repairs.