1. A very basic safety check consists of holding the front wheel between your knees and trying to twist the handlebars from side to side. Then try to push the brake lever hoods towards the ground. This checks that your stem and handlebar bolts are all tight.
  2. Next, pull both brakes as tight as you can. It’s better than the cables snap whilst you are standing over a stationary bike than at 70kph on a descent! The levers should not be able to touch bar tape or grips. Ideally, there should be at least a 10mm gap.
  3. Check that both the front and rear skewers are tight.
  4. Try twisting the saddle and moving it up and down: there should be no movement whatsoever.
  5.  Check your tyres weekly for small pieces of glass or flint and remove. Then fill the small hole that’s left behind with puncture repair solution as this is flexible and will stay in place longer than superglue.
  6. Pump your tyres to between 100 and 120psi on a road bike. Tyre pressure recommendations are found on the sidewall of all tyres, so if you’re not sure then check it!
  7. If your tyres are worn replace them. Don’t try to squeeze the last bit out of them. You could puncture or you could fall.
  8. Oil your chain, but don’t overdo it. A few drops are all that is needed. Also, degrease and remove the old gunk before putting on fresh lube. Get proper bike lube, NOT 3 in 1, NOT WD40!
  9. Only turn the cable adjusting barrel at the rear of the derailleur. A quarter or half turn anti-clockwise is often all that’s needed to realign out of sync gears. Do not touch any cross head screws no matter what youtube tells you. If a bike is assembled properly the first day these rarely need to be touched again.
  10. Wash it – Even if it is just to feel good about yourself please do wash your bike. You wouldn’t go out wearing mucky cycling gear for weeks so why ride a mucky bike for weeks without washing it? There is also the knock-on benefit of a clean bike running smoother, lasting longer and saving money and frustration in the long run, plus if you ever need me to fix it, I’ll stay cleaner 😉

If you’re interested in going more in-depth on bike maintenance and being able to look after your own bike, I run private maintenance classes for groups or individuals (contact me for more details), and I also run bicycle maintenance courses for Limerick College of Further Education and The Crescent Comp, keep an eye on their websites for upcoming courses:

http://www.lcfe.ie/
https://www.crescentsj.com/adult-education/