A quick check of your bike before riding can help prevent those long walks home. It only takes about two minutes. Make it a habit and your chances of a breakdown are greatly reduced.
- Check the quick release levers -- Make sure that your quick-release levers on your wheels are installed correctly and are properly tight. A runaway wheel is a nasty surprise.
- Bounce the Bike -- Pick up your bike 4 or 5 inches off the ground and bounce it once or twice. Listen for unusual rattles, they can indicate loose parts about to fall off.
- Check the Brakes -- Check the front and rear brakes separately. Give the levers a good squeeze to make sure they are tight and the cable is securely fastened.
- Spin the Wheels -- Lift the front of the bike of the ground an inch or so and spin the front wheel. I should spin freely with no brake rub and should be relatively true. Listen for grinding sounds in the hub that indicate the need for maintenance. Do the same for the rear wheel.
- Check the Cranks -- Make sure that the crank bolts are tight and the chainrings are true and are not missing any teeth.
- Check the Headset -- Hold the front brake down and gently rock the bicycle forward and back. Loose or worn bearing will make a distinct click. Tighten or service if necessary.
- Check the Tires -- Make sure your tires have the correct amount of air pressure and examine them for rips, tears or sharp objects stuck into the tread. Check brake and derailleur cables for fraying.
- Check the Handlebars -- Make the handlebars and stem are securely fastened. Visually examine the handlebars for bends or cracks. If you find any, replace it before riding.
- Check the chain to be sure it is properly lubed.