Before starting your ride, give your bicycle a quick once-over with this checklist.
Basic Bicycle Maintenance Checklist
Bolts and Quick Release Levers
Check that all bolts and/or quick release levers on the seat, seat post, handlebar stem and axles are tight.
Heatset and Brakes
Check that your headset turns freely, doesn’t rattle, and that the cables are not tangled (as in headset turned 360 degrees).
Check that the nuts on the brakes are tight. Brake pads should not touch the rims unless you are squeezing the brakes. Brake levers should stop at least 2.5 centimetres (about an inch) from the handlebars when the brakes are fully applied.
Coaster Brake: Check that the bolt holding the brake arm to the frame clip is tight.
Axles, Spokes, Tires, and Wheels
Check bearings for looseness by shaking the wheel side to side. Make sure quick release levers are clamped tight.
Check for and replace loose, bent or broken spokes.
Inflate to the recommended tire pressure as shown on the tire.
Make sure wheels are centred in the forks and not touching the brake blocks. Check the rim for side-to-side wobbles and up and down hops by watching the wheel spin past the brakes or frame. More than half a centimetre of wobble is cause for concern.
Gear shifters should move easily only when shifting. A screw or butterfly nut or similar device lets you adjust the movement of some types of shifter levers. On derailleur bikes, try shifting through all your gears and make sure your derailleur does not throw the chain off the sprockets.