There’s nothing worse than a crash or breaking expensive parts due to a minor oversight or lack of maintenance.
Before hitting the single track, get in the habit of performing a basic safety check of your bike. It may sound dramatic, but a simple once-over at the trailhead can make the difference between a great ride and tragedy. If you spot an issue during the pre-ride check, it’s far easier to address in the parking lot than on the side of the trail. And if it’s something you’re unable to address, there’s the potential for assistance from other riders at the parking lot.
Here’s our simplified checklist of last minute basics of items to inspect. Note that this should not take the place of a post-ride checkover, cleaning or maintaining your bike, but a bit of quick insurance to make sure every ride is as good as it can be.
Have something you think we missed? Suggestions? feel free to leave a comment below.
Here’s our basic pre-ride checklist:
- Air: tire pressure & suspension
Check the headset for play by locking the front brake and rocking the bike forward and back. Lift the front wheel (then the rear wheel) and drop it, while listening for any movement or noises that could be attributed to something loose. The bars should rotate smoothly without any grinding or binding.
Wheels & Rotors
Next, lift the bike up and spin the front wheel to inspect the rim and the rotor to ensure they’re running true. The brake rotor should not contact the brake pads or caliper.
Grip your front and rear wheel and pull them side to side to inspect your hubs for lateral movement. Repeat this with your crank arms. There should be no side to side play whatsoever.
If you haven’t had your bike maintained recently, you may also want to inspect your spokes to ensure they’re all tensioned. Watch for loose spokes, which will require service.
We always travel with a floor pump in the vehicle that includes an accurate gauge. Before riding, check your tire pressure and if need be, top off your tires to your usual riding pressure. Depending on the tire type, size and volume, rider weight and riding style, tire pressure for a typical mountain bike is in the range of 20-35 PSI.
Check your bolts: Torque check
Inspect the bolts on the bike to make sure they’re in place and secure. Suspension pivots have been known to back out over time. Make sure your bars are secure; if you have bolt-on grips, make sure they can’t rotate. If you haven’t already, check on the wheel quick releases or axles to make sure your wheels are secure.
Suspension check: Pre-load and rebound
Sitting on your bike, is your suspension set with the correct amount of pre-load? Do a quick lap of the parking lot to make sure everything feels normal.
Brakes & Shifting
During your initial parking lot test ride, make sure to shift through the gears to make sure your shifting is indexed properly. Test your brakes to ensure everything is functioning optimally.
And finally, make sure you’ve packed the essentials for the ride – water, tools, tube, layers, eye protection, and the rest of your regular ride carry – and have a good ride.