Pre-ride checklist …


Before every ride, I check that my bike is in good working order. I may not do this for the morning commute but before every, longer weekend ride. It doesn’t take long (10-15 minutes at most) and reduces the possibility of a failure when I’m out on the road.

This is what I do –

  1. I generally wash the bike immediately after a ride, and clean the chain with a biodegradable degreaser before hanging it to dry. Before the next ride, I start by lifting the bike down, placing it on the repair stand, and quickly wiping it down with a damp cloth to remove any dust or dirt. This is not necessary but I want it to look its best.
  2. I carefully put a drop of light chain oil on each and every chain link, one drop at a time where the chain is stretched over the idler pulley, and then run through all of the gears on both of the chainrings making certain the gear changes are crisp, positive, and precise. If not, I adjust the derailleur cable tension using the barrel adjuster. And then I wipe excess oil from the chain back pedalling the right crank with my right hand with a clean cloth wrapped around the chain in my left.
  3. I lightly spray WD40 on the moving parts of both the front and rear derailleurs, and brakes, careful to wipe off any excess oil.
  4. I carefully check both the front and rear tires looking for imbedded stones, glass or other objects that may work its way through the tire, and potentially puncture the inner tube.
  5. I wipe the wheel rims and brake pads with a damp cloth removing any dirt or grease.
  6. I tighten the stem and handlebar bolts using a 5Nm torque wrench. They can loosen, and I don’t want them to fail, particularly on a long, fast descent.
  7. I check tire pressure. In fact, I deflate each of the tires a little and then pump it up to the desired pressure. In my case that is usually 100 psi in the back and 85 psi in the front. In the wet weather, I dial this back ~ 10% to provide better grip.
  8. I loosen and retighten the quick releases front and back making certain the wheel is properly seated, and centred.
  9. I make certain the tire diameter is set correctly on my cycle computer. I use it on each of the bikes and need to reset the diameter whenever I switch bikes.
  10. And, lastly I check there is a spare tube, tire irons, a CO2 cartridge, and a multi-tool in my saddle pack. After last weekend’s flat-tire-episode, I’m going to also carry a patch kit, and an additional CO2 cartridge just in case of a second flat.

Now I’m ready to suit up, fill my water bottles, and hit the road.

This may seem excessive to some of you. Perhaps it is, but this is how I look at it. I cycle a long way from home on quiet, rural roads whenever possible. The last thing I want is a breakdown. They happen sometimes, but to a large degree, they are preventable. I also replace chains, break pads, and cables before they probably need to be changed out. Again, I don’t want any of them to fail at 60 kph.

Call me excessive, if you like 🙂


16 thoughts on “Pre-ride checklist …

  1. Great pre ride check list,and something I always do after every ride on my MTB.
    The only small thing I disagree with is the use of 3in1 oil.
    In my experience it attracts dirt and grime like a magnet,which ain’t wanted.
    My method is to clean my chain first ,then give it a liberal coating of carb cleaner to remove any dirt and salt,then dry off with a cloth,and finally apply a very light spray off WD40 or similar,then wipe clean again..Occasionally I even go to the extremes of cleaning every link with a stiff toothbrush,OCD or what?
    Not saying I’m right ,each to their own.

  2. Great pre ride check list.
    The only thing I never do is use 3in1 oil anywhere on my MTB.
    In my experience it acts like a magnet for dirt and grime.
    My method is to first clean the chain and derrailliuers using soapy water,dry off,then spray with carb cleaner or similar,dry off again,then finish with a light spray of WD40 or similar.
    Occasionally I even go the extreme of cleaning every chain link with a stiff toothbrush,ocd or what?
    It’s just my way of doing things,but each to their own.😃

    • Thanks Gail. I like to be prepared and I have found that I enjoy the ride more if the bike is in good working order – shifts are positive, brakes are positive, and no rattles. It’s excessive for some but I would have it no other way. No now. There was a time when I wasn’t as fastidious. It took me awhile to learn.

  3. I’m at the other side. Very bad at checking things, mucky bike a lot but seldom have failures, maybe I’ve become tuned to listening for things? But I’ve found my chain saviour (I am quite good at checking & changing it regularly though). I’ve written about this before. I’ve started using Stuff called ‘Squirt’ on my chain, sheds off muck, no oil or grease – just wonderful for me. Haven’t needed to clean the chain or cassette, just a wipe or a brush.

  4. I wish I was as organized and took as good care of my bikes as you do. I hardly ever clean them and I usually only remember to oil the chain when I can hear it. This must make you cringe. I will try to follow your example and get better at it. I know my bikes will appreciate it. Thank you for this list.

  5. 11. Make sure I have the wherewithal on me to buy a coffee/coke/beer and sandwich/chocolate bar/cake (delete according to preference) 🙂

    • That goes without saying 🙂

      I always have either a mid-ride or an end-of-ride coffee and scone. In recent months, I leave the office mid-day, cycle for 2 hours, and then stop at one of my favourite cafes for a late lunch – coffee, wrap and salad. My post workout replenishment.

      It’s interesting how coffee and cycling go together.

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