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Keep your bike in ready-to-roll condition with this checklist.
Being aware of the condition of your bike’s moving parts will save you time and money, as neglected parts can be pricey to replace and potentially dangerous if overlooked (think large gash in the sidewall of your tire). Run through this five-point checklist before every ride.
1. Check tire pressure.
In addition to checking how much air is in your tires (it’s personal preference, but it’s best to not let tires get lower than 80–90 psi), you should also examine the shape and condition of the rubber and tread. If the tire looks squared off or if you see any cracks or gashes, it may be time for some new tires.
2. Test wheels and brakes.
Give your wheels a spin and make sure the rims don’t rub on the brake pads or frame. Also keep an eye on the rim to see if the wheel wobbles, which indicates that the wheel is out of true and the spoke tension needs adjusting. Make sure your brakes are working properly by grabbing them to stop the spinning wheel.
3. Lube the chain.
The single most important step to maintaining your drivetrain is to lube your chain every few rides. A dry chain will cause your chainrings and cassette cogs to wear out faster, which will result in poor shifting. (The squeal of a dry chain will also greatly annoy your riding buddies.)
4. Tighten stem and headset bolt.
There’s a simple test to determine if you need to tighten your headset: Stand over the top tube of your bike and grab the front brake. Rock your handlebars forward and back. If you feel any play, you’ll need to tighten your headset. A torque wrench is an excellent investment to make sure you’re tightening the bolts to specification.
5. Wipe down the frame.
Take pride in your two-wheeled steed and keep it clean. Give your bike a lovely shine with a product like Finish Line’s Showroom Polish and Protectant ($8 for 11-ounce aerosol can, Finishlineusa.com), which is safe to use on all surfaces of your bike.