Here is my guide to quick test and check your bike is roadworthy, by following these these checks you will know if any further maintenance is required.
How to check your brakes
With anything safety is first so let’s start with what matters most, the brakes. Pull the brake lever they should be fully ‘on’, be the time the lever has been pulled halfway, anymore than this and they could be dangerous and require maintenance.
Checking your brake pads
The brake pads are next. You should check these are in good condition and not worn down. Badly worn pads not only reduces stopping power, but can also damage the rim. Ensure the pads meet the rim correctly when pulled and that they are not rubbing on the tyre.
Check the cabling
Brake cables generally can fray near the cable adjusters or where they come clear of the outer cable. If the cables are damaged in this way they can cause friction within the tubing and reduce the efficiency of the brakes dramatically.
Handlebars and Stem Checkup
So after the safety of the brakes comes the steering of the bike. Check the handlebars and stem for any cracks. Check the handle bars are level and the steering is in line with the front wheel. It’s easy to test the headset, this can be done by holding the front brake and rocking the bike back and forth, if a knocking is felt this can indicate whether the headset is loose or not. If you feel some movement and knocking you can fix it by just adjusting and tightening the headset. If this does not solve the problem remove check the bearings and cups for wear and tear.
Seatpost and Saddle
Check the saddle for movement ensure that the saddle is seated correctly in the bracket rails and that it is at the desired angle. I also like to check the bolts, they should be nice and tight, but do not over tighten as you could damage the threads on the bolts.
Next onto the crank, firstly check for movement. With one hand hold the pedal arm and the other the crank arm, now try and move them side ways if there is movement equally on each side this can indicate a loose bottom bracket. If the movement is on one side only then this can indicate a loose crank bolt. To check the crank is running smooth lift the chain off the chain ring, if needed take out the back wheel to give you enough slack in the chain. Now rotate the crank, it should run smoothly if it feels loose gritty or hollow it may need greasing. If it is hard to rotate the cups may have been over tightened.
Another part of the crankset to check is the chainring bolts. Ensure these are all present and tight, the bolts that retain the chainring to the crank generally require an Allen key (as above), however in more modern cranks star bolts can also used. It’s also useful to check the chainring, making sure it is true and not buckled. You can do this by looking down from above whilst rotating the crank to check the alignment. Whilst at this area it’s worthwhile to check the pedals for free movement and no wobbling or noises.
Check the front mech while you are at the crank area, first inspect the cabling for fraying especially at the securing nut. You should have a 6mm gap from the top of the chainring to the cage of the front mech. Inspect the spring to make sure this is not corroded or seized.
On to the rear mech or the rear derailleur, same again as the front mech check the cabling for fraying. Check that all the gearing range can be selected, shift from front to bottom a few times. The other part of the mechanism to check are the socket wheels, inspect that these are running freely and that they are not worn down.
Wheels and Tyres
Spin the wheels check they are running true, freely and smooth, use the brake pads as a guide to check. Crackling noises from the hub generally indicate bearing problems in the hub. Check the side of the rim for wear from braking, worn rims have been known to collapse. If the wheel is rubbing ensure the wheel is correctly sited in the hub, it may resolve the problem by simply aligning the wheel correctly.
Check spokes are tight and not snapped or damaged. If you find a snapped spoke unscrew and remove it. This can cause further damage to other parts. Replacement spokes can be purchased at your local bicycle store or online. Spokes should be replaced as soon as possible.
Check tyres for any foreign bodies glass, tacks nails etc. Ensure the tread is in good condition and that the tyres are not completely worn down. Tyre pressure is also very important not only does this improve the efficiency of the bike but, it also reduces the chance of getting punchers and damaging the tyre.
To finish off just give the frame a quick look over for any cracks and dents that may have caused the frame to go out a line.