This is a “post-ride” inspection. Looking over the bike after a ride gives time to order parts and make repairs before the next ride. The trailhead is not the place to discover mechanical issues. By the time the bike situation get sorted out, your friends have already shredded all the singletrack and are out having beers.
Perform this 7 step bike check to avoid getting left behind.
1: Wash It
A clean bike is a fast bike. How do you think the pros ride so fast? It’s because their bikes are always showroom ready. A soapy detailed wash is not always necessary for us average joes. At least spray off large debris and give the drivetrain a good cleaning. The drivetrain should always be the cleanest part on the bike.
Are there cuts or shrapnel in the tires? Are the tires dry rotting and losing knobbies? It might be time for a new set.
Apply chain lube and wipe off excess. Use a chain checker to make sure it is still in spec. A stretched chain results in poor shifting and wears the cassette out prematurely.It is cheaper to replace a chain than to replace a cassette.
Make sure bottle cages are screwed on tight. I have learned this lesson the hard way a few times. Bottle cages have a tendency to rattle loose so it’s not a bad idea to use threadlock here.
Next, make sure frame mounted pumps and tools are securely fastened. I have lost two Specialized SWAT MTB tools after failing to secure them properly.
If the headset feels smooth and you haven’t been riding in mud or sand, then dont worry too much about it. I only disassemble, clean, and grease my headset when nasty water or grit has gotten in there.
Squeeze the spokes together and make sure they are all relatively close in tension. Spin the wheel and make sure it true. Make sure the tire bead is seated all the way around the rim.
Truing wheels and tensioning spokes takes a lot of time and skill. It’s not as easy as it looks. If there is more than one or two spokes that are loose or the wheel is out of true, then I highly recommend taking it to a good bike shop.
Inspect the brake pads and make sure there is still some meat left on them. If there isn’t much there, then go ahead and replace them. Another lesson learned the hard way. I was forced to ride 24 miles of Dupont State Forest with grinding brake pads and rotors and virtually no brakes.
What steps do you think are missing from this 7 step bike check? Leave it in the comments below.