Maintenance Tips

Quick tips:
  • Pump up your tyres! - Inflate your tyres to the recommended pressure. This is normally written on the side wall of every tyre.
  • Check your saddle height! - Adjust your saddle to be at a comfortable, efficient height for cycling.
  • Oil your chain! - Lubricate your chain regularly using bicycle oil, wipe of any excess to avoid attracting dirt.
  • Clean after riding! - After a muddy ride clean your bike with some soapy water and a sponge to avoid future problems.

The M-Check:
If you haven't ridden your bicycle for a while then it is a good idea to check that it is safe to ride before setting off on your next journey. This set of checks can be performed by anyone, and any adjustments (if required) should only require a set of allen keys.

See here for a guide.
  1. Rear wheel
    The wheel should be tightly fitted and the quick release lever or wheel nuts secured tightly.

  2. Spokes
    Should be of equal tension and not loose. Pluck each spoke with your finger. The sound from each spoke should be very similar.

  3. Air in tyres
    If the tyre is soft, then attach your pump to the valve and pump up. Note: There are two types of valve fitting – Presta (long and thin), and Schrader (thicker and slightly shorter). Recommended tyre pressure is usually written somewhere on the tyre.

  4. Saddle
    Check your seat post isn’t loose and that you haven’t exceeded the limit marked on the seat post. Once you have checked these, use an allen key to tighten the seat post clamp. Check the seat is secure by giving it another check once you have finished.

  5. Chain
    Should be clean and oiled. Keeping your chain clean and oiled is important for the smooth running of your bike. Note: Don’t use too much oil as this will pick up more dirt and make the chain more difficult to clean.

  6. Pedals
    Make sure they spin smoothly and that your cranks are on tight, spin smoothly, and don’t creak.

  7. Stem
    Check that your front wheel and stem do not move independently, and that your handlebar clamp bolts are tight. Perform this check by standing in front of the bike, holding the front wheel between your knees, and twisting the handlebars. You can prevent any movement by tightening the stem bolts and the handlebar clamp with an allen key.

  8. Headset
    Check if there is any rocking or clicking in the headset. Perform this check by firmly grasping the head tube with one hand and applying the front brake with the other hand. This will steady the front of the bike so that you can shake the headset to establish any rocking or clicking in the bearings.

  9. Brakes
    Ensure that the front and rear brakes are working properly. If the brake lever pulls against the handlebar grip, the brake cable needs adjusting. This is done by loosening the brake cable anchor bolt, pulling the cable tighter, and tightening the anchor bolt again. Both sides of the brake mechanism should move when the brake is applied. If this is not happening, turn the small adjuster screw on the stationary side until both sides are moving again. Most brakes have these adjuster screws. The brake block must pull flat to the wheel rim. If this is not the case, use an allen key to tighten the block in the correct position. This is done whilst applying the brake. Finally, check the front brake by applying the brake and pushing the bike forwards, and check the back brake by applying the brake and pulling the bike backwards.

  10. Frame
    Look for any cracks or damage. This check requires particular focus on the area where the frame joins the head tube.

  11. Front wheel
    It should be tightly fitted and the quick release lever is secure in the closed position. Not all wheels will have quick release levers. If the wheel is not quick release, check that the nuts on both sides of the wheel are secure.

Links to further repair and maintenance advice:
Park Tool - Excellent and exhaustive collection of guides for maintenance and repair.

Sustrans Maintenance Made Easy - Sustrans guides for bicycle repair.

If you feel that your bicycle needs more attention or you would like someone to have a look at it for you then there are a host of free bicycle workshops around Edinburgh. Details of some of these can be found on our Links page.