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Hell and welcome to bike repair.  For this edition I’ll be showing you how to check all the crucial bits on your bike.  When you first get your bike its always worth checking the bike over before you take it out to make sure everything is secure and ready for the maiden journey.  Most bike shops will do this but when you’re spending good money on your bike it pays to take a look for yourself.

The tools you’ll need for this are pretty simple, the main tool will be a mini torque wrench, ( available on line for around (30-40 ££$$).  This is pretty much the main tool that will be used for almost all the adjustment you need.  Other than a screw driver for any gear adjustments that may be required after a few 1000 kms of riding. 

Before we get started with the bike check you need to remember when you’re using the torque wrench you have to adjust it to the relevant settings for each bolt you adjust.  This is either marked on the frame by the fitting or on the part itself.  This is a critical area to look at if your working on a carbon framed bike or titanium frame.

Ok so when your looking at your bike and you’re wanting to give the whole bike the once over it’s best to start at either the top and work down or at the bottom and work up.  This way your not getting confused as to where you have checked and what you haven’t. 

I like to start at the top and work down, the first area I look at is the handlebars.  Now there’s not a lot to really check here but you need to cover all the areas, to give yourself the reassurance you know its ok.  Take a good look around the bottom of the bars and make sure all the bar tape is securely in place with the tube ends in tightly.  You can make sure there in by pushing them in with the palm of your hand or by using a rubber mallet and tapping carefully.  Don’t use a normal hammer as this could break the end caps and damage the bar ends.

Once you know the ends are secure and in place, have a good look a the bar tape.  look for a good even coverage and any tears that could result in the tape breaking further. When you get round to the levers take a look at the hoods, (the rubber covers on the brake levers).   Look for any movement and if your getting wrist ache you could look at lowering these slightly and see how you get on after this adjustment.

Moving back from the levers you can look at the Stem, (this is the bit that goes from the bike to the handle bars).  Here you’ll find 4 bolts attaching the stem to the handle bar and 4 bolts also attaching the the bike via the stack, (where all the coller fit to adjust the height of the bars). These are normally around 6Nm, ATTENTION when doing up a fixing to the required torque setting I always like to do it up to the required setting and then undo it a fraction, this is more a personal thing as I never like to over tighten anything.

When your looking at these areas don’t feel like you have to undo every fitting you come across and re tighten again, all your looking for is to see if there at the required level of tightness.  So just adjust to the right setting and see if it needs doing up any more.

On the Stack you’ll also have a bolt that goes into the top of the front forks, this is more of an end cap and again is normally set at around 6Nm but go careful as over tightening can cause the internal spline to break.  Don’t panic though as these are pretty easy to repair and easy to do.  Then there’s also two bolts again that are tightened to 6Nm which fix the bars to the forks.

The only thing you need to look at on the front of the bike is the brake pads or disc’s if you’ve moved to them recently.  Here you’re looking to see if the pads are aligned with the braking areas of the wheels correctly and that the callipers or levers are braking evenly.  If you’re able to look at the pads and squeeze the brakes on from the front levers you’ll be able to see the pads reach the breaking surface and if there not set right you’ll see the wheel move slightly.   All you need to do is adjust them by either moving the brakes slightly or on certain brakes you have adjustment screws.

Now you’re happy with the front of the bike I’d then take a quick look at your saddle mount, this again is a torque setting of around 6Nm and to be honest doesn’t really need a great deal of checking.  From here I’de move down to the rear brakes and like the front make sure they are making good contact to the braking areas on the wheels or discs.

Once you’re happy with these areas you’ve checked so far you can start to look at the chain.  This is an area that requires nothing more than a cloth and some chain cleaner, unless you’re bike is super clean anyway.  So to check the chain you just need to make sure there’s no stiff links when the chain rotates through its motion.  Do this nice and slow so you can see every link.

Then put the chain on the big ring (largest cog  on the crank) and look to see if you can pull the chain off the front to expose the teeth on the big ring.  If your chain can move enough to expose a tooth then its stretched and you may need to replace it.  If you do change you’re chain it’s also recommended to change the rear cassette as well.  The reason for this is because they both wear together, if you change the chain on its own and not the rear cassette you could be prone to chain slip under load.

Once you’ve checked the chain and your happy that theres no wear then you need to oil it.   This is one of the easiest parts to maintain on your bike but so many riders overlook it and think its ok covered in all that black gunk.  In fact thats wrong the cleaner your chain the better it is and longer it’ll last.

Choosing the right oil is relatively important, you don’t want to put a winter lube on in the summer, alternatively you don’t want to put a summer lube on in the winter.  They all have their own consistency meaning they’ve been designed to work better in the conditions stated.  When applying the oil/lube, slowly rotate the chain applying a drop on each link. This can seem a little over kill and most would just squirt it all over the chain and then wonder why there bike and rear wheel is covered in oil.

Making sure you apply a good drop of lube on the chain then leave for a while, you can run the chain through a cloth to remove any excess but if you apply it carefully you’ll find you don’t loose a great amount.  This means you’re not having to buy loads of oil and its not covering your whole bike or the floor.  After about 10 mins you can then look to see if you need to put any more oil on, you should be able to touch the chain and it’ll have a sticky feel to it, this is fine and is now ready.

As for the bottom bracket there’s not a great deal you will need to check here, as long as it rotates smoothly it’ll be OK till your first service.

One area that is very sensitive is the gear adjustment, if you’re on a newish bike you won’t need to adjust the settings.  If you find the gears don’t quite go in go back to the bike shop from where you purchased it and they should set it up correctly.

If however you have had the bike for a few years and have just recently noticed the gears are not quite right, like the brakes they have a small adjustment screw that you can adjust to the right setting.  Go careful when your attempting to mess with the gears, if you try and over adjust you’ll balls it all up so remember little adjustments are always best.  Quarter turns will help ensure you don’t make too much of a pigs ear of it but you should be ok as long as you don’t get to twist happy.

The brakes have an adjustment screw and then theres the tension lever.  The tension lever should be pointing down at all times and is only there to release the tension to remove the back wheel when you need to take it off.  I see so many cyclist who ride along with this as a form of brake adjustment and when they come to remove the wheel there struggling to get the tyre between the brake pads.

The adjustment screw is pretty simple again to understand and all you need to do is just turn it a quarter turn each time till your at the desired tension.

All you need to check now is the tyres, this is by far the easiest part of a bike check.  Have a good look around the tyres and look for any cuts or anything that could cause a puncture.  Also have a look around the valves to make sure the pressure release screw is screwed all the way in, go careful with this screw as it can break off resulting in a new tube.

One other thing to take a look at is the bottle holders, these bolts should be ok and not require any attention, however if you think they are a little loose give them a little tighten. REMEMBER if you have a carbon frame you should only tighten them up to about 4 or 5Nm if you over tighten you could end up damaging your frame.

I hope this helps you get a basic understanding of your bike, I’d like to think that the more you know about your bike the more confident you’re riding will be.

If you have any questions please feel free to send me a message on the contact page.  If you want to check out the video for some visual aid then just click the video beneath.

Thanks for reading this and I’ll have more videos coming soon, till then stay safe.