Cycling – Before You Go – Advice and Guidance

It is important to ensure you are properly prepared for your ride and your bike is in good working order.


Make sure you are dressed appropriately for the weather conditions and remember that cycling increases any wind chill, on the other hand it also reduces the temperature when its sunny so use sun cream on sunny days.

Helmets – Although not compulsory for cyclists, if you do decide to wear one make sure it is correctly fitted and the straps tight enough to stop it from moving when cycling.

Loose clothing – Make sure you do not have any loose clothing, if you do it may get caught up in the bikes mechanism or caught by bushes/tress etc. as you pass by.

Cycling equipment and security

Bike Lock – take a good quality lock with you to ensure the bike can be securely locked to a suitable bike stand etc.

Bell – make sure your bike has a bell, and use it especially when cycling along shared routes with pedestrians. One ring is sufficient to tell others you are approaching (and don’t forget to slow down)

Pump, tyre leavers and spare inner tube – bikes get punctures, it’s a fact of cycling. Take a spare tube, pump and tyre leavers to be able to fix your puncture.

Cycle tool kit – It’s also worth while taking a cycle multi-tool kit to be able to adjust anything which may go wrong.

Lights – if cycling in poor weather or in the dark make sure you have a working white front light and a rear red light. The bike should also be fitted with reflectors at the front, rear and on the pedals. Don’t forget spare batteries.

Check the bike before starting off

There is a full eleven point check list for a bike which should be done regularly called the “M”-Check. Of these you should make sure you check  the following before each ride.

Saddle – Make sure it is at the correct height if you are borrowing or hiring a bike. When sitting on the saddle you should just be able to reach the floor with the balls of each of your feet at the same time. As the bike is a hire bike the saddle may have been changed by the previous rider and not at the correct height for you. If you are tall make sure that you have a large bike and that the saddle does not extend past the limit which will be marked on the tube.

Tyres – Make sure the tyres are pumped up

Brakes – Check both the front and back brakes.

Wheels – make sure that the rear and front wheel are securely fastened and rotate smoothly.

Pedals – Make sure the pedals and chain rotate smoothly.

Lights – switch them on and make sure they work if its getting dark.

The full “M” Check

  1. Rear 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.

  1. Spokes

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

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Pedals

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

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 adjustor 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.

  1. Frame

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

  1. 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.