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Equipment & Gear

Bike Maintenance

Before you set out for a ride, make sure your bike is ready to go, using the easy-to-remember “ABC Quick Check” developed by the League of American Bicyclists.

A = Air

  1. Squeeze the tires. They should feel rock hard.
  2. Use a pump with a gauge to inflate the tires to their recommended pressure, which is written on the side of the tire. (Look for “inflate to 35-60 psi” or “maximum inflation 120 psi.”)
  3. Inspect tires for large cuts, bald spots, or dry, cracked sidewalls. Replace your tires if you see any of these problems.

B = Brakes

  1. Spin both wheels forward. Check that the rims do not rub on the brake pads.
  2. Squeeze each brake lever. There should be more than an inch of space between the brake lever and the handlebar when you squeeze the brake levers.
  3. Check that the brake pads make full contact with the rim. They should not touch the tire or touch the spokes.
  4. Both sides of the brake should return equally when you release the levers. Get the brakes adjusted if one side of the brake rubs on the rim.
  5. When brake pads have less than a quarter inch of rubber left, replace them.

C = Chain, Cassette, and Cranks

  1. On single-speed bikes, the chain should be tight, not sagging.
  2. Lubricate your chain once every 100 miles or once every 5-10 bike rides.
  3. Make sure your crank and chainring bolts are tight.
  4. Rotate the crank to make sure the chainrings are straight, not warped.
  5. Once a year, measure the chain. Twelve links should measure no more than 12 1/8 inches pin-to-pin. If replacement is in order, replace the worn chain and cassette at the same time; new chains will not work with old cassettes.


  1. The quick release does not tighten like a nut and bolt. Do not tighten it by tightening the nut on the right side all the way.
  2. The quick-release lever should be in the “closed” position, pointing up or backward. It is tight enough if you cannot rotate it while it is closed.
  3. To adjust the quick release, open it, and tighten or loosen the nut on the right side until the lever starts to give resistance when it is halfway closed.


  1. Twist stem, handlebar, brake and shift levers, and seat to make sure they are tightly secured.
  2. Shake wheels and cranks sideways to check for loose hubs and bottom bracket bearings.
  3. Lift the bike one inch and drop it; locate any rattling parts and tighten them.
  4. Take a short “roll” on the bike to make sure the brakes and gears are working properly.
Advice Bike Maintenance