Your 6-step bike safety checklist: 'The M Check'

Saddle adjusting | Lachlan Gardiner
Saddle adjusting | Lachlan Gardiner

Whether you are training for a big ride or planning to use your bike on your next cycling holiday, you want to make sure it's safe to ride before you hit the trails.

The 'M check' is a simple way to make sure your bike is in good riding condition and all the parts are working properly. Below we list a step-by-step checklist on how to regularly maintain your bike.

What is the 'M check'?

Starting at the wheel of your bike and moving up towards your seat, back down to the pedals, to the handlebars and finally to the other wheel. As you trace your way around, it creates an M shape (see the diagram below).

Bike M Check |  <i></i>

We will look at these different points around the bike and how to do a pre-ride safety check.

What do you need to do a bike safety 'M check'?

You will need your pump, chain grease and a set of allen keys.

Step 1: Wheels

  • Check that your wheel is tightly fitted. The nuts or quick-release lever on either side of the middle of the wheel should be tight. Apply the front back and try to move your wheel from side to side – there shouldn't be any movement in the axle.

  • Check your spokes are tightly done up. You can do this by pinching two spokes together and seeing if there is much movement.

  • Check your tyre pressure matches the recommendation on the tyre and spin your wheel to check they are moving smoothly.

Checking your bicycle's tyre pressure:

Road tyres

  • 90 PSI for a 70kg rider. Add/subtract 2 PSI for every 5kg over/under 70kg
  • Should be very firm to touch and almost impossible to make an indent with your thumb

Hybrid/city bike tyres
(wider with tread)

  • 50 PSI for the front wheel and 55 PSI for the rear wheel
  • Should feel like squeezing an orange

Mountain bike tyres (wider with very thick tread)

  • 36 PSI for a 70kg rider. Add 1 PSI for every 5kg over 70kg
  • Due to the large volume of mountain bike tyres, they don't need as much inflation


Step 2: Saddle or seat

  • Make sure your saddle is on tightly by moving it from side to side. If it moves, use your allen keys to tighten the frame around the seat post.

  • If you have a dropper seat post – make sure it's moving smoothly up and down.

Trail Journeys specifically developed trail bikes |  <i>Lachlan Gardiner</i>

Step 3: Bike chain

  • Check your chain is clean, lubricated and free of rust. If your chain looks dirty, get your cleaning kit out.

  • Make sure you don't add too much oil as it will only pick up more dirt. After you’ve cleaned it and let it dry! A clean bike is a fast bike.

Quick tip: If you clean your chain, gears, or any other greasy bits, make sure you don’t use the same cloth or brush on or near any parts of your brakes. You want to avoid getting any grease onto brake pads or rotors!

Step 4: Pedals

  • Your pedals shouldn't have any sideways movement and should spin freely. If they aren't, they may need a service.

Step 5: Handlebars

  • Check that your handlebars are done up tightly and are straight. You can check this by holding the front wheel tightly between your knees and trying to rotate the bars. They shouldn't turn, and if they do, tighten the bolts. When doing this, make sure your handlebars are straight by looking directly down on them from above the forks.

Quick tip: It’s a great habit to check over each and every bolt on the bike to make sure nothings has worked itself loose over time. Keep in mind, not to over-tighten the bolts. If you have a torque wrench, set it to the manufacturer-recommended settings. Otherwise, at least just tighten any lose bolts until you feel a bit of tension but do not tighten completely. Just take out the slack.

Step 6: Brakes

  • Slowly wheel the bike alongside you and apply one brake at a time. When you squeeze your left (rear) brake lever the back wheel should lock up. When you squeeze your right (front) brake the bike should stop. If the brake lever pulls all the way to the grip you'll need to get some maintenance done.

Bike fitting at the Trail Journeys Depot |  <i>Lachlan Gardiner</i>

The 'M check' is a great way to give your bike a simple once-over before heading on a long ride.

If you're confident to hit the trails soon, check out our range of guided and self-guided cycling holidays.

What are some tips you do to maintain your bike? Let us know in the comments below.

Cycling, Bike tips, bike maintenance tips, bike safety check, how to do an M check on your bike

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