Here are the checks you should carry out on your bike before the lesson. It’s best to do this at least a week before the lesson if you can, just in case there are problems and you need to take it to a bike shop. Or you could learn to fix your bike yourself by taking one of our maintenance courses.

Fitting — Is your bike adjusted to your size?

  • When you sit on the saddle your toes should be able to touch the ground on both sides
  • When standing over the crossbar - the bar that goes between the handlebars and the seat (if there is one) with your feet flat on the ground it should be at least 5cms below your groin
  • Your knees should not be able to touch the handlebars
  • Check that the seat and handlebars are not raised above their safe limits (there will be an upper limit mark on the seat or handlebar post)

Wheels & tyres

  • Check that your wheels don't wobble from side to side
  • Spin each wheel in turn (it's easier if you turn the bike upside-down) and watch them as they spin to see if they're wonky, or if the tyres bulge out in a certain place
  • Check if the tyres are worn or if there are any cracks in them
  • Make sure the tyres are pumped up fully (the tyres should feel very hard when pressed with very little ‘give’)

Steering

  • Check that the handlebars turn smoothly, without getting stuck
  • Check that the handlebars are in line with the front wheel and that you cannot twist them out of line

Brakes

  • Check that the right-hand brake lever works the front brake. Roll the bike forward while standing beside it, and pull the front brake. The back wheel should lift off the ground
  • Repeat the above for the back break (left-hand lever), rolling the bike backwards (the front wheel should lift off the ground)
  • Check that the brake pads (the rubber blocks that grip the wheel) touch the metal rims of the wheels and not the tyres
  • Check that your fingers can easily cover the brake levers with your wrists straight when you're sitting on the bike
  • When you pull the brakes tight, check that you can still fit two fingers between the levers and the handlebars. If not then the brakes may need tightening.
  • Check that the cables are not frayed.
  • It is a legal requirement to have two working sets of brakes!

Pedals

  • Flick the pedals - they should spin freely.
  • Hold a crank (the arms which hold the pedals) and check that you can't wobble it from side to side

Gears and chain

  • Check that you can change into all gears easily. It is dangerous to have a bike that could jump out of gear without warning
  • Make sure the chain is well oiled, and is not so slack that it jumps when you pedal hard

Accessories

  • Check that any bags are securely fixed and don't get in the way of the wheels or your legs, or any lights.
  • If your bike does not have a rear reflector, fit one - it is a legal requirement.
  • Our cycle training takes place during daylight please note however that front and rear lights are a legal requirement when cycling at night.
  • Below are a few maintenance books and resources that we recommend but please, if you do not know how to fix a problem, take your bike to your local bike shop.
The Bike Book – Fred Milson published by Haynes
The Complete Do it Yourself Bike Book – Mell Allwood published by Carlton Books