Simple Checks Before You Hop On the Saddle

The following list is a good little reminder on a few of the things to check before you head out on your mountain bike.  Okay, so it’s a bit basic, but having this checklist to hand can’t hurt and will hopefully prompt you to just give the bike a general good going over before you set off.  It’s much better to spend 10 minutes checking the basics BEFORE hopping on the saddle than it is having something fail half-an-hour down a trail!  Read on…

Is Your Mountain Bike Ready For the Trail?
By Mary Blomquist

Is your mountain bike ready to hit the trail? Spring is a great time to do a preride inspection before each ride to prevent injuries or bike malfunctions, but preride inspections and mountain bike maintenance should really be done on a regular basis.

The following are some quick tips to make sure your mountain bike is ready for the trail.


You can do a quick check of your headset by holding down the front brake and pushing the bike forward and back. The headset should be tight and not move or make noise.


Check your brake pads for excessive or uneven wear. Squeeze the brakes and make sure you can’t squeeze the levers all the way to the handlebar. If you can, the pads probably need to be replaced.

If you have V-brakes, make sure the pads go flat against the rims. If you have disk brakes, listen for squealing when the brake lever is squeezed. If they make a lot of noise, the rotors may need to be cleaned with a soft rag and rubbing alcohol.


Check your tire pressure and visually inspect the tires to see if they have cracks, cuts, or are unevenly worn. Make sure the tires are on all the way around the rims on both sides.


Spin the wheels and make sure there is no wobbling, rattling, or rubbing. If there is, make sure the wheel is attached properly. The wheel should move freely and silently.


Check your shock preload by sitting on your bike and measuring the sag with zip-ties. Sag should be at 25-30% give or take for different riding styles.


Check all the bolts on your bike with Allen wrenches and tighten if necessary.


Do a quick shift through the gears to make sure the bike is shifting smoothly. Lubricate the pivot points of the derailleurs and check cables and housing.

Clean and Lubricate:

Keep your bike clean and lubricate the drivetrain. Do a thorough cleaning and lubrication if it still has crud on it from last year.

For more information and tips on how to clean and lubricate your mountain bike, please visit

Mary Blomquist is a mountain biking enthusiast who lives in Colorado and is the founder of, a site that is full of information and tips for mountain bikers.

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As stated above, all fairly basic stuff, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of the basics some times.

[Image courtesy of genefilter]