Cycling to Work P2 : The ‘M’ Check

Cycling to Work P2 : The ‘M’ Check

Like checking the oil or tyre pressures on your car, there are also things you can check on your bike to ensure that it’s safe to ride.  We use an easy to remember system to help, called The M-Check 

  1. Starting at the front of your bike, check that your tyre is inflatedgive it a squeeze!  Each individual will like their tyre pressures at different amounts, but if you stay within the range indicated on the tyre then they will last longer, glide along nicely, and will have less risk of puncture.  Check that your tyres are in good condition. 
  1. Check that your wheel is fully seated on the fork and that your quick release is fully engaged and pointing behind the front fork (so that I can’t get hooked up on anything as you ride). Not all bikes have quick-release levers, if you wheels are bolted on, check they are nice and tight.   

  1. Brake bolts – check these are tight
  2. The headset is what connects your forks to the frame.  Apply the front brake and rock your bike back and forth.  There should be no clunking, or wobble coming from the headset.  If you have, then the headset may need tightening, but not overtight as to restrict the handlebars turning smoothly.   

  1. Similarly, check your handlebars are secured tightly to the stem – make sure the bolts here are nice and tight (but not overtight!). Pay attention to any torque settings that may apply to your stem and handlebars – it’s important to not overtighten bolts.  

  1. Also check the bolt (or bolt depending on type) that connects the stem to the rest of the bike/fork steerer tube – being able to steer is pretty important, I’m sure you agree! 


  1. Down to the pedalling area – the cranks!  Give them a spin – do they run smoothly – no creaking, wobbles or lumpiness?  Check that your pedals and cranks are on tight (if you have the tool, use that– if not given them a wobble and make sure there is no play in them).   
  2. Up to the saddle and seat post.  Make sure that the saddle is on tight – no wobble (there is a bolt underneath if it needs to be tightened). The seat stem should be not exceeding the hight marked on it (if you can’t see the mark, you are fine!)  and then bolt or quick-release is nice and tight on the clamp attached to your frame.  Again the quick release lever should be pointing towards the rear of the bike to avoid being hooked by accident.  

  1. Check that the rear brake bolts are fully secure
  2. Next, the gear bit at the back, otherwise known as the rear derailleur. Make sure that it is fully secured using the bolt on the front.  
  3. Check that the rear wheel bolts or quick release is secured (remember to point the lever behind the rear frame also).

  1. Lastly, check that your rear tyre is inflated the same as the front and that they are in good condition 


Other observations as you perform your M check:   

  • If your frame develops a crack, sometimes this can happen at a weld, do NOT ride it as it’s very unsafe.  We can assess it for you and see whether it can be fixed or is unfortunately terminal!   
  • We advise that you keep your bike relatively clean from grit and dirt, particularly in the winter. Grime will wear out your components fast, particularly the chain and therefore the gears and cogs. 
  • Even though a bicycle is regularly serviced, components can wear and bolts can work loose through normal use.  Regularly performing this check will also help you identify some problems before they become too bad, saving you money and time in the long run.   
  • If you find any creeks or wobbles, it’s probably time for a service.  Book your bike in with us and we’ll get it back to good health in no time. 

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