1. First of all, take a moment to look at your bike closely – try not to be distracted by admiring your new saddle or paniers! Check for cracks or damage to the frame and make sure that your chain is clean and well–oiled.
Tip: If you’re riding your bike in the UK, you'll probably get caught in the rain. When you get home, remember to dry off your chain before you jump in the shower to warm up.
2. The last thing you want is to lose a wheel when out for a ride. Make sure that the quick release levers at the centre of your front and back wheels are secure and in the closed position. If you don’t have quick release wheels, check the nuts on each side of the wheel.
3. While you’re looking at the wheels, check that the spokes aren’t loose.
4. According to tyre manufacturer Schwalbe, you should check your tyre pressure at least once a month, or they’re likely to wear more quickly, pick up more punctures and take more energy to turn. The recommended pressure is usually found on the side of the tyre.
5. Check that your seat is in the correct position and is secure. You can use an allen key to make sure that it’s not going to move when you cycle.
6. Don’t go your separate ways! Your front wheel and stem (the vertical tube from your handlebars) should not move independently.
7. Put the brakes on! When you pull the brake lever it shouldn’t make contact with the handlebars. If it does, your brake cable may need to be adjusted. If you have a new bike, it’s quite normal for brake and gear cables to stretch in the first couple of months. Many shops now offer a free check to re–adjust them for you during this period.
Look at the brakes themselves as you pull each lever in turn – both sides of the brake should move and the brake block itself must be flush with the wheel rim.
Finally, don’t point your front wheel downhill until you know your brakes work. Apply the front brake and push the bike forwards, then apply the back brake and pull the bike backwards.
8. Spin your pedals to make sure that they move freely. The cranks (the circular part that the pedals attach to) should be tight and not creaky.
9. Creaks in your headset could also spell problems. Hold the head tube firmly and apply the front brake with the other. Rock the bike back and forward to check whether there’s any rocking or clicking in the bearings.