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Bicycle Checkup
From: Ministry of Transportation

Keeping your bike roadworthy is a continuing process. At the beginning of each riding season or after not having ridden for a while, make a thorough check of your bike to ensure it is in good working order. Before each ride, do a quick check of your brakes, bolts, tires and night riding accessories.

A thorough checkup involves testing the brakes, tires, wheels, frame and forks, seat, bolts, chain, gears and accessories. It doesn't take long. You can do it yourself or have a reputable bike shop do the job for under $50.


By law, a bike must have at least one brake capable of stopping the vehicle. Most bikes are equipped with either coaster or caliper (hand) brakes. Caliper brakes are preferable because they have a brake on each wheel to provide more control and better stopping power. About two-thirds of the stopping power comes from the front wheel brake, one-third from the rear.

Coaster brakes require a longer stopping distance and can burn out on hills. However, they are a good choice for younger children who don't have the hand strength to use caliper brakes.

To check the brakes, pull the levers as hard as possible. Between the brakes and the handlebars, there would be about 25 millimetres (the width of two fingers.) If there is not, the cables need tightening. Caliper and brake bolts should be secure and brake lever attachments tightly fastened to the handlebars. A frayed cable should be replaced.

The brake block, the rubber part of the brake that touches the wheel, must be aligned with the wheel rim so it doesn't touch the tires or hit the spokes. There should be at least 3 millimetres of rubber outside the metal holder (about the thickness of two loonies).

Braking takes longer in wet weather because the brakes need to dry the rim before gripping effectively. Alloy rims dry faster than steel rims.


Flat tires are the commonest maintenance problems on bikes. Inspect tires carefully for signs of wear or damage. If large cuts, bulges or cracks due to age or excessive tread wear are visible, replace the tire. Remove any grit embedded in the tire before it penetrates to the tube.

The correct air pressure for your tires is marked on the tire. Always inflate as indicated and use a tire gauge to ensure it is correct. With practice, you will learn to tell the correct pressure by squeezing the tire.


Make sure the nuts or quick releases are tight and the quick releases are aligned with the forks. A wheel is "true" if it doesn't wobble when it is spun. If it wobbles, the spokes may need adjusting or the rims may be bent. Check the spokes for bends or breaks. Wiggle each one and tighten if necessary.

Frame & Forks:

Look for signs of a cracked frame, particularly where parts join together. Also check for rust. Sand and repaint small rust spots to protect the metal.


For comfortable riding the seat should be at the proper height and angle. The seat on a child's bike should be checked twice each season and adjusted if necessary so it's the proper height as the child grows. Remember that the seat post should be inserted into the seat tube at least 50 millimetres (three finger widths).


Make sure all bolts and clamps are tight. The handlebars should turn freely with no clunking sounds. The crank should rotate freely with no sideways movement.


The chain should be cleaned and oiled regularly, particularly after riding in the rain. Be sure it has no rusty, weak or stiff links. On bicycles with gears, the chain should be firm with no sagging.


To make sure that all gears work, lift the rear wheel off the ground, turn the cranks and shift through all the gears. The front and rear derailleurs should move the chain on to each sprocket or chainwheel, but not so far that it falls off. Shift levers should not move at all when not being shifted. Worn cogs in the freewheel may cause slipping when riding hard so the cog or freewheel may need to be replaced.

Required Accessories:

By law, a bike must be equipped with a working bell or horn. When riding one-half hour before sunset to one-half hour after sunrise, a bike must have a white front light and a red rear light or reflector. It must also have white reflective tape on the front forks and red reflective tape on the rear forks.

Contact Information:
1461 Main East,
Hamilton, ON, Canada
Phone: 905-544-0338

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