Ride St Albans
Getting your bike ready to ride

Getting your bike ready to ride

To maximise your cycling experience, it is important that your bicycle is the correct size for your height. If your bicycle is too big, or the saddle or handlebars are in the wrong position, you will not be able to control it properly and ride safely.

You should also regularly check your bicycle to ensure it is in good working order. Get advice on making sure your bike is ready to ride.

Choosing a bicycle that is the right size.

You need to be comfortable and able to stop safely on your bike so make sure it is the right size for you. Try stand over the frame of the bicycle. If it is the right size, you should be able to:

🚲 Have both your feet flat on the ground

🚲 Get on and off the bicycle easily

🚲 Comfortably lift the front wheel at least 5 centimetres off the ground

Saddle and handlebars height

Your saddle (seat) and handlebars should be set at a height that is comfortable for you. Try placing one heel on the pedal. Your leg should just straighten when the pedal is furthest from the saddle. Make sure you do not raise the saddle high enough to see the height limit mark on the seat post. If the saddle needs to be this high for you to sit comfortably, your bicycle is probably too small.

Move towards the rear of the bicycle and hold the saddle tightly. Check that you cannot move it up and down or from side to side. If it moves, tighten it.

Check your bicycle is fit to ride

To ensure your bicycle is in good working order do the following checks regularly:

Front tyre and wheels. Lift the front end of the bicycle by the handlebar stem and then:

🚲 Give the top of the wheel a bang with your hand to check that it does not fall out of the forks or move from side to side

🚲 Check the wheel does not move from side to side when you try to wobble it – to be sure the bearings are not worn

🚲 Spin the front wheel – the brakes should not rub on the wheel rim

🚲 Squeeze the sides of the tyre – inflate it if it feels soft to the correct psi level (the correct level for your tyre can be found on the side of the tyre)

🚲 Look for gaps, cuts or bulges on the tyres – these are signs that the tyres are worn and need to be replaced

If you have a front mudguard, there should be at least 5 millimetres between the front mudguards and the tyre. Remove the mudguard if t rubs against the tip of your shoe when you pedal. Lift the rear of the bicycle by the saddle and go through the same checks for the back wheels.


Apply the front brakes. Check that the:

🚲 Brakes work – try pushing the bicycle forward with the brakes on

🚲 Brake pads sit evenly on the wheel rim – they should not touch at one end and not the other

🚲 Cables inside the brake levers are not frayed

🚲 Brake levers and handgrips are tight on the handlebars, all the nuts and screws are attached, and the ends of the handlebar tube are covered.

Apply the back brake and go through the same checks. The back tyre should slide, not roll when you apply the brakes and push the bike forward.

Handlebars and steering

All the parts on the handlebars should be tight and you should be able to steer freely. Release the brakes, stand in front of the front wheel and grip it between your knees. Then make sure nothing is loose when your try to:

🚲 Turn the handlebars from side to side

🚲 Apply the brakes and try to rotate the handlebars

Chain, gears and pedals

Ask someone to work the pedals by hand while you hold the rear wheel off the ground by the saddle. Then:

🚲 Shift through all the gears on the back sprocket and front gear changer to check the chain stays on and moves smoothly

🚲 Wobble each pedal from side to side to check they do not move too much – if they do, the bearings in the bottom bracket need replacing.

Make sure the chain is not hanging off, broken or rusty. Lubricate the chain with chain specific oil if necessary.


Whilst not a legal requirement we would recommend that a bicycle helmet is worn at all times when cycling. If you are unsure about making adjustments to your bicycle.

If you need help maintaining your bicycle our fully trained mechanics at Ride St Albans will be more than happy to help you. Call Mike on 01727 614778 or 07767 305064 to book a TechnicianΒ 

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