A basic mechanical preparation, before starting a bike trip, is as simple as A-B-C-D. Literally.

These four letters are a good way to remember the four main points to check before heading out on a new adventure.

A for Air

Are your tires inflated enough? If not, is there a puncture in the inner tube? If so, repair or change it!

What is the state of your tires? On some, a colorful strip shows when the wear is dangerous. On others, some signs (cracks on the tire walls, dryed rubber, etc.) will tell you it is time to buy some new tires!

B for Brakes

Are your brakes working well? If you shake them with one hand, do they stay firmly in place? If not, repair or replace them! You would not want to lose one of them on the road.

What about your brakes adjustments? When you brake, do you hear a noise? The inclination of the brake pad could be wrong. To learn how to tune your brakes, visit the Park Tool website.

What about the wear of your brake pads? If it is high, change them.

Are your brake cables intact, not wore out and rust-free? Replacing them can be necessary, especially when some strands are cut out.

“C” for Chain

Does your chain show some wear signs: it skips when you pedal, some links do not rotate well with the next ones? Sometime, it is better to replace it. If you hesitate, a bike mechanic could measure your chain’s wear. An used and old chain contributes to the premature degradation of your casette, your pulleys (the small cogs of the rear derailleur) and your chainrings.

Does your chain is stuck in dust and grime? If so, clean it deeply and apply a thin layer of lubricant.

Does your chain is dry, rusty? It probably lacks lubricant. If it is a mild problem, a bit of oil should solve it. If it is more serious, you should replace your chain by a new one.

“D” for Derailleurs

Are your derailleurs correctly bolt to the frame? If not, screw them tight before they fall on the ground!

Do they show some play at the pivot points? If so, the speed shifting is probably inefficient. If this is a major problem, replace the derailleur.

Your derailleurs are poorly adjusted? A complete bike tour with this problem, it’s long: solve the issue! The Park Tool website, once again, should provide you the knowledge that you need to do the job by yourself. Option B: visit your prefered bike shop.


Of course, you could do more. For instance, it is recommended to check the ball bearings of the wheels and of the crankset, once in a while. But this is a bit complicated and maybe you will prefer to let a good bike mechanic take care of it.

ABCD : it is not complicated!

Many thanks to Julien Normand, from Vélocentrix, who shared this useful mnemonic during a training called “On the road repairs”, on April 24, 2016.

Alex_vu_par_Ibrahim (2)Article by Alexandre St-Laurent.