If you are not confident with any of these adjustments, make sure you get to the local bike shop before your next ride and have them take a look!
As you re-lube your drive chain, run through the gears to ensure they don’t need adjustment. Make sure your highest and lowest gears are free of spokes and the bike frame. Also ensure they are sitting quietly on each sprocket and not trying to change up or down sprockets. Make the small adjustments. If there is a lag or stiff shifters when you change gears up or down, there may be cable tension issues.
Have a quick look at your brake pads and ensure they are free of grit and road debris. Also ensure your brake levers are smooth and spring back freely. If your cable ends are frayed or the outer housings are cracked, consider replacement. Potential cable issues are best sorted out in the workshop, not on the road.
Have a close look at your tyres. Spin each wheel, the tyre should maintain its shape as it spins without bumps or bulges. If not, then they need to be changed as they are no longer capable of consistently holding high pressure and will fail in the next couple of rides. If this happens on the road or trail, a tube won’t get you home. Also check for any obvious cuts or foreign objects in the tyres, if so tweezers are handy to remove. Make sure you are happy with the amount of tread and ensure the casing is not showing through at all. If so, it's time to change those tyres.
Lift the bike and gently drop from a couple of centimetres above the ground, any rattles? Maybe a loose bottle cage or loose bolt? Make sure all are tight before you hit the road. Be aware of the tension required as over tightening can result in equipment failure.
If you keep your bike clean and maintained this whole process should take no more than 10 minutes.
But there are many added bonuses of riding a clean and well maintained bike! It just feels great when your bike looks awesome and runs like a dream. We, like most people, have to find time to get out on the road or trail, and with our bikes in the office, there is nothing like a shining bike to get you motivated to sneak in that time and enjoy the ride. Keep it simple with basic bike maintenance checks.