Regular cleaning and basic maintenance are important for the safety and longevity of your bike.  Regular cleaning & basic adjustment of the drive train components will extend the life of your chain, derailures and other components and insure smooth shifting and general operation.  A slipped chain, sticky gears or other problems from poor maintenance can create hazards on the road, so it’s very important to follow a proper maintenance plan.  Similarly, it’s important that you regularly check the nuts and bolts on the bike to ensure they are tight.  These parts can work loose over time due to the vibration created with riding, so don’t simply assume they are tight.  CHECK!  Your bike’s brakes operate through friction between either the pad and the rim (traditional caliper brakes) or the pad and disc (disc brakes), and will need periodic adjustments and maintenance.  The importance of the brakes for safety should be obvious, so, again, do yourself a favor and CHECK them.  Routinely!  Finally, a basic rundown of your bike’s condition should be a first step before you ride.  Don’t forget about the wheels; particularly if you have quick release hubs.  Make sure those levers are tight before each and every ride!

Need more information?  Your local bike shop is always a good place to turn.  Or consider a class.  Many basic courses are available for little to no cost.  REI is a great source for information and basic instruction.  Take the following link for example:

Remember, the first link in your chain to safe cycling is YOU!