I'm sort of looking for a "generalized checklist" of damage types to look for on a bike that I recently slammed and dragged against a lot of things and now runs a little slower than before. I haven't noted anything obvious but I'm just wondering where to start.

Specifically, yesterday I dragged and yanked my bike through a dense tangle of trees and undergrowth.


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    What type of bike, and what are the frame, fork, and rims made of? Different materials fail in different ways
    – Chris H
    Jul 29, 2020 at 20:14
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    Cables, brakes, derailleurs and QR levers - i.e. a basic safety check. Unlikely to have damaged anything without noticing, depends on how much gorilla is in you :). May have to re-seat cables or caught a QR and loosened it.
    – mattnz
    Jul 29, 2020 at 23:28
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    Yeah, the damage would be to cables and adjustments. And stuff caught in the cables or spokes might be a problem. Jul 30, 2020 at 0:49
  • Thanks!! To answer Chris H, I think the frame, fork and rim are all aluminum. My bike is light and is an older version of this bike: int.mongoose.com/collections/urban/products/kaldi-womens.
    – capet
    Jul 30, 2020 at 3:48

1 Answer 1


Start with a basic M check. Look for both damage and functionality.

The original M check is https://www.sustrans.org.uk/our-blog/get-active/2019/everyday-walking-and-cycling/the-m-check-for-your-bike-in-11-steps

Essentially you methodically examine and test every part of your bike, starting at rear wheel, progress up to saddle, down to BB, up to headset, and down to front wheel.

You methodically test that every part works as it should, makes no bad noises, and is not malfunctioning. You also check for loose items that should be tight, and tight items that should be loose.

If you have access to a workstand, or some other way to hold the bike, then its a bit easier to work through all the gears, but this is not required. You can either hold the rear of the bike off the ground, or hang it by the saddle from something convenient like a tree, fence, cord, or similar.

Another viewpoint on the M check is at https://bikethere.org.nz/im-riding-in-traffic-free-places/m-checks-and-handy-tools/

Specific to your description, you "slammed your bike" and then dragged it through undergrowth. So something happened to make you fall off, and then you wheeled the bike through some vegetation.

Part 1 - falling off. Figure out why you fell off. If you hit a rock or pothole with a wheel that stopped your forward motion, then check all around that wheel/rim for damage. If you overcompressed your suspension and hit the ends, then check for air loss (if air based) or that the resistance hasn't significantly changed. If some part of your bike was the cause of the fall, then check that part.

Part 2 - undergrowth. Not sure if you rolled your disabled bike on its wheels, or if you literally dragged it sideways while the bike was lying down. Either way, shouldering the bike would have been a better way to move it.
Check the whole frame and transmission for bits of grass/twigs/stones and removed them. Give the bike a good wash to remove grit and dirt that will increase wear.

Part 3 - it runs slower. That means something's rubbing. The prime candidates are

  • tyres rubbing on frame/mudguards
  • brake pads not quite opening enough
  • transmission not quite in line (ie something's out of position)

The cause should be pretty obvious once you find it.

It often helps to clean the bike before or while checking, to help remove dirt that could obscure damage.

If you have any areas that seem suspect, do take some clear photos and edit them into your question.

Shouldering a bike to carry it:

Essentially putting your right arm through the frame. This keeps the oily transmission away from your body. Some frames may not have room through the frame, so you can hook the nose of your saddle over your shoulder instead. A long walk may require some padding between your shoulder and the frame.

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclo-cross
By Original uploader was Julius.kusuma at en.wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3778736

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    “A long walk may require some padding” – I'd rather say it may require switching to the MTB carrying position (down tube across both shoulders, hands on fork-leg and pedal crank). That's over longer time spans much more comfortable than the cyclocross position that you explained. Jul 30, 2020 at 9:20
  • @leftaroundabout yes that's an excellent point. Its also wider, as a downside.
    – Criggie
    Jul 30, 2020 at 10:04
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    A couple of things to add:also check forks and headset bearings for hard front impacts under point 1; Under point 3: check for plant matter in moving parts. After riding through long grass my MTB felt draggy recently, sure enough there was quite a lot of grass caught in the cassette and rear mech
    – Chris H
    Jul 30, 2020 at 14:46
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    Kicking myself now for not shouldering, especially since my Bike is so light :/. Thanks!
    – capet
    Jul 30, 2020 at 18:35

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