Before you take your bike out, check the wear and tear on your components and adjust them if its necessary. Start off with your chain. If you haven't replaced it in a year or more, it's time to do so. Over time, the individual parts in the chain will get worn out, increasing its effective length.
As this happens, the chain is no longer able to conform to the cog and the teeth of the chain ring, so it wears those teeth out to fit the profile of the chain. If you can replace the chain before it stretches too much you'll save yourself from having to replace high priced cogs and chain rings.
Now, check the bearing surfaces. These include your bottom bracket, hubs, and the headset. Each of these should turn without a problem with no play in the system. Before checking the bottom bracket, make sure each cranking arm is snugged tight. Next, hold on to the crank arm (not the pedal) and wobble it back and forth. If you hear any clicking or if the crank arm binds, the bottom bracket needs to be adjusted.
Do the exact same thing with your hubs. Take the wheels off the bike, spin the hub axles, then feel for any free play or binding. If you feel play or binding, you need to make an adjustment. To check the headset, start off by putting the newly adjusted wheels back on the bike.
Now, grab the front brake and pull and push the handle bars back and forth. There shouldn't be any play. If you lift the front end off the ground, the fork should turn very smoothly. If it feels rough, it needs to be either adjusted or replaced.
While you're looking, check the condition of your cables and housing. The cables should be rust free and the housing shouldn't be cracked or kinked. If you see any of this you should replace the offending device, as if you don't, your shifting and braking will be sluggish.
Last, you should inspect your brake pads. Most pads will have ridges or indicator marks that will let you know when they need to be replaced. Brake pads that are worn out will compromise both safety and braking efficiency.
Once you've got the tune ups out of the way, it's time to go for a ride. With your bike running better than ever, all you have to do now is have fun!
About the author
Patrice Audet as ridden bicycles his entire life : mountain, roads, fatbikes, commuters, gravel bikes... He's now working at a local bike shop in Quebec City, Canada and runs a bicycle themed t-shirts store on the Internet. You can browse his t-shirt models at https://www.teeezy.com. Have a nice ride!