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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

Ready to ride

Find out how to inflate a bike tyre and do an ‘M’ check to make sure you’re ready to ride.

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You’ll need

  • Bikes
  • Bike pumps
  • Allen keys
  • Hex keys
  • Wrenches
The M check details
PDF – 101.8KB
The M check checklist
PDF – 652.8KB

Before you begin

  • You could ask people to bring clothing and equipment from home so you have enough – just make sure they put their name in it before you begin.
  • For this activity, hand pumps or mini pumps are better than compressors.
  • The helpers don’t necessarily need to be adults – Young Leaders could help too. Helpers do need to have some knowledge of bikes; they need to be able to show how to do a basic check, and inflate and deflate tyres. We’ve included a checklist so helpers can learn enough to help others.
  • If you don’t have enough volunteers who cycle, you could invite parents, carers, or members of a local cycling club to bring their bike and be expert helpers.
  • Don't forget to have a look at our cycling guidance too. 

Learn the ‘M’ check

  1. Everyone should split into groups of between four and six. The person leading the activity should give each group a bike and a helper.

You may need to adjust the size of the groups, depending on how many bikes and helpers you have.

  1. Each group should talk about what sorts of things they may need to check on a bike before they set off. Anyone who’s heard of an ‘M’ check could explain it to the rest of the group.
  2. The helper in each group should explain that an ‘M’ check is a helpful way to remember the different things to check on a bike. Everyone should imagine there’s an invisible ‘M’ on the bike, starting from the front tyre and ending at the back tyre. People could take it in turns to draw the ‘M’ – this is the shape they’ll use to check everything.
  3. Each group should start their ‘M’ check by checking the front tyre together. Someone should squeeze the tyre to check if it’s firm or soft. Someone should show the group how to pump up a tyre, and explain how they knew when to stop.

Correctly pumped tyres should feel very firm when you squeeze them, but they should still have bounce if you bounce the bike up and down. Most tyres also have the recommended tyre pressure on them, so if your pump has a pressure gauge you can read the right pressure.

  1. The helper should overpump the front tyre and leave the pump attached. They should explain that the tyre not has too much air, and everyone should talk about why this is dangerous. People should suggest what they can do to solve the problem.
  2. The helper should take the pump off of the valve to show everyone that the valves automatically stop air being released. They should explain that people will need to make the air come out. What they need to do depends on the type of tyre.

Presta tyres need you to press down on the tip of the valve. Schraeder tyres need you to put the pump back on the tyre, then push it down on the valve.

  1. Everyone should have a turn at inflating and (slightly) deflating the tyre. They should make sure the tyre’s correctly inflated and the valve cap is back on before they move on.
  2. The helper should help everyone to follow the ‘M’ check list to check the rest of the bike. Everyone should take it in turns to try things on the bike and tick items off the list.

The helper should help everyone learn what they need to look and feel for at each stage, and what they should do to solve any problems they find.


This activity was a chance for everyone to develop skills. Knowing how to make sure a bike is safe to ride is a really useful skill. Everyone should think about what could happen if the tyres on a bike weren’t properly inflated. It would make the bike harder to ride, and could even damage the tyres. What would people do if they had a flat tyre on a bike ride? If they did the ‘M’ check first, they’ll have checked the pump is in place. Everyone should run through the steps to inflate a tyre together: take the cap off, fit the pump, look at the gauge, inflate the tyres, replace the cap and pump. The helpers should share one think they love about cycling, and one tip they have for the group.

This activity also gave people a chance to be independent. The helpers were really important in this activity; people couldn’t have learned without them (or their bikes). Everyone should thank the helpers, and anyone else who brought in equipment. Once the helpers had taught people what to do, they had the chance to do things for themselves. How did it feel to be able to do parts of an ‘M’ check for yourself? It’s really important for cyclists to be safe, so well done for learning such an important skill for yourself.


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Heavy and awkward objects

Never lift or move heavy or awkward items alone. Ask for help or, if possible, break them down into smaller parts.

Once everyone’s confident with the ‘M’ check, you could turn it into a relay game. Teams should stand in a line, then the first person should run to the bike and do the first check. They should return to the line and send the next person to do the second check, and so on.

If anyone fancies a challenge, they could demonstrate the whole ‘M’ check by themselves.

You could invite someone from your local cycling club, or a local community police officer, to talk more about cycle safety.

Anyone who struggles with fine motor skills can still get involved, for example, by reading the gauge and working the pump.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

You could go on a bike ride together, making sure everyone does the ‘M’ check before you head off on your adventure.