How to Tune Up Your Bike
No matter how often you ride you should give your bike a tune-up at least once a year.
Today we’ll learn how to tune up your bike, which I’d recommend doing at least once a year, or even every few months if you ride every day. Since I can’t demonstrate every step of the procedure while keeping this video short, I’ll give a general overview and cover each step further in separate tutorials. You’ll notice below that I’ve written out all of the steps and included links to related tutorials. I’ll be adding new links as future videos are uploaded.
Depending how much work is needed you’ll need a several tools for this job. Most importantly you’ll need:
- Dish soap, water and some rags.
- Chain oil and a light lubricant like Tri-Flow.
- An air pump and tire pressure gauge.
- A set of metric allen wrenches (4-8mm).
- A set of metric open-end wrenches (8-17mm).
- Two 13mm and two 15mm cone wrenches.
- A set of appropriate sized headset wrenches.
- A spoke wrench for wheel truing.
- A chain wear indicator – Alternate Method.
- A repair stand or some rope to hang your bike from the ceiling.
Wheel Cleaning and Tuning
First disconnect your brakes and remove both wheels. This makes it easier to clean the bike frame and tune-up the wheels. Clean between the sprockets of your freewheel or cassette using a rag or a proper cleaning tool. Using a dry rag, wipe down the hubs, spokes, and rims on both wheels. If they are difficult to clean dip your rag in some mildly soapy water and try again. Never use harsh cleaners or a water hose to clean your bike. Check both hub adjustments to make sure they aren’t loose and that they spin freely. Adjust or overhaul them as necessary.
If you have a truing stand, deflate the tires and check the alignment and spoke tension of both wheels and adjust them as needed. Inflate both tires to the recommended pressure and set them aside.
Now wipe down your entire bike frame and components. I usually start at the handlebar and work my way to the rear derailleur in order to keep my rag clean as long as possible. Again you can dampen your rag with soapy water if needed to loosen up any tough grime.
Frame and Parts Inspection
Once clean it’s a good idea to carefully inspect the entire surface of your frame for any hairline cracks or damage. If you notice anything you should take it to your local shop right away for further assessment, as it can be dangerous to ride on a cracked frame. Inspect all of your components as well, paying particular attention to the brake and shift cables. If they are frayed or have damaged housings, now is the time to replace them.
Now apply a few drops of some light lubricant to the inside of your cable housings and all of the pivot points on your brake and shift components. Avoid getting any oil on your brake pads, and wipe off any excess so that it doesn’t collect dirt. Here’s a video that demonstrates cable lubrication.
Headset and Bottom Bracket
Inspect all of your brake pad surfaces and carefully trim away any wear ridges with a razor blade. Resurface them with rough sandpaper to clean up road grime. You should replace the pads if they are worn past the indicator line, or if you can see metal poking through the surface. Watch the brake tutorials.
Now check all of the bolts on your bike to make sure they’re tight, but be careful not to over-tighten. If they already feel tight enough don’t force them any tighter. Important areas to check include your handlebars, levers, shifters, stem, seat, seatpost, brakes, derailleurs, cranks and pedals.
Here is a bicycle torque specification guide from Park Tools.
Now reinstall the wheels and reconnect your brakes. Adjust the brake pads and cable tension as needed. Clean the chain, check for chain wear, and then lubricate it with chain oil. Then adjust the rear derailleur first, and the front derailleur second. Now place the bike on the ground and adjust your handlebar and seat position if needed.
The last step is very important. Take your bike on a thorough test ride, running through all of the gears and testing the brakes. Most of the time you’ll have a few minor re-adjustments to make before your bike is fully ready to ride.
- Park Tool SK-3 Starter Mechanic Tool Kit
- Park Tool PK-3 Professional Tool Kit
- Park Tool PCS-9 Repair Stand
- Park Tool PCS-4 Repair Stand
- Park Tool TS-8 Home Truing Stand
- Park Tool TS-2.2 Home Truing Stand
Discuss this topic in the Bicycle Repairs and Mechanics Forum
I thought I would do a thread about how to do a quality refurbish on a bicycle that will be a good user trouble free for quite a while. The scope of this refurb will not contain content about dealing with battle scars it may have endured in its lifetime, primarily because the bicycle is merely an example of a solid platform to build from (vintage lugged frame circa 1990). Purchased for $15us ...Read more
Hi everyone. The young one has been on his bike steering right with the handle bars, the person steering with the safety steering has forced the safety steering bar the opposite way and now the safety steering will not turn in any direction and everything from the outside appears fine. I’m not sure if it goes into anything inside the bike that may have broke. I’m just wondering if anyone has a...Read more
Hi everyone. A bit repetitive from my intro in GF, but this is the correct section for this post. I’m new to vintage bikes, but I’ve been eyeing a vintage Colnago to restore for a long time. Finally found one and the timing was right to pull the trigger. I’m still trying to identify the exact year, but from my research it’s 1991-1993 Colnago Super PiU. Mostly original, I think, apart from ...Read more
I recently bought a mountain bike with hydraulic brakes. When the brake fluid gets low, more needs to be added. There are a number of tutorials on Youtube, and other places on the internet. They involve bleeding the brakes.. That is having brake fluid flow through the brakes lines, to remove the air. The process is a bit involved. I did it an easier way. I put the funnel in the brake lever, and ...Read more
We bleed hydraulic brakes to remove air from the lines. With car and truck brakes, we only bleed them when they have air in the lines. Is there any benefit in bleeding bicycle brakes, other than removing air from the lines?...Read more
Hi folks. My 2004 or 2005? Specialized stumpjumper FSR elite? Comp? has been very neglected, but recently my situation and lifestyle have changed for the better, and I am trying to get it trail ready. I bought a chain cleaner kit, and I've degreased the rear cogs, and lubed the chain. All of the hardware mentioned is original and stock, and came with my bike. I was hoping the maintenance would sol...Read more
Two weeks ago I bought a new Trek Checkpoint ALR5 bicycle. Bike rides pretty well. It has aluminium frame. I bought it primaraly for bike packing trips as it has ton of mounting points. After riding it for 2 weeks and hitting some easy gravel roads I found two relatively small dents on bicycle's frame. I don't know when I got them. Maybe they are caused by flying rocks from the wheels. Maybe this ...Read more
I apologize in advance if I mix-up some lingo, I have almost no experience in fixing bicycle drivetrain. Previously I had Comet CKM-7159 as crankset (I managed to find this datasheet that seem to describe it pretty good - datasheet) Long story short, pedal track on the left crank got completely destroyed. Since it's two-piece crankset (or I just have not enough muscles to detach left crank from ...Read more
coming at you guys with another newbie question. I noticed the other day while pedaling up hill that I was getting some wheel was rubbing my brakes. I only noticed it when I was really pedaling hard. My bike is a single speed so I have to really get on it when I go up hill. I noticed that my wheels do have a little side to side motion when I apply pressure with my hands. I'm wondering if the wheel...Read more
I inherited an old Schwinn world tourist from my father who has since passed away. Decided to fix it up and make it a little more me. It was completely stock when I bought it. Pretty happy with how it turned out. Upgrades: Single speed conversion 44x17 Tektro 559 brakes with Kool stop pads and 750 levers. Swift Sand canyon 27x 1 3/8 tires Flat bars with vans grips Charge seat PXL_...Read more
I've read other threads and lots of info online, and I'm still stuck. My son is unable to shift the gears on his new 6-gear bike. We tried adjusting the derailer to release some tension and tinkered with adjustments here and there, and nothing seems to be working. Is there anything that we can do? I really want him to be able to shift his own gears. Going uphill today we had to stop several t...Read more
The bolt that feeds into the headset is striped. I have the ability to put the Allen key into the head of the bolt and spin it but it won't come out. I believe the star nut and the bolt are striped from each other. Can anyone help? There is no hexnuts on the stem and the bolt just keeps spinning. I can feel as though there is pressure when I spin it but the bolt does not rise out of the headset w...Read more
Hello, complete newbie here. I have an old 80's Schwinn world tourist. The front wheel has a smaller axel then the rear. Not sure what the size is, I just know it takes a 14mm wrench to remove the front nuts and a 15mm to remove the rear. Does anyone know what size axel the front is? Is it possible to get axel nuts that would fit the smaller front Axel but be 15mm so I can use the same wrench fo...Read more
Sometimes you do something to your bike, and it does not go as planned. Here is a video where somebody shares his experience honestly. Most of us who have worked on bikes, have probably had times when things did not go as planned. These are learning experiences. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSbFBqQdCMU...Read more