important: Nuts and bolts on your bike should always be tightened to the manufacturer's specifications.

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:

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.

Frame Cleaning

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.

Lubrication

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

Check the adjustment of both your headset and bottom bracket to make sure they aren’t loose and spin smoothly.

Brakes

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.

Tightening

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.

Final Adjustments

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.

Test Ride

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.

Related Links

Related Tools

Categories

Discuss this topic in the Bicycle Repairs and Mechanics Forum

I am building a Mongoose MTB for my wife and the front cable pull is on the opposite side of the chain and I am having a hard time finding the right Derailleur for the bike. Any suggestions?...

Read more

Crosspost from Reddit. I have a Cannondale road bike with a BSA bottom bracket (I think; I need the Park Tool BBT-9 to remove them) and a Truvativ Elita 2-piece crankset with splines. I've been having a creaking issue on the right (drive) side for quite a while now. It happens during the bottom 1/3rd of the right-side pedal stroke. There's also a little bit of play on the right side (i.e. I can s...

Read more

Specialized Allez Upgrade

Lastest post 2 days ago

Hello! I have a 2010 Specialized Allez Sport Triple bike and I would like to upgrade to an Ultegra groupset. I am super confused with the different options for derailleur (SS Cage or GS cage/Long cage) and cassette (11-25 or 11-30). If anyone has any input or can help it would be greatly appreciated. This is the bike: Specialized Allez Sport Triple This is the groupset I would like to buy: Ult...

Read more

Here's my repair situation: I have a what seems like a relatively nice road bike which I found for free on the side of the road years ago. Around three years ago, while cycling, there was a stuck link in the chain that caused it to jam. As I was pedaling uphill, the force caused the metal near the mount screw on the rear derailleur to shear. I have recently wanted to repair this bike. Unfortunatel...

Read more

Hey Everyone, New here and I'm currently taking on a small project on converting an old-school Fuji to a SS/Fixed flipflop. Firstly I want to thank you for your time and I'm looking forward to being in this forum as a regular 😁 So im currently having trouble figuring out how to remove the DT Shimano shifters seeing as I don't want to ruin the frame, but do want a nice clean frame look. is the...

Read more

I'm fairly new to bike repair aside from regular maintenance. Lately I've noticed by rear wheel has not been spinning properly--it's a Shimano 105 hub and axle. When I spin it freely on the bike, or when I spin it when the wheel is off, if feels clunky, like the axle is spinning into 'grooves' or 'notches'. I have two videos to show: On bike: https://imgur.com/a/SQX0I3P Off bike: https://imgur.c...

Read more

Ok, so I am not real fluent with bikes, however I am attempting to repair my girlfriends Next PowerClimber 24". The cog that holds the rest of the sprockets on the rear tire is threaded to lock them in place. The cog is cracked and the threads are not holding allowing the rest of the sprockets to fall off. I have attempted to find a place to buy this broken threaded cog with no luck. I am get...

Read more

Bike Chain Falling Off

Lastest post 2 weeks ago

My chain keeps falling off especially when I transition from 1st to 2nd chain ring. I also feel like I have to use a lot more pressure to shift from 1st to 2nd compared to going from 2nd to 3rd, which just might be me but I thought it was relevant to include. I am not super mechanically inclined so I can't diagnose an issue on my bike like this. Can you please tell me whats the issue and maybe how...

Read more

Cassette compatibility question

Lastest post 2 weeks ago

A short questions for those knowledgeable. I currently have on my bike a Shimano HG50-11-36t 10 speed cassette. Would the HG81-11-36t 10 speed be a direct replacement or will I encounter problems?...

Read more

Podcasts with bike mechanics

Lastest post 2 weeks ago

Hello everyone. Are there any podcasts about cycling and more specifically bike mechanics? I have been learning more about bike repairs recently and would love to hear tricks from guys with know-how; need something to listen to during the work....

Read more

Tire and Rim sizes

Lastest post 2 weeks ago

I was looking into wheels, just for the heck of it, and something is confusing me. I have a cruiser. The tires are 26" x 2.125" (57 x 559) The rim is 1.25". Cruiser wheels, online, are 1.75" The difference between a 1.75" cruiser rim, and the 1.25" rims I have, is approximately half-inch. I bought the bike, new, from a bike shop, and bought white wall cruiser tires for it. It had wide tires o...

Read more

Hi folks! I was directed here by the folks over at r/bikewrench as I hear you are a helpful lot! I have a beautiful old Sekine which I think after a little research is a SHC 271 from the mid seventies. Unfortunately I was in a pretty nasty accident last year and it was out of commission for a while. I was using it indoors on my trainer and slowly going about repairs, getting it road ready again wh...

Read more

Is that possible without switching out the hub, and is that possible at all? I have a base shimano groupset and I'm in the process of upgrading everything (I'm switching out the crappy tourney der for altus 9-speed, cables etc), and I would really rather switch out my freewheel for a 9-speeder also. Do you think it's achievable?...

Read more

  20200613_221949.jpg (Size: 64.32 KB / Downloads: 62) Hey everyone. I'm new to working on bikes and have been cleaning mine from using it at college. I replaced the chain since it was very stretched. The new chain was slipping a lot. After searching for why that was happening I concluded that I needed to replace my sprockets. The tool fitting rotates with the sprockets, so I think th...

Read more

Hey everyone! I was led here from reddit and told to try my luck with the fine folks here on bikeride. Let me preface by saying I know I’ve seen a lot of criticism when it comes to converting a MTN bike to a road bike due to a variety of reasons. But that’s not what I’m here to discuss. I am in need of direction. My father passed away a little over 5 years ago and a little over a year ago...

Read more