25. 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.

IMPORTANT: Nuts and bolts on your bike should always be tightened to the manufacturer's specifications.
How to Tune Up Your Bike
DVD Vol. 1 DVD Volume 1
This video is available on DVD

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.

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Discuss this topic in the Help Forums

02/23 Refurb help for a newbie

Hello all. I am riding around on a 10-12 year old Schwinn Voyageur. In the past i have taken the bike to a shop whenever I need to tune it up and have any work done. Circumstances have changed and I can't really afford to pay anyone to work on things that I should be able to learn how to do.

I've ridden bikes all my life, but have never had to learn how to repair or maintain one. I don't own any tools other than a few basics like a hammer or a screwdriver.

From what I can tell, my bike is in desperate need of a new chain. Also a good number of the gear sprockets that... Read more >>

02/14 What is wrong with my bike?

Could someone help me out? I recently purchased a new single speed bike sprocket. I put it on my bike and I had to make the chain smaller. Anyways I got everything put together and its as if the bike doesn't have enough tension when you pedal. like when you pedal it feels like the chain isn't even on. the cranks spin almost to freely.... Read more >>

01/21 My Huffy Superia

I have a Huffy Superia and it is kind of messed up right now with the parts on it currently. Is there any way I can get good parts on it and make it a better bike? I know there's some people that find this bike kind of rip off but I love mine, I just need to put good parts on it. Here is a listing of the parts that are on it right now: For the thumb shifters they are Power (same as derailleur which is a Power Index System) a Power model front derailleur or chain guard whatever you call it, and 26 inch wheels. I don't know if the piece over the front crank is called the chain guard or front mou... Read more >>

01/21 How Do You Tell if a bike is from retail or actual bike shop

I know some bikes come from retails like Walmart, and some others from quality shops. But my question is how do you tell one bike is from retail? And how do you tell if the other is from a bike shop? I also read a few months ago these two different buying choices have slight differences in its quality. Is that true?... Read more >>

01/20 Squeak

I have a squeak that seems to occur on every third rotation only when I'm applying real pressure such as climbing or accelerating hard. Seems to be from the rear but hard to tell. Had the bike (2014 Tarmac w/ultegra)serviced and it was quiet for about 100 miles and now the squeak has returned. Any ideas? Thanks!... Read more >>

01/14 Back peddling grinding noise

What's failing?
Under power I don't hear or feel anything unusual
But if I rotate the crank backwards I feel roughness and more noise than I believe is normal
I ride frequently with a headset on and haven't noticed this noise until a recent ride without the headset on
Back peddling isn't something I'm conscience of doing either until I first noticed that something is amiss

Can someone tell me what's failing?

Ive taken the rear wheel of and spun in both direction but can not detect anything unusual but maybe it needs weight on the wheel?
I... Read more >>

01/03 Cold weather malfunction

As soon as it hits around 10 or below my bike will "skip" when I pedal. I have an all city nature boy. I got it last spring. I have put a good 1000 miles at lease on it since may.
It pedals fine until I coase for even just a second. Then when I pedal, it just spins and spins. I have to stop completely and it will catch again. It is a single speed so there is no other gear to "jump" to. It is a pain in the butt when I ride 6+ miles a day. When its 20 degrees out it will not do it. Only when its very cold. With the coldest part of the season upon me, I need to figure this out.
I ca... Read more >>

12/21 Specialized StumpJumper for Repair - Experiment

Hello everyone,

I was wondering if you wanted to help me with a project that may be more than I can chew; I bought a specialized stumpjumper recently at auction blindly - that's to say I didn't take a look at the mofo before I bid. Suffice it to say I won it for around £125 and now I have it.

It's condition is..interesting. Interesting in the same way that an ancient temple is interesting - fascinating to look at but it's seen better days.

Over the next couple of months I want to get it looking spic and span but here's the thing... I don't know a spoke f... Read more >>

12/18 Motocobene Owner's Manual

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Anybody know where to download one?... Read more >>

12/11 Trek zx 7000

Hi everyone! Iam new to the site and my current bike project is a trek zx 7000 not sure the year of the bike as got it second hand.

If someone could help me with the stage iam at in stripping the bike down to the frame itself or direct me to the correct place to get the help needed thanks!

(the pictures include; the bike as I bought it minus the back wheel which was out of shot, chain and then centre piece which I dont know how to get off and the forks which Iam not sure if still ok to keep).... Read more >>

11/15 What is this 103 decal referring to?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/0390-Peugeot-Bicycle-Frame-Tubing-Decals-HLE-103-Carbolite-Choice-Of-6-/230856709285?pt=UK_sportsleisure_cycling_bikeparts_SR&var=&hash=item35c021d4a5

Please look at #5 in the link.... It's what I found on the fork while cleaning the bike tonight.... It's been there all this time... I just now 'discovered' it...

I did a brief s... Read more >>

11/10 New information seeker

My name is Tom. I live in Sudbury, Ontario and I am retired. I purchased a 1985 Miyata 110 in good condition and over the winter I would like to put the bike in almost new condition. I am here to get help on problems that I come across in my project.... Read more >>

10/31 Does it make any difference if they are FREE?

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I've been debating asking this in open forum, because I don't have any background in this sort of thing...... and it seems this subject can become a potential Hot Topic I've seen on multiple threads..

My Question is about the use of Loose Ceramic Ball Bearings....... In an old Peugeot Road Bike, in Axles, Crank, and Pedals.

Not: "Will I feel anything?"
Not: "Are they better?"
Not: "Is the expense worth it?"

But: "If they are Given to me FREE, are Ce... Read more >>

10/19 First time rebuild

Hello All,
My 2006 Trek 4300 went swimming during hurricane Sandy and many of the components have seized up. The frame is in good shape, but everything else is shot, so I would like to pretty much tear it down an replace every component. I have no doubt that a complete overhaul will easily cost double the bike's value and I have no problem with that. My issue is: I cannot find info regarding what replacement components will fit the bike nor can I find a service manual. Any assistance will be most appreciated.

Regards,
John

[attachment=5411]... Read more >>

10/14 Refurb assistance needed!

Newbie here to the forum, but I've diddled around with bicycles since clothes-pinning a playing card to flap the spokes, and that was a long time ago. I'm not specifically a bike nerd or wrencher, except, perhaps, when I need to be. I have tons of experience working with all sorts of materials, machines, and processes, plenty of which translate to things bikes need done to them, so can contribute things to this community from that vantage point...

What brings me to this forum is that I accepted a project from a friend to refurbish his son's KMart quality, 16" mini-BMX bike, so ... Read more >>

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