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.


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.


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.

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

Discuss this topic in the Help Forums

10/19 Noise from rear wheel

I recently started having a clicking noise from the rear axle area of my bike. It is a Schwinn Link (City series).
It doesn't start until riding about 4 miles. It is like tak tak tak and I feel it in the pedals and frame. It has a frequency of about 2 clicks per second. It is like someone is lightly tapping on the rear axle with a piece of metal. It only happens when putting power to the pedals and gets more pronounced the harder I pedal. It comes and goes but after riding a long time stays. If I freewheel I can sometimes get it to go away. This bike has 7 gears on the rear wheel. it is ... Read more >>

10/03 Frame labels on Peugeot

As I start taking measurements of (What I believe is a Peugeot U09 from 1980) for the upcoming "thrift shop fork",
I came across something that I may have posted before, but thought, what the heck,  see if any information on this has changed.....

Believe it or not, the original Paper Tag on the bottom of the frame by the crank, is still there and legible!!!

On the Paper tag is the following:     5286275 038157

It also has a number stamped of the flange for the rear axle.

On the metal frame is stamped:  B0018618

...

10/01 Yet another clicking thread (with pics and vids)

I have just acquired a Cervelo Soloist 2006, has the Ultegra 6600 groupset. It was making a clickity grinding sound whenever I'm on the larger 2 or 3 sprockets (doesn't matter which chainring) when I'm pedalling hard and fast.

Anyways, took my crank, chain rings, and bottom bracket off to clean, inspect, regrease and retorque. Greased my new pedals and torqued them on. Adjusted my front derailleur and rear derailleur (have adjusted the B screw as well to give plenty of slack). Still no good. I've even fully slackened the lower limit on the FD so there's plenty clearance left and r... Read more >>

09/25 Venting against Mayflower

We moved from Chicagoland to Mountains of NC in July....

My 1980 Peugeot U09 front Derailleur got  bent way out of shape by the movers...

Knowing the availability of 1980 era French Simplex parts, I had a day while I awaited the remaining furniture, and I took the Front derailleur apart, carefully straightened the metalwork  on a flat metal vise to the point where (I felt) it was back to "normal", and put it back together and adjusted it.... and in about 8 hours, it actually worked!!   Tested it with 15min ride... Seems OK... 

I eventually had to pu...

09/13 Cracked frame

Hi folks,
It is with heavy heart I come to you today. I swapped some wheels from a bike my daughter and I bought. Cleand up the DAc50's to put on the bike. Decided to give her Spec Ruby a real good clean before I put the wheels on. It's a good thing I did. See she had a crash about 2 weeks ago and destroyed her front rim. I had a rag with a light degreaser on it and wiped over the top tube where it revealed a rather good sized crack at the head tube. Took it to the LBS I trust and they confirmed it is a crack.

Have done some checking around and found some repair options.... Read more >>

09/11 What are those threaded holes for :|?

Can someone explain me what those holes are made for?
they are on the both sides, dimensions as shown in the pictures...

[Image: so4pwy.jpg]

[Image: wtj5n9.jpg]

[Image: xfan9w.jpg]

Thanks!!...

08/07 Tools needed to re-assemble Giant Cypress bike

Hi everyone. I am new here and to cycling in general. I got myself a Giant Cypress (2013, I believe) bike in Arizona. After two years, I needed to move to Atlanta, GA so I had my friendly local bike shop box up my bike and had it shipped away. Here in Atlanta, I don't have a car yet and the days are pretty hectic so I haven't had the time to hit up a local bike shop to have my bike re-assembled.

I'd like to do it myself if possible and I'd like to know what tools are needed to re-assemble the bike? I currently have an adjustable wrench, a hex wrench set, and all sorts of Ph... Read more >>

08/06 '78 Schwinn Caliente rebuild

Recently received this bike from the parents since I moved into the city. I tried to take it to a local bike shop but they said it was better to just buy a new bike instead of trying to update.

Sorry to sound repetitive but I am new to bicycling and have no idea what I am doing. I am willing to learn and I have patience. Yes, I understand that I could more than likely get a bike on Craigslist in running order for the same price for what I'm going to put into this project. I want to be able to ride something that I have built up with my own hands. Anyways onto the bike.


07/18 Bike Repair Help for Novice

Hi guys, So my housemates for my birthday decided to buy me a bike as my work is quite far and buses and owning a car are far too expensive for me. However it is very much a bike bought on a student budget and needs some fine tuning and I was wondering if you could help me. I am a complete novice at everything bicycle related and am posting on here to see if I could fix these issues instead of taking it to Halfords and having to pay quite a bit for the repairs.

I have been browsing around this website for a while and there are a few threads which seem to be talking about what I n... Read more >>

07/09 Been Away for a while.... Update on Overhauls

Been away for a while.... But wanted to post that the assistance You Folks gave on the Overhaul-ing of the ~1980 Peugeot U09 and ~1970 Gitane Gran Sport Mixte is a resounding 100% Success story!

Bar and Seat repositioning made the posture and comfort level increase;
New cables and improved brake pads made it stop better;
New bearings and seats made it roll better!
Cleaning/Adusting/New cables for Derailleurs and sprockets made it work correctly, and improved cosmetic appearance, too!   I did have to epoxy glue the plastic front Derailleur mount on Gitane, as i... Read more >>

07/07 Loud clicking noise when peddling uphill in larger gears

Hi everyone! I have a problem which I can't seem to figure out.  Recently my rear-gears have been making a VERY loud clicking sound every rotation of the peddle. This only happens when I am in one of the 6 (out of 8) larger gears in the rear, AND I am going uphill and putting a decent amount of force on the peddles. All other times everything is smooth.

So I put my bike upside down, checked to make sure nothing was loose, and tried manually rotating the peddles with my hands in these larger gears.  Nothing, it doesn't make a sound, and everything looks un-bent.

Now...

06/16 Bike Rides Harsh An Crash'y

Hi all,

I am looking for some inspiration really which way to take this either to continue or scrap this in favour of a 29er.

I have a bike that I have cobbled together over a period of time it used to be a kona cindercone frame I upgraded the front forks to sid's thinking it would make it ride a lot nicer and it still crashes over everything like it a rigid.

I was offered a nice Cube Reaction GTC pro carbon frame so I got it and it still rides harshly, I done some research to find that sid's even when at the specific weight setting run hard so I now run ... Read more >>

06/16 Books/videos

I'm new here so please forgive the dumb questions I will eventually
ask. Is there anything definitive available on changing out complete
groupsets. I see some things but was hoping for something that
would include info on the tools needed to complete a project.
Randy...

06/08 Fitting my girlfriend on a mountain bike

I'm having trouble trying to adjust my mountain bike to my girlfriend's size since she is 5,1 and I am 5,7 inches what can I do to make it where she can ride it and it's a 24x1.95 in set of tires... Read more >>

05/21 Repair after vandalism

Hi everyone, I recently had someone vandalize my bike. Not sure if they were trying to steal it or not, but it did get damaged. I want to repair it myself, as I don't think it would be too complicated. Just wanted some help with the part names.

First, the part that keeps the handlebars on the bike is missing - any suggestions as to what that part is called and where I can find a suitable replacement?

Also, the cables to the gear shift was also damaged. The thumb shifter itself is in one piece, just the cables were damaged. I think the brake cables are also damaged. ... Read more >>

New Thread
How to Tune Up Your Bike
Repair Guide / Help Forums

Free Email Updates: