Bike Tune up: What Is Included?

This how-to article takes you through the process of performing a bike tune-up.
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Last updatedLast updated: April 01, 2022
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A bike tune-up is crucial if you want to keep it in good shape. How often to tune up a bike? Whether it is a DIY bike tune-up or a tune-up done at a pro bike shop, it should be done at least annually. Most people do a tune-up in the spring after the bike has been sitting in a garage or storage all winter. Some people prefer to do it themselves because according to Hobby Biker Trusted Source Average Cost of a Bike Tune-Up: And What is Included – Hobby Biker Whether you have a Road Bike, Mountain Bike or Hybrid, we all know they require regular and seasonal maintenance to ride properly. hobbybiker.com the cost is anywhere between $60 and $100 and even more if you take it back to a store where you bought it. Tuning your bike at a shop can also take as long as a month then if you just do it yourself, especially If it is a special hybrid mountain bike tune-up and the bike needs a part replaced. Most people can tune up their bikes in less than an hour, especially if they have the right tools on hand.

What Is a Bike Tune Up?

Bike Tune up: What Is Included?

A tune-up can be a terrific opportunity to upgrade components on your bike, or to modify its fit or functionality to your current needs.

What is a bike tune-up? Quite simply, it is the regular mechanical maintenance of your bicycle that is necessary to keep you safe on the road and extend the life of your bicycle overall. Some bikes, like road bikes, are high-performance and may need more maintenance, and that might also be the case with older bikes. One of the main reasons to get a bike tune-up is to fix problems before they become expensive or even catastrophic. For instance, if you take your bike out for that first ride in the spring without checking the brakes to see if they work, you could end up skidding through an intersection or being hit by a car. Part of a bike tune-up is also giving your bike chain and gears a few swipes with degreasers to unclog them and then a thorough washing. Every part of the bike should be checked to make sure that all nuts and bolts are secure and that the wheels and the seat are true and not wobbly.

Tools You’ll Need

Before you start your bike tune-up, you might want to consider getting a few tools to make the entire process a little easier and, dare we say, almost professional. There are only three necessary tools that you need to set up your home bike workshop: a bike stand, a multitool, and a tire pump.  You might also need dish soap for washing the bike, a torque wrench, degreaser, and bike lube for your chains and gears.

Your number one priority should be to stop trying to fix your bike with it balanced on a kickstand and get a bike stand,  it can be done, but it is very awkward to work on a bike without a bike stand. A bike stand allows you to perch your bicycle upside down so that you can work on the gears and pump up the tires easily. Consumer reviews approve of the affordable CXWXC Bike Repair Stand, which is rotatable, light (because it is made of aluminum), and has a tool tray with magnets, so your screws and bolts don’t roll everywhere.

A great foldable multitool to have in your workshop and take on a bike trip with you is the Mossy Oak Multitool, an awesome 21 tools in one including needle-nose pliers, regular pliers, etc., wire cutters, knife, saw, and more. It also comes with its own sleeve for screwdrivers. If you own a mountain bike, though, you might also want to invest in a good torque wrench as mountain bikes tend to have a lot of structurally supportive nuts and bolts to secure.

There are many different types of bicycle pumps on the market. You don’t have to buy an expensive one, just make sure that it fits the valve type on your wheel frame. There are only two standard valve pumps for tubeless tires: a Shrader valve and a Presta valve.  Innertube valves are called Wood valves and have an entirely different structure than the outer valves like Shrader and Presta. The self-help site for cyclists, Bike Collectives Trusted Source Tube Valves - Bike Collectives Wiki There are two types of valves which you will frequently encounter on bicycles at the co-op. www.bikecollectives.org  has some great DIY information about inflating your tires with tube valves. 

What Does a Bike Tune Up Include?

What does a bike tune-up include? Whether  it be done by you or by a bike shop service, the bike tune-up should include:

  • Adjusting and testing brakes, gears, and cables 
  • Checking the tire pressure (and inflating flat tires
  • Lubricating and testing the drive chain
  • Truing the bike wheel  to make sure it is not wobbly; read a great article Trusted Source How to True a Bike Wheel | A Guide to Truing Bike Wheels With a little practice, you can add this useful skill to your home-mechanic repertoire. www.bicycling.com about fixing wobbly wheels 
  • Tighten the bike headset, which is the interface between the fork of the handles to the neck of the bike frame
  • Cleaning and degreasing the entire bike
  • Lubrication of moving parts
  • Check and tighten all bolts and screws

Each bike tune-up should conclude with a Safety check and short test ride to make sure that the seat is the right height, brakes function, wheels are true, etc.

Cleaning the Bike

Bike Tune up: What Is Included?

All you need is a brush, dry cloth, and soap.

How you clean your bike is going to depend on what type of bike it is and how you use it. For most bikes, all you have to do is place it on your bike stand and then wash it down with a cloth saturated with warm soapy water. You can use a bike-specific cleaner or ordinary dish detergent. Be sure to lather every part of the bike before rinsing the bike clean with a hose and then letting it drip dry. Then use a bike-specific degreaser of the entire drivetrain uses a soft-bristled brush to rub it clean. You can then polish your bike with a dry cloth. Rub a bit of glass cleaner on the handlebars, bell, and other shiny parts to make your bike gleam in the sun.

A mountain bike can be a bit trickier to clean as they have no fenders and are meant to be ridden in any weather through rough trails. Before it clogs up the brakes and gears, clumps of dirt and mud should be removed from the mountain bike. You can do this by rotating the pedals once the bike is on the stand but watch out for flinging mud balls. After you have eliminated the bigger clumps of mud, which may also involve using a scraper, then you should try and wash the whole mountain bike twice. This article provides you with a concise guide that shows you how to clean a really dirty mountain bike. Wear thick gloves because a lot of the exposed parts of the mountain bike, such as the chainring, can cut you. 

Checking the Gears and Breaks

Bike Tune up: What Is Included?

The gears and derailleurs are checked for damage and alignment.

If there is something wrong with your front or rear derailer or both derailers, you need to read this article about derailleurs so that you can fix the problem., Flawed derailers cause your bike chain to stall when it comes to starting or stopping your bike or moving up an incline, and if they don’t work smoothly to shift from one gear to another, your bike could stop short, and you could have a bad accident.   

Sometimes your bike breaks down in the middle of nowhere, and you have to remove a bike chain without any tools. If this should happen to you, this article details how to remove a bike chain without tools. It’s all about finding the master screw that holds the chain together, removing it, and straightening the chain out by stretching it across the metal teeth of the bike gears. Your hands might get kind of greasy, but the problem will be fixed. Once you are home, you should then clean and lubricate the drive chain

Cleaning and Lubricating the Drivechain

Bike Tune up: What Is Included?

The drivechain is checked for stretching or kinking.

You should use a degreaser to clean your entire drivetrain, including the cassette, derailleurs, chain, and chainrings. Bike degreasers come in a spray can and work by foaming the grease on your bike components away. Avoid spraying the degreaser on brake parts like the brake calipers or brake pads, or you could end up with some loud squeaking every time you stop. Once the degreaser has done its job, you should apply a lubricant to your bike gears and the chain. Different types of lube are available depending on what type of bike you own. Once the lube has been applied, backpedal the bike for a couple of minutes to make sure that it is working smoothly and wipe away any excess lubricant with a rag.

Tightening Everything up

Make sure that all the nuts and bolts that are holding your bike together are secure. Even a very tight bolt can become loose over time just from the wear-and-tear of using the bike. Use a torque wrench to check every that every bolt on the bike is secure, including the bolts on the pedals, handlebars, and seat post. However, don’t overtighten the bolts as this could strip the threads on the bolt and cause them to need to be replaced.

Final thoughts 

You can set up your bicycle tune-up station at home by buying a bike stand, a good multitool, a torque wrench, a sturdy bike pump, bike degreaser, and bike lubricant. Do this if you live in a place with very sloppy weather or like to traverse muddy trails that muck up your bike. Riding on bumpy roads can cause vibrations that can also loosen your bike screws, so you should check them over. Doing your own bike tune-up can be a good idea if you are on a tight budget, but if you have a high-performance bike or ones with unique components, such as a floating seat on a mountain bike, you might need to splurge every now and then and get a checkup o from a pro bike shop or at a pro shop recommended by your bike’s manufacturer. In addition, check your bike’s warranty as some big companies like Giant will provide you with a bike tune-up at the retailer for the first year.

References

1.
Average Cost of a Bike Tune-Up: And What is Included – Hobby Biker
Whether you have a Road Bike, Mountain Bike or Hybrid, we all know they require regular and seasonal maintenance to ride properly.
2.
Tube Valves - Bike Collectives Wiki
There are two types of valves which you will frequently encounter on bicycles at the co-op.
3.
How to True a Bike Wheel | A Guide to Truing Bike Wheels
With a little practice, you can add this useful skill to your home-mechanic repertoire.
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