Biking is a great way to get around, stay fit, and enjoy the outdoors. But like all machines, bikes need occasional tune-ups to run smoothly and prevent expensive repairs. So how often should you tune up your bike? This guide will help you figure out what needs checking and when.
Let’s find out!
How do I know if my bike needs a tune-up?
It’s essential to keep your bike in good working condition to prevent expensive repairs down the road. A tune-up typically includes adjusting the brakes and gears, lubing the chain, and inflating the tires.
If your bike isn’t shifting gears smoothly or the chain is skipping, it’s probably time for a tune-up. Brakes that squeal or feel less responsive than usual also indicate the time for some maintenance.
Of course, you can always bring your bike into the shop for a professional inspection. The mechanic will be able to tell you precisely what needs to be done to get your bike back into top condition.
Read more: How Much Does a Bike Fit Cost
How often should a bike be serviced?
You should tune up your bike at least once a year or more if you frequently ride in dusty or wet conditions. New bikes typically don’t need a tune-up for the first few months, but getting one as soon as you notice any problems is good.
Be sure to clean your bike regularly to prevent dirt and grime from building up and causing premature wear and tear. A clean bike is also easier to inspect for potential problems.
If you don’t often ride or keep your bike well-maintained, you may be able to go longer between tune-ups. But if you notice any issues, it’s better to bring it in for service sooner rather than later.
Regular tune-ups keep your bike running smoothly and prevent turning small problems into significant, expensive repairs.
What does a full bike tune-up include?
A complete bike tune-up will thoroughly clean the drivetrain, brakes, and other components. The mechanic will adjust the gears and brakes, inflate the tires, and lube the chain.
Depending on the condition of your bike, the mechanic may also recommend additional services such as truing the wheels or replacing worn-out parts.
How to tune up your bike at home
If you’re comfortable working on your bike, you can do some basic maintenance at home. This includes cleaning the drivetrain, lubing the chain, and inflating the tires.
You can adjust the brakes and gears, although it’s best to leave more complicated repairs to a professional.
Here are a few simple tune-up tasks you can make at home:
We recommend using a bike repair stand, but if you don’t have one, that’s fine.
Cleaning the drivetrain
The drivetrain consists of the chain, cassette, derailleurs, and crankset. Keeping this area clean is essential to prevent corrosion and premature wear.
Start by shifting the bike into its highest gear, so the chain is tight. Then, use a brush or rag to wipe away dirt or grime from the chain, cassette, and derailleurs.
Next, apply a bike-specific degreaser to the chain and pedals. Use an old toothbrush to work the degreaser into all the nooks and crannies.
Once the degreaser has had a chance to soak in, rinse it with water. Then, dry the drivetrain with a clean rag.
Lubing the chain
Once the drivetrain is clean, it’s time to lubricate the chain. This will help prevent rust and keep the chain running smoothly.
Start by shifting the bike into its highest gear so the chain is tight. Then, apply a small amount of bike-specific lubricant to the chain.
Use your fingers to work the lubricant into all the links. Then, wipe off any excess with a clean rag.
Inflating the tires
It’s essential to keep your tires properly inflated to prevent flats and improve handling. Use a bike pump or air compressor to inflate the tires to the recommended pressure.
You can find this information on the side of the tire or in the owner’s manual.
Adjusting the brakes
If your brakes are squealing or feel less responsive than usual, they probably need to be adjusted. This is a relatively simple process, but it’s best to leave it to a professional if you’re uncomfortable working on your bike.
To adjust the brakes, start by loosening the brake pads. Then, use an Allen key to tighten or loosen the brake cable until the pads are touching the rim but not rubbing.
Finally, tighten the brake pads, so they don’t move when applying pressure to the levers.
Read more: Hydraulic vs. Mechanical Disc Brakes
Adjusting the gears
If your bike has trouble shifting or the gears feel sloppy, they probably need to be adjusted. Start by cleaning the drivetrain (see above) to remove any dirt or grime interfering with the gears.
Then, use an Allen key to tighten or loosen the derailleur cables until the gears shift smoothly.
You should tune up your bike at least once every year, preferably just before starting the cycling season. If your bike is brand new, you can expect at least a few years without tune-ups.
Recommended Reads on Bike Maintenance
How to Remove Rust From Your Bike and Keep it Off – Learn how to clean your bike from rust and keep it off in the future.