Login | November 26, 2020

Time for a bicycle tune up

Pete’s World

Published: November 16, 2020

My dad always told me: “Take care of your stuff son.” And that’s a piece of advice I’ve tried to live by ever since I first heard him utter it in the way back when I was a pup.
Take those bicycles for instance, which can go to hell in a hand basket pretty fast if you don’t implement a regular maintenance program - the same kind of maintenance program you employ with your car.
And at the very least you need to have one tune-up/overhaul per year for that two-wheeled rig. But contrary to what you might think, this annual maintenance check shouldn’t take place on the first nice weekend of spring…when you’re all jazzed up and itching to ride.
Nope, the best time to get that bike tuned up is at the end of a cycling season, round about the onset of winter, shortly after your bike(s) have experienced all of that wear and tear. And this is especially important when we’re talking about critical moving parts like the drive train - bottom bracket, chain rings, cogs and chain - where old chain lube, grease, grit and grime can get pretty gummed up and crusty if left unattended throughout the course of those long, dormant winter months.
Not only that but you’ve also got to consider all the garbage and gunk coating other parts, despite your fastidiousness about cleaning your bike. A great cleaning job still isn’t going to get bearings, races, cups, cables, etc., clean and dry unless you actually disassemble those components and clean them separately.
Point: Bicycle parts can degrade when sitting dormant and coated with micro amounts of corrosive substances.
So for you regular cyclists, the first step in a good bike maintenance program is to get that rig to your bicycle mechanic at the end of the cycling season instead of in the beginning of the following cycling season.
Now on the other end of this spring/fall bike maintenance issue are those folks - usually casual riders - who ride their bicycles year in and year out in the absence of any regular maintenance schedule. If that’s you, here’s a few things you just might want to consider.
A bike's performance is contingent on all of those moving parts working together in harmony, and if simple little problems aren't caught early they can escalate into much bigger problems, problems that can be both expensive to fix and/or dangerous to your well-being.
Casual riders sometimes reason that their low yearly mileage doesn’t justify an annual trip to the bike shop. Truth be told, you don’t have to be grinding out big yearly mileage to have parts wear out or fail. Early warning signs of component failure/excessive wear can sometimes be so subtle as to remain completely incognito. I’m talking here about worn out brake pads, loose hubs, headset, and/or bottom bracket, cracked rims and/or handlebar, dry rotted tires, etc., etc.
You just never know. So it’s critical to have a professional safety check that bike - if only for piece of mind.
Okay, so what exactly should any cyclist expect when having a bike tuned up?
First, know that the verbiage can vary from shop to shop as to exactly what a bicycle tune-up entails, and there’s usually a selection of differently priced tune-up packages available. Sometimes these packages can be based upon the type of bicycle you ride (mountain, BMX, road, X, fat tire, etc.), and other times these packages can be based upon the degree to which you want your rig serviced.
I’d venture to guess though that most shops offer some type of a basic tune-up package which entails the following: Adjust brakes, headset, cranks, and hubs; Clean and degrease chain; Adjust and lubricate derailleurs; Lubricate chain and brakes; True wheels; Safety inspection; Tighten all nuts and bolts; Check tire pressure; and Wipe down.
Furthermore, know that this basic tune-up package takes care of minor adjustments. The more comprehensive tune-up, what I like to call the overhaul, is a more expensive package where the entire bike is disassembled and build back up again - and in this instance there may be the need for replacement parts.
No matter what kind of rider you are, from serious to casual, take good care of that bike. That way you’ll rest easy on those rides knowing that your rig will take good care of you.