Bike Tune-Ups

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 13, 2007 11:29 PM GMT
    Wow, people on here seem to know ALL about cycling. Or at least all about other people shaving their legs. So what about the bike itself?

    I used to pay to get my bike "tuned up" every spring. They'd put in new bearings, new cables, chain, re-tape everything, re-tension the spokes, etc. And charge an unbelievable amount of cash. But I haven't done that for years now, and don't really notice any difference. I just lube and re-tape things when they seem to need it. Of course, I don't ride as much as I used to either.

    What is really important to "tune" on a bike each spring? Do you pay for it, or do it yourself?
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    Feb 14, 2007 1:53 AM GMT
    Sounds like overkill to me. Unless you are putting on tons of miles or biking thu water or major muck. But it depends on the bike. I had a really light Bianchi that I rode in the city that needed spoke adjustments almost everytime I took it out. With my Giant Mt. Bike I clean and regrease the chain, adjust the derailuer, oil cables, check and adjust brakes on a regular basis. I generally trash a wheel or crank before I change out bearings. I think guys should work on their machines.
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    Feb 14, 2007 5:12 AM GMT
    Bike tune-ups are like changeing the oil on your car: sure you can do it, but would you really want to? I take my and my partner's bikes in once a year for a proper tune-up and do the rest of the adjustments as needed. I do the tune-up just before our Summer Triathlon, so I cannot be held responsible for equipment failure!!!
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    Feb 14, 2007 6:24 AM GMT
    Yeah, it seems that what they are doing is majorly overkill. While if you do want to do all those things every year, it's up to you, but most of that stuff you can do on your own. Truing the wheels is always a bit tough though, so if you're not all that experienced at that, I'd still get that done by a pro. Putting on a new chain is simple, the cables are a bit trickier, and the tape is pretty easy. Really you don't need the chain changed as long as you clean it thoroughly before you put it away for the winter. It also depends on the bike, like someone elsesaid. Road bikes are more touchy and higher maintenence, whereas mountain bikes are a bit tougher and can take more of a beating.
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    Feb 14, 2007 2:06 PM GMT
    Agree with others here that the tune up you used to have done is a bit overkill. Just need a basic tune up in the spring and should be able to sail through the season. Sounds like you need to shop around for a bike shop that isn't trying to run like a car dealership. Cheers.
  • art_smass

    Posts: 960

    Feb 14, 2007 4:41 PM GMT
    I'm sort of useless when it comes to stuff like that (well, cars especially), but I've been taking care of my own bikes since I was a kid. I learned everything I know just by observing the mechanisms. I fix all the spin bikes at my gym, too, because they're relatively uncomplicated. It's something I wouldn't pay for, and you probably don't have to, either. Plus, I agree with the others who think what you're doing might be a little overkill.
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    Feb 14, 2007 9:41 PM GMT
    It depends on what you do with your bike. Worn or bad brake adjustments could cost you your life. A worn chain will break or slip causing injury. Most bikes are easy to service. If you don't know how get a bike maintenance book or look on the web! I only ever take in my bike when expensive specialist tools are required. Shops will always be expensive, they have shop rents and wages pay after all. If you buy parts from them they will probably give you hints on how to fit them.
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    Feb 18, 2007 5:59 PM GMT
    You can tell just by glancing whether your spokes really need the retensioning -- is the wheel out of true? Is it at all oval-shaped?

    Same with bearings, I would think -- if the crankshaft rotates smoothly and silently, the bearings are in there doing their job. If water gets in and washes out the grease or dirt gets in and grimes it up, you'll start to feel more friction and hear more noise. Sure, have them taken out and repacked if that happens.

    Cleaning your bike, chain, gears, and relubing the chain and all are really very straightforward. Bucket of soapy water and a sponge, bottle of degreaser and a brush for the gears and chain. You do want to avoid spraying the hose directly at the bike with any kind of serious pressure, since that can get water in the casings and mess up your bearings. I've always read the recommendation that you let water run downwards over the bike, like rain water, to rinse it.

    I haven't had my brakes replaced since I lived in San Francisco, and I lived near Valencia Cyclery who would install brake pads for like $8 labor so it was clearly worth the money since it takes me an hour of fiddling to get them just right. You can visually tell if your brake pads are worn too low, and that may be something worth paying shop prices for replacement.

    Tuning up your derailleurs isn't hard either. A couple screws you can turn to adjust scale & bias, and beyond that, fiddling with the cable lengths and there are also the screw-caps on the cable sheathing to make very fine adjustments.

    I take my bike in for a shop tune-up every, I dunno, 2000 miles or so? Even then I'm pretty sure they're not repacking bearings or anything.
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    Feb 27, 2007 1:06 AM GMT
    sounds to me like your being taken for a ride, assuming they are actually replacing the bearings and what they say they are..
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    Mar 17, 2007 9:37 PM GMT
    It might be worth mentioning that I learned the hard way how critical it is to oil those shimano clipless pedals after riding in the rain.

    Few things are more entertaining to tactless yokels than an intrepid cyclist who pulls up to a stop sign, then discovers - too late - that he can't unlock his feet from the pedals.
  • roadbike

    Posts: 96

    Jan 11, 2008 6:39 AM GMT
    I ride about 300 - 400 miles per month. The 2 most important things to make your ride great are:

    1. tire pressure
    2. a clean and lubed drivetrain

    I have a good quality floor pump and pump my tires to 120 psi at least once per week. That's the easy part.

    The chain is one of those things that you get out of it what you put into it. You should clean and lubricate it every 100 miles to minimize friction that will slow you down and cause unnecessary wear. I use ProLink chain lube. Start by wiping your chain as clean as you can get it with an old rag or strong paper towel. Next, fold a clean paper towel into fourths. Position the towel under the chain links where you will apply the lube so the lube doesn't drip onto your rim and tire. Apply the lube to each link being certain that you get enough lube on the link to penetrate all inside surfaces. Once you've lubed the entire chain, turn the crank gently for about 20 - 30 seconds. Now tighten your grip on the chain with the towel and turn the crank. This will wipe off the excess lube.

    Every third or fourth time that I lube, I perform a major service on the chain that renders it in pristine condition. This is especially critical before a long ride and will take 2 hours of your time and will need to be done outdoors. I remove the chain and soak it in orange solvent or gas for about 15 - 30 minutes to remove all the grunge, grit, and grime. I have a Sram quick link ($10) in my chain that allows me to remove the chain with just a flick of my wrist. I use a plastic container with a lid so I can swish the gas and get all the gunk off. Remove the chain from the solvent and wipe with a paper towel or rag. Be sure to get it really dry, especially the inside of the links. You may need to lay it on some newspaper for an hour or so after you wipe it to be sure that all the gas / solvent has evaporated. Be sure to remove any grease that you can see.

    While your chain is drying, remove the back wheel from your bike. You now want to clean any grease, dirt, and grime from the rear derailleur. If you keep up on this, a rag will do the job; if not, use some orange solvent (sold at bike stores). You want to be sure to meticulously clean the derailleur pulleys. Notice all the grease that cakes on them? Make all those parts as clean as you can get them.

    Next, clean the front chain rings and the rear cassette. You want to remove all grunge, grease, and grime. I use an old rag and get in between the chain rings on the rear cassette. It's tedious, but well worth it for the performance.

    Your chain will look brand new. Now lube it as described above. You will not believe the difference a clean and lubed chain makes. I replace my chain with a Shiman Dura Ace chain ($55) every 1,000 miles. The chain will stretch and wear your chainrings and rear cassette if allowed to wear excessively.

    Bike shops charge for tune ups and replace cables and adjust them and the brakes. They check how the gears change to be sure that they are in adjustment. Trust me, no bike shop will clean your chain, chainrings, rear cassette, and deraillerus as I've described above. The tune up won't make you go faster; fanatically cleaning and properly lubricating the chain will optimize your performance by minimizing the friction. You will feel your bike glide down the road. Enjoy your ride!