Thursday, May 14, 2015

Bike Tune-up Checklist Reference

When a friend wants you to look over his or her bicycle so they can get riding again, what do you look for? Online and in books I've seen some regular maintenance schedules and daily pre-ride checks, but what about initial evaluation of an unknown bike? I've combined the best info I could find along with my personal experience tuning up bikes for friends and family to create this handy checklist!

Obviously pages could be written about each of the items on this list, and indeed they have been in a variety of books and web sites. My favorite online reference is Sheldon Brown's site, and for a more organized and comprehensive physical book, I use The Bicycling Guide to Complete Bicycle Maintenance & Repair (according to reviews, don't buy the ebook version). This book got me started in bike maintenance so it holds a special place in my heart, but has still stood the test of time.

The work listed here would typically cost $75-150 at a Chicago bike shop, so learning to do it yourself definitely pays off.

Initial evaluation and tune-up of a bike with unknown history:

  • Overall clean—wipe down everything with a damp rag (water and/or cleaner/degreaser)
  • Frame—Check for cracks or anything bent out of shape
  • Wheels
    • Tires at correct pressure (see my tricks for successful use of patch kits)
    • Check tires for splits/cracks, check glue on tubulars
    • Wheels mounted properly
    • Wheels true
    • Spoke tension even
  • Drivetrain
    • Chain and drivetrain clean and lubed (may need to remove rear wheel to floss between cogs)
    • Measure chain for wear ("stretch")
    • Check cogs and chainrings for excessive wear
  • Brakes and Shifters
    • Brakes adjusted and clear the rims, levers do not bottom out on handlebars
    • Brake pads have life remaining and are centered on rims when applied 
    • Shifting smooth and precise
    • Lubricate derailleur pivots/pulleys, brake and shift cables, few drops of oil in 3-speed hubs
  • Suspension
    • Check pressure on air-sprung suspension
    • Lubricate dust wipers
    • Check rear suspension pivot bolt torque
  • Clipless pedals—lubricate springs and pivots
  • Headset adjusted; not loose or gritty
  • Handlebars, saddle, front wheel are square with frame
  • Saddle at right height with tight mounting bolts and seatpost binder bolt
  • Bearings spin smoothly with hydraulic resistance: front and rear hubs, bottom bracket, headset, pedals (adjustments are easy enough, but overhauls are pretty time- and mess-intensive)
  • General review for cracks, damage, or loose nuts and bolts (especially chainrings, cranks, pedals, brakes, headset, stem)
Extra credit:
  • Remove seatpost, wipe off, reapply grease
  • For threaded headsets, remove stem, wipe off, reapply grease
  • Clean rims with rubbing alcohol
General comments:
  • WD-40 can be used to clean and degrease, but not really to lubricate well since it is so thin. Chains, for example, should use a heavier bike-specific wet lube or dry Teflon lube. I've had success with White Lightning Clean Ride and Tri-Flow.
  • Don't turn the bike upside down on the ground to work on it—you'll damage the seat, handlebars, shifters, or cables. Instead, hang the bike from some hooks, posts, even a tree branch if you don't have a repair stand. I once mounted my trunk rack to the wall of my garage and it was great.
Ride often and safely!

Portable bike tune-up kit

1 comment :

  1. Thanks to Mike! I learned bike Tune-up Checklist.


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