What is a bicycle tune-up and when should I get one on my bike ?
When does my bike need a tune-up?
In short, It’s a good idea to tune-up your bike at least once a year, right before peak season. Tune-ups are a great way to prevent any breakage, more expensive repairs and malfunctions during a ride. The last thing anyone wants is to have your bike brake down while on a long ride, forcing you to walk home or call for a ride ruining your ride. There are lots of common adjustments needed to keep your bike running well and prevent major issues.
Bicycles are very similar to cars in the sense that they need tune-ups and maintenances annually. For those that use their bike one hundred miles a week or more, a tune-up might be recommend twice a year. For the regular rider that rides on the weekend or occasionally, once a years is sufficient. Before we get into the tune-ups specification and types, it’s important to know that chains, cassettes, freewheels and crank chain wrings do need to be changed out regularly because it is a wear and tear component. We refer to this group of components as the drive train. Similar to a car timing belt, oil, and vital liquids, the bicycle drivetrain and more specially the chain needs to be changed about every 2000-3000 miles. Live 4 Bikes often receive bikes that have not changed the chain in over 5000 miles or more and this causes the rear cassette or freewheel to get worn to the point the cassette or freewheel will have to be replaced in order to keep the new chain from skipping.
It’s important to give your bike a tune-up to prolong the life of your bike, preserve components to brake and more importantly have a safe ride. I always tell our Live 4 Bikes customers it is cheaper to pay for a tune-up than a trip to the ER! Bicycles do have moving parts, cables and other components that regularly get out of adjustment that make the bike shifters and brakes not work precisely. A regular problem that we experience is when people come in with broken rear derailleurs that get caught in the rear wheel spokes. This is caused because the rear derailleur is out of adjustment and when the rider goes to shift it to the lowest gear, the derailleur drops the chain in between the cassette and the spokes making the derailleur get caught in the spokes braking the derailleur or the derailleur hanger. All of this can be prevented with a yearly tune-up. Other issues such as crank arm stripping, wheel hub issues, lost and loose bolts, falling of the bike and other issues can be prevented with annual tune-ups. Even single speed bike like fixie, cruiser, single speed trikes and more can benefit from a good tune-up on a regular basis. On the other hand, don’t expect a bike that has been neglected for years to be brought back to life from a basic tune-up! Sometimes bikes that have been forgotten about or vintages bikes can sometimes be revived with an overhaul tune-up. Overhaul tune-ups are the most expensive type of tune-ups and we only recommend this option in special cases, such as vintage bikes or bikes that have a high sentimental value.
In depth, there are different types of tune-up levels. Single tune-ups are the most basic type of tune ups. Although, there are typically no gears, the most important part of this tune-ups is the lubricating of the chain and the greasing of the moving parts. Single speed tune-ups are extremely reasonable, typically only $45. The next level of tune-ups are 7 speed cruisers bikes. Cruiser bikes typically have hand brakes and a rear derailleur. We call this particular tune-up, the Cruiser 7 tune-up. For most bikes that have a front and rear derailleur, the basic tune-up is going to be the best option to prevent malefactions and get your bike running at its best. Basic tune-ups at Live 4 Bikes includes: Front and back mechanical brake adjustments, front and back derailleur adjustments, lubing up the drive train, tightening all bolts, correct air pressure, minor wheel trueing (wheel stringing) and a minor wipe down cleaning. (Brake bleeding is extra)
A lot of times, we get people needing repairs on broken components. Our Live 4 Bikes mechanic will recommend a tune-up because we notice that the bike will not be in good working condition with just a components replacement. If you are considering modernizing the look of you bike, a new set of cables and housing may do the trick. Also, new cables and housing will help your brakes and shifters have less friction and have a great positive effect on the overall performance of your bike! It is common that moister and rust create friction in the cable and housing. In order to avoid unwanted rust, it’s best to store your bike in a dry place at all times.
The next tune-up level will be the Tune-up Plus. The Tune-up Plus is the same as a basic tune-up however, include a major wheel truing adjustment. Depending on how severe your wheels are out of true (meaning they are cricket) the Tune-up Plus will include major wheel truing. When wheels are out of true, the brakes can be affected as well. If your bike has rim brakes of any kind the trueness (straightness) of your wheel will directly effect free spinning wheel. In other words if your wheel is not true the sidewall will rub on the brake making it hard to pedal and go forward.
Finally, an overhaul Tune-up is when Live 4 Bikes bike shop takes your bike apart down to the bear frame and rebuild the entire bike. This is only recommend in special cases, such as, vintage rare bikes and/or bikes that have high sentimental value. This service is the most expensive and take lots of time and man hours, so again, it’s only recommended in special cases. Generally speaking, all bikes and all situations can differ and the best advise Live 4 Bikes can give you is, go down to your local bike shop with the bike and have a professional mechanic inspect your bike. Also, make sure that you keep up with the maintenance of your bike (which is recommended at least once a year) so that your bike can run smoother and last longer.