Bicycle Maintenance 101 - How to Tune up Your Bike

A blue and white cruiser bike is seen on a bike path with a beautiful blue lake and mountain range in the background. The bike has a comfortable-looking seat, white-walled tires, and a classic frame design. The background features a clear blue lake, with ripples visible on the surface, and a majestic mountain range rising behind it.

Before jumping on your bike and hitting the road, there are a few things you should do. Regular inspections could help prevent damage to your bike and injury to yourself. Scheduled maintenance and tune-ups will also ensure your bike's longevity. Here are some pre-riding measures you should take before hitting the road.

1. Check Air Pressure

A hand is shown holding a tire gauge and checking the tire pressure of a bike tire.  The gauge is pressed firmly against the valve of the tire. The bike tire is a narrow, black road tire with a distinctive tread pattern.

Start by checking the air pressure in both the front and back tires. Make sure they are properly inflated. Check the sidewall of your tires for any punctures or leakage. Pack a tire pump and patch kit in your bag in case of emergencies.

2. Test and Adjust Your Brakes

Close-up image of the front tire on a black bike with tan tires. The tire has a smooth, slick surface with a subtle tread pattern in the center. The tire appears to be well-maintained and fully inflated.

Squeeze your brakes, front and back levers to make sure they are properly and smoothly working. Adjust the brake pads so they hit the center of the rim at equal pressure.

3. Lubricate the Chain

This is a close-up image of a bike tire spoke. The spoke is thin and made of silver metal, with a cylindrical shape and a slight curvature towards the center. It connects the black hub of the bike wheel to the outer rim, forming part of the wheel structure.

Lubricate your chain and gears to ensure your bike shifts easy from one gear to another. Lubrication will help extend the life of your chain and drivetrain.

4. Tighten up the Bolts

A man is shown tightening bolts on a bike tire. The man is using a wrench to tighten the bolts on the black hub of the bike wheel.

There are many nuts and bolts that hold a bike together. Keeping them properly tight can help with performance and reduce wear and tear. Be sure to check with the manufacturer’s specs for proper torque; over-tightening can lead to component damage and failure.

5. Clean Your Bike

This image shows the cropped view of a father and son cleaning a bike tire. The focus of the image is on their hands, which are holding a damp soapy cloth above the black tire.

Cleaning your bike regularly doesn’t only make it sparkle, it keeps it running smoothly. The more you ride your bike the more cleaning it needs, especially in wet or muddy conditions. Keeping a clean bike will help prevent rust and corrosion. Some basic supplies for cleaning include: rags, brushes, water, soap, and degreaser. Using soap, water, and the brushes, scrub down the frame and hard to reach spokes and bearings, then wipe clean with the rags. Use the degreaser (avoid kerosene or turpentine) for gummy parts, like the bike chain. Once cleaning is completed, apply lubrication.

6. Lubricate Bike Components

a man in a red shirt lubricating a bike chain. The man is crouched down next to the bike, with his left hand holding a small bottle of lubricant. The lighting is bright and clear, providing a clear view of the man and the bike chain.

Lubricating bike components is crucial for performance, but over-lubricating your bike can lead to poor performance, attracting more dirt and abrasive particles. Always wipe away excess lube before riding your bike. There are two types of lubrication, wet and dry. Wet is best for riding in wet conditions. It holds well to the chain and drivetrain, and doesn’t rinse off in the rain. Dry lubrication is better for dry conditions, with dirt and grit less likely to stick, but rinses off in the rain.

With your bike clean and properly lubricated you are ready to hit the road. Make sure to use safety precautions and always wear a helmet. Ride on down to your local Do it Best store for all your bike needs.


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