DIY Bike Tune Up Checklist for Beginners

If you want your bike to continue to give you that smooth cycling experience, then you need to be doing a bit of a tune-up every so often. While some people will take their bikes to the closest cycling repair shop, you’ll be surprised at just how much you can in the comfort of your own home. On this page, we want to walk you through a brief DIY bike tune up.

Most of the information that you find here is designed for those that want to do a DIY mountain bike tune-up. However, we see no reason why a lot of these steps wouldn’t also apply to other types of bikes out there.

Steps to Take for a DIY Bike Tune Up

Because there are a lot of steps to cover for a DIY bike tune-up, we aren’t going to give a complete guide to every step of the process.

Instead, we are going to give you an overview of the sorts of things that you should be doing while tuning that bike up.

A lot of the things should be fairly self-explanatory. However, if you need more information on a specific step, then there’s plenty of information out there.

Tighten the Handlebars

Let’s start with something nice and easy. This is to tighten up the handlebars.

Every time you turn the handlebars, the retaining bolt will become a little bit looser. If you don’t tighten it up regularly, then it may be eventually knocked completely loose. This means that you may struggle to turn your bike.

Thankfully, tightening up that retaining bolt should take no more than a couple of seconds per week.

Tighten the Seat

Every so often, you’re going to want to tighten up that seat.

Of course, you’ll also want to ensure that the seat hasn’t changed height too. As you sit on the bike, you’ll be gradually knocking it down a little bit lower.

If you aren’t regularly adjusting things, then it won’t be long before you’re sitting in an uncomfortable position while on your bike.

Clean the Bike Chain

Your next job is to give your bike’s chain a good clean. You’ll want to use a proper bike chain cleaning agent for this. Any good bike store will have it in stock.

The purpose of the cleaning agent is to fight rust, clear away all that grime and, ultimately, ensure that your chain is properly lubricated. This will help to ensure that you have the smoothest possible riding experience while on your bike.

Check the Bike’s Tires

Every month or so, you should be giving your bike’s tires a quick look over during the DIY bike tune up. You’re looking for any cracks in the tires or places where the tire tread will have worn away.

If any of the tread has worn away, then you’re going to need to replace the tires as soon as possible. You’ll be riding a bike that’s no longer able to grip the ground as effectively. 

Pump Up the Tires

Thankfully, this is a job that most cyclists are going to be carrying out on a regular basis anyway. However, surprisingly, many cyclists are doing it incorrectly.

Many bike owners will just pump up the tires until it feels ‘right’. However, we don’t suggest that you do that. You’ll likely end up with the wrong tire pressure, which can cause all sorts of issues.

We suggest that you invest in a good tire pressure gauge. You should then look up the ideal tire pressure for your bike’s tires. All you need to do then is just pump away until that tire pressure gauge says that you have reached the right pressure.

Align the Brakes (Rim Brakes Only)

If you have rim brakes on your bike, then you’re going to need to align them every so often. This is a pretty easy job.

You’ll need to adjust the brake calipers so that the brake pads will come into contact with the wheel rim only. You don’t want the brake pads to touch the tires at all.

At the same time, you may need to give the brake pads a quick wipe down with a cloth. Your brakes won’t work anywhere near as effectively if they have even the smallest amount of grime on them.

Tighten the Wheels

If there are any loose bolts around the wheels, then give them a good tightening. They will naturally come loose over time, so tightening up the bolts should be a key part of a weekly DIY bike tune up. 

Check Brake Cables

Over time, the brake cables on your bike will start to become loose. You’ll notice that this is happening when you find yourself having to pull the brake lever a little bit harder to slow down.

Thankfully, tightening up brake cables is dead simple. The process will vary depending on the brakes that you have. However, quite often it will require nothing more than a screwdriver and a good pair of wire cutters.

This is something that you may need to do every few months, although it does depend on the quality of the brakes that you have installed on your bike.

Clean Bicycle Cassette

This is a job that you can do every month or two. This is because you’ll have to completely remove the back wheel.

Once you have removed the back wheel, you will have access to the bicycle cassette. You’ll want to remove any grease and grime on the cassette. You’ll then need to use a good bicycle lube to ensure everything can continue to flow smoothly.

Adjust Your Derailleurs

Finally, you may need to adjust your derailleurs. If you notice that your gears are acting a little bit differently from what they have in the past, then the derailleurs are likely to be the issue.

Thankfully, dealing with the problem is simple. It can vary considerably depending on the type of gears you own, though. Most derailleurs can be adjusted with a simple set of tools.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are a lot of steps to a proper DIY bike tune up. However, none of these steps are that complicated, and many of them will take a couple of minutes at the most.

Spend some time each month tuning up your bike and we are certain that your cycling experience will be that much more pleasurable.

Shailen Vandeyar

A proud Indian origin Kiwi who loves to plant trees and play with my pet bunny when not out doing about every kind of biking and experiencing the occasional tumble. Ready to share the ride with you.

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