Sunday, April 03, 2011

A basic bicycle tune-up

click on the image for larger view

I have a friend who has this twenty something Rocky Mountain and he brings it to me every year to do the annual check up. I taught some of you might find it interesting to see what the process is when going over a typical tune up for a very well loved mountain bike.

First off this bike and its owner have a very good relationship and it's been a long one. To buy a similar bike today would cost a fortune but the owner throughout the years has made the smart choice of investing in regular maintenance and it has paid off. This vintage bike still runs great and has many great years of service in front of it.

Now to the task at hand, the first thing I do is go over the basic stuff like checking if the brakes work fine, check if the pads are not worn out, at the same time I turn the wheels to see if they are true using the brake pads to eyeball this and check the general condition of the tires. Next I shift in all the gears front and back to see it needs any adjustment. In this case I'm happy to see that all is still in order since last year.

After that I check if the cables for brake and shifters are frayed or rusted. If they don't require to be replaced, I lube the exposed portions using ATF or regular bike oil. I then go over the entire bike to tighten everything that can be, keeping an eye out for less obvious stuff like missing bolts, cracked metal, loose parts or anything out of the ordinary. This is also a good time to see if any of the main bearings are loose. Rock both wheels from side to side and if you feel any movement or clunking, the bearings are loose and require your attention. In the case of the main pedal axle, or bottom bracket, grab one of the cranks and try to shake it from side to side as well. If it moves, grab the other crank arm and try again. If both of them jiggle in unison, you have loose bearings. If only one jiggles, your crank arm is about to fall off. Adjust and tightened as needed.

click on the image for larger view

In the case of the Rocky Mountain the following problems were found: A flat rear tire, a loose cassette, a missing seat post bolt and a few loose bolts on the goose neck. I also had a chance to look over the general condition of the bike and I will recommend to my friend to start shopping for new tires, a chain and cassette for next year. Even though sometimes parts are still good, some may be border line. Taking the time the tune up ones ride gives you a chance to see the possible problems down the road and prepare for them.

click on the image for larger view

Once all of this is done, all that is left is to do is bring up the tires to the proper air pressure and lube the chain and gears (Don't forget to clean everything before you do this) and go for a test ride.

Don't foget that you can always check all of my previous how-to articles here: HOW-TO ARTICLES
And you can download my free Ebook for beginner bike mechanics here: Free Bike Maintenance book

Until next time ride safe and free.

Gerry :)


Clancy said...

Nice article. I always tell people to do an ABC Quick Check on their bikes if it has not been ridden in a while.

A- Air,tires etc.
B- Brakes
C- Chain, drivetrain
Quick Check- bolts for handlebar,quick release, etc.


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