How do I tune my bicycle?

Cycling

Even if you only ride your bike a few months out of the year, an annual tune-up is recommended.

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The best way to tune your bicycle

Performing a bike tune-up may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and a bit of knowledge, it’s easy to get your bike running smoothly anywhere. If your bike has been lying around in storage for a while and you’re ready to get back in the saddle, it’s always a good idea to perform a simple tune-up before taking it out on the trail.

Even if your bike hasn’t been collecting dust, a tune-up and safety check before a big outing is recommended. Something as small as correcting a rattling chain or clunky gear shift can make all the difference on your next cycling adventure. 

What tools do you need to tune up a bicycle?

Tools for a bike tune-up 

Amazon Basics 48-Piece General Household Home Repair

Tuning up a bike can be difficult if you don’t have the right toolset. If you’re wondering whether or not your basic tool kit for home or auto repair will work, the short answer is no. Most tool kits meant for use at home or on cars use standard American measurements, and there are very few bikes on the market made with those standards in mind. 

Bikes are known for having some of the most delicate parts and pieces, so using tools that handle delicate fittings will likely do more harm than good. A set of bike tools such as the Park Tool PH- 1.2 P-Handle Hex Wrench Set will go a long way for any bike owner. 

Another essential tool that you will need in your arsenal is a torque wrench. When considering which torque wrench to buy, it’s best to look for a specifically made tool for working on bicycles, such as the Pro Bike Tool Drive Click Torque Wrench

Tools for bike wheels

When checking your wheels, be sure and look for any loose spokes in the tire. If you notice any shakey spokes, you will need to use a spoke wrench to secure the spokes to the rim. 

A reliable pump is recommended for any bike owner. When choosing a pump, simplicity is vital. The only feature that you will need on a pump is an accurate gauge. For bike tires with tubes, the SKS Rennkompressor is a tried and true pump that bicycle repair shops across the country universally recommend. 

Stans No Tube

If you have a bike with tubeless tires, a tune-up is a great time to reseal the tires to the rim using a sealant such as Stans No Tubes. 

Tools for bike brakes 

When checking your brakes, there are a couple of things to consider. Firstly, what type of brake system do you have? Most standard bicycles will have a cable-actuated brake system, which can be easily checked by looking at the integrity of the brake cable. 

Park Tool BKD-1 Hydraulic Bicycle Brake Bleed Kit - DOT Fluid

If your bike uses a hydraulic disk brake system, you will need to make sure that the brakes properly bled during tune-ups. The good news is there are products available to make this process easy, such as the Park Tool BKD-1 Hydraulic Bicycle Brake Bleed Kit.

How to tune a bicycle 

How to clean a bicycle 

The first step to any tune-up is to give your bike a good cleaning. For this, you can use any dish soap that is tough on grease or a product specifically made to clean bikes, such as WD-40 Bike Degreaser. After letting the degreaser sit on your bike for about 10 minutes, spray it off with water. 

Bicycle safety check 

This is perhaps the most crucial part of any bike tune-up. Inspect the body of the bike, particularly around the wheel and seat-post, for any cracks. If you notice any scratches, make sure to inspect them thoroughly to confirm that they are not cracks in the frame of your bike. 

Check the wheels and brakes. Pay special attention to the brake pads. If they are looking worn down, it’s time to replace them. 

Check the chain, cassette and derailleurs for any damage. The fastest way to do this is to shift through the gears and pay attention to clunky shifts or skipping gears. 

If you notice anything out of the ordinary with your wheels, brakes or chain, grab your tools and perform the necessary tune-ups. 

How to lube a bicycle chain 

WD-40 Bike Chain Lube

The last step to a bicycle tune-up is relubricating the chain. This is done by taking a chain lubricant, such as WD-40 Bike Chain Lube and applying a small drop to each roller in the chain. Be careful that excess lubricant doesn’t get on any of the brake components while applying it. Once the lube has been applied to the chain, give it a good spin to evenly distribute the lube. Then, run through your gears to make sure that the chain is switching through them seamlessly. 

What you need to buy for a bicycle tune-up 

Park Tool PH- 1.2 P-Handle Hex Wrench Set

Park Tool PH- 1.2 P-Handle Hex Wrench Set

This toolset is a must-have for anyone looking to tune up their bike at home.

Sold by Amazon 

Pro Bike Tool Drive Click Torque Wrench

Pro Bike Tool Drive Click Torque Wrench

Every bike owner needs a torque wrench, and you can’t beat this set for the price.

Sold by Amazon 

Winzwon Bike Spoke Wrench 

Winzwon Bike Spoke Wrench 

A great tool to have for performing tune-ups on bike tires and correcting loose spokes.

Sold by Amazon 

SKS Rennkompressor

SKS Rennkompressor

A reliable and sturdy pump with an accurate pressure gauge. This pump is one of the most recommended on the market.

Sold by Amazon

WD-40 Bike Maintenance Bundle

WD-40 Bike Maintenance Bundle

This bike maintenance bundle by WD-40 comes with a bike degreaser for cleaning and a bike lubricant for re-lubricating the chain after cleaning. The bundle is the cheapest way to get everything you need for a tune-up.

Sold by Amazon

 

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Addison Hoggard writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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