DIY Bike Tune Up

Photo courtesy of Tomas Aleksiejunas, Creative Commons Flickr


For those of us non-professional bicyclists, gearing up to ride bikes in the summer usually means pulling the bicycle out of storage and testing the tires to make sure they still have air. But that’s not really the best way to take care of your bike. This year, why not try a DIY bike tune up?

First of all, give yourself a little elbow room. If you’re going to work outside, sweep your ‘work zone’ first. Then, remove your bicycle’s wheels, flip the bike over, and balance the frame on the handlebars and seat. This makes working on the bike a LOT easier.

PRO TIP: Do not wash your bicycle like a car! Squirting a stream of water all over your bicycle is a big no-no. Among other unfortunate things, it leads to rust and creaks, neither of which are advisable.

To wash your bicycle, use mild dish soap, warm water, and a towel. Wipe the dirt and grime off your frame. Then, move to the chain and drivetrain area.

To clean your chain thoroughly, spray it with a little WD40 and take a fine brush to each link. A powerful magnet (available in a kit or separate from any bike shop) can then remove any metal flakes from the chain.

PRO TIP: Remember to let the WD40 dry before you lubricate the chain again.

Wipe excess lube off your chain. Too much is as bad as not enough!

Finally, check your brakes. (This does not mean getting the bike to speed and squeezing hard) Your bicycle brakes are pads, and just like your car’s brakes, they have wear indicators. Look carefully to see how much life you have left in your brakes—and for sure, if you see metal—it’s time to replace!

Those are the basics. A reputable bike shop can do more, but for the weekend rider, this is a great way to start the season.

TAKE A RIDE: June 14 is the Wildflower Bike Trail Ride in Glacier National Park.

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