Get in gear at home with a DIY bike tune-up

One of the best things about summer is being able to take your bike out of the garage and get riding again. But after sitting in storage over the winter, your bike is going to need a tune up.

While you could bring it to a bike shop, you can save money by learning how to do a bike tune-up at home. Whether you ride a top-of-the-line mountain bike or a simple commuter model, the steps below will teach you how to perform a simple tune-up in time for the summer riding season.

Clean your chain

You’ll want to clean your chain to make sure your bike runs smoothly. While you could remove the chain entirely and let it soak in a cleaner overnight, the easier method is to coat your chain with lube and then run a cloth over the bottom while moving the pedals backwards. If your chain has gotten a lot of use, you may want to consider replacing it entirely.

And everything else

If gunk and debris have gotten into your cassette, it’s going to be a lot harder to pedal. Use a toothbrush to remove any dirt in your cassette. You may want to remove the rear wheel to give yourself better access to hard-to-reach parts. When done, oil the cassette. Next, clean the rest of your bike. Use a dishwashing soap and create a light lather over the frame. Avoid using a stream of water from a hose to clean it off, as this could cause rust to build up on the inside. Instead, spray the bike with a light mist and bounce the bike up and down to shake out excess water.

Check your brakes

A bike without properly working brakes is downright dangerous. Check to make sure there are still lots of pad left. If there aren’t, get them replaced. If your pads look fine, make sure the wheel is centered between each one. To center the brakes, loosen the bolt holding the caliper and move the caliper so that there is an even amount of space on both sides of the rim. Finally, double check to make sure that the brake pads are coming down on the rim and not on the tire itself. You can use an Allen wrench to move the brake pads up or down to ensure they are hitting the rims.

Check your tires

Finally, check your tires for tread and pressure. If your tires are starting to look a bit bare, visit your bike shop for advice on whether or not it may be time to get them replaced. If the tread seems fine, check the tire pressure. When filling up your tires, you can usually just go by the recommended PSI indicated on the side of your tires. However, if you are mountain biking, you will usually need to fill them up below the recommended PSI. Lastly, give each tire a spin to make sure they are not warped or damaged, otherwise you will need to get them repaired.

Tuning up your bike takes less than an hour, but it will make all the difference when you hit the roads or trails this summer. By following the above steps you’ll keep your bike in great working order and be able to enjoy a better, smoother ride.