By Laurel-Lea Shannon
Spring is in the air and you’re eagerly anticipating getting outside on your trusty steed. But before you do, there’s something you need to think about: a tune-up for your bike. Getting your bike tuned up each spring is a bit like getting regular oil changes on your car. If you ride a lot and you don’t do regular maintenance, you increase the risk of mechanical problems on the road, your bike parts could seize up or fall off and you’ll quickly wear out the components.
Ensuring that your bike is mechanically sound not only saves you from breakdowns far from home, but it keeps you safer on the road. You don’t want to discover a problem with a wheel while you’re flying down a hill at 50 or 60 kms an hour. For the best and safest ride, your bike’s gears and brakes need to be properly adjusted, the tires need to be at the correct pressure and checked for wear, the wheels need to be trued (checking that they rotate smoothly without wobbling), and the cables, housing, and brake pads need to be in good condition.
If you’re mechanically adept and can distinguish a derailleur from a headset, you may be able to do your own spring tune-up and safety check. It’s not rocket science, but it does require a familiarity with bike components and the time to do it right. Read Sheila Ascroft’s bicycle maintenance check list.
Fortunately for the rest of us, there are bike shops that offer different levels of tune-ups—from basic to overhaul. Make sure you call ahead to ask them what kind of tune-ups they do, and what’s included. Some shops will look at your bike and tell you what level of tune-up you need. Beware of shops that don’t itemize what they’re doing.
Basic tune-ups ($40-$50)
A safety check with minimal adjustments that include:
▲ Light clean and lube of bike
▲ Tires inspected and pressure checked
▲ Full adjustment of gears and brakes
- including adjustment of cables, housings, and brake pads
▲ Full bike safety inspection
▲ Minor wheel true
▲ Minor parts/accessories installation
Intermediate tune-ups ($80-$90)
A tune-up for cyclists who ride 4,000+ kms (2,400 miles) every season. You’ll only need to do this once every few years. It includes:
▲ Dismantle chain, derailleurs, and chainwheel
▲ Wash and reassemble chain, derailleurs and chainwheel
▲ Dismantle brakes and brake cable
▲ Clean and repack brakes with grease (replace bearings if necessary)
▲ Check and adjust hub bearings and check trueness of wheels
▲ Set up brakes, check for toe-in and adjust as necessary
▲ Reassemble derailleurs and set up shifting
▲ Check tires and inflate to proper pressure
▲ Check tightness and safety limit of handlebar stem, seatpost, and saddle
▲ General clean-up of bicycle
▲ Safety check of bicycle
Advanced tune-ups – the overhaul ($125 -$155)
Only necessary if you’ve put mega-miles on a bike that you’ve been riding for 10 years. It includes all of the above, plus:
▲ Dismantle front and rear hubs, plus headset. Wash, clean, and repack.
Compared with a car, it doesn’t cost much to keep your bike in top running form. And don’t skimp. Spending money on a tune-up could save you a lot of trouble out on the road.
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