Here in SF, we’re reaching a point in the year where the rain finally seems to be dialing itself back, the sun is teasing us during fleeting hours of the day, and the fog…well the fog sorta just does it’s thing. Which is all a round about way of saying we'll be getting out a lot more often in the coming weeks/months and it's time to check the vital signs on that bike of yours.
If you’re a fair weather rider, your bike probably collected dust over the winter months and could use a little tune up due to some mild neglect.
On the flip side, if you trucked it through the rain, sleet, and/or snow this winter, we applaud you and know for a fact that your bike is in need of a little love before you get out on some summer rides.
Either way, the “sunny” spring and summer days theoretically aren’t too far off, which means it’s time to make sure your bike’s in tip-top riding shape. The below information is meant to make even the most novice of riders/mechanics feel comfortable with doing some basic maintenance on their trusty set of wheels from the comfort of their own home.
Setting up for maintenance:
Alright, we know it's highly unlikely that you are one of our few customers that have made the investment in a full-on bikestand at home like Josh. For the rest of us, we're going to suggest flipping your bike over onto its backside (pictured above) to allow it to remain stable and stationary while getting it's yearly checkup.
Greasing and tightening:
So one of the most overlooked and easy to accomplish bits of maintenance comes down to a few common tools and a little grease and/or lube.
With a multitool or set of hex wrenches, go around your bike making sure each bolt is nice and tight. They tend to wiggle a little loose over time, and it never hurts to make sure they’re snug when you’re getting ready for a long season of rides.
Pro tip: DO NOT over-torque your bolts. We know you’re strong but you really don’t have to prove it to your bike. If you slip up and strip a bolt out it’s not gonna be fun to fix.
Hit your chain with a little degreaser and give it a quick wipe down with a towel to get major pieces of gunk/grime off of it. Looking clean? Awesome. Now, while running your crankset, try to apply an even coating of chain lube to the entirety of the chain. Work in some backpedal action to really coat the lube into the chain and gears. Let the applied lube sit for a few hours, and then give the chain a light wipedown to remove any excess.
Here’s an important one that we see fall to the wayside all too often: greasing your seat post! If neglected, the result is a completely seized up post. This one’s super simple and basically explains itself. Pull your sea post allllll the way out, give it a nice new coat of grease inside the seat tube, slide that sucker back in to your preferred saddle height, and tighten up your seat post collar to secure it in place. Boom, you’re good for about another year.
Helpful tools in our shop:
Look for low tread and/or any small holes that may be developing in your current tires. These are likely to attribute to your next flat tire, and are in fact a good indicator that you’re in need of a new tire.
Pro tip: Some Continental tires have wear indicators to make this even easier!
To pull off a deflated tire, simply insert your tire levers between the rim and the bead of the tire, then carefully inch them around the bead until you are able to pull the entire side wall out and over the rim.
Next, remove your deflated tube, and check the INSIDE lining of your tire to see if anything sharp is hiding inside, sometimes a small piece of glass or rock will be sitting in there waiting to puncture your next tube before you ever get a chance to ride – don’t let it happen to you.
Finally, insert your new tube, pull the bead of the tire back inside the rim, and get to pumping!
Pro tip: Most tires have their maximum PSI indicated on the sidewall of the tire itself.
Helpful video link:
Helpful tools in our shop:
Caliper brakes a little on the loose side? This is another easy at-home fix in many cases.
Just a simple twist of the barrel adjuster should tighten you up a decent amount. It may seem counter intuitive, but all you need to do is twist the adjuster to the left and essentially unscrew it. This will tighten your brakes a pretty decent amount, but If you’re maxing it out, you’re most likely due for a real tune up here at the shop.
Also make sure to check your pad wear! There’s nothing nastier than scratching the heck out of your rims and the sound of metal on metal as you try to brake with no pad left. If it’s time for new inserts, bring your bike in and we can swap them out for new ones. ($15 all said and done)
Tension your chain & tune your gears:
If you’ve opted into riding one of our internally geared bikes, you’re in luck. The Alfine gear tuning adjustment is super easy. All you need to do is the following:
Shift your bike into 4th gear.
Locate the little yellow indicator lines on the drive side of the hub. These will be inside a tiny clear window, right next to the shifter cable running around the hub.
Twist the barrel adjuster on your shifter until you are able to align the two yellow squares, and voila, you’re all tuned up. These are just painted guidance lines, so you may have to play with the adjuster a bit while riding to get it perfect.
Rolling on a single speed? Check your chain tension and make sure there’s no unnecessary slack. If you do notice that your wheel has shifted forward and is causing chain slack, simply do the following.
Loosen your rear wheels axle nuts until you’re able to move the wheel back and forth in the rear dropouts.
Next, pull the wheel all the way back, and tighten it down to ensure a taut chainline.
Turn your crankset to check the tension along the entire rotation. There is always a tight and loose spot in the chain, and you want to find the perfect tension for the entirety of the chain – not just one spot.
Helpful video link:
Finally, ride it out:
And with that, you’ve (hopefully) successfully prepared your bike for some summer riding. Didn’t break the bank, and hardly broke a sweat. Now the rest is up to the weather man!
If for any reason there’s something going on with your bike that you don’t feel comfortable fixing, don’t panic – we’re here for you. Feel free to reach out to us at the shop and we’ll be happy to help out. To schedule your tune up with the shop, please don’t hesitate to reach out during our normal business hours at (415) 683-6166