The damn bike is creaking again. That pesky “clunk” every time you try to pedal up a hill. Or those miss-shifts that leave you frantically trying to unclip.

Spring is a good time to get your bike in. But you have to beat the rush.

Do A Visual Inspection

The key areas to direct your attention to are the tires and the brakes.

The brakes slow down your bike by using rubber pads to grip the wheels. These rubber pads are calibrated to toe in towards the front. The pads will need to be replaced when they are worn down. When the rubber pads get worn down, they will be a triangular shape.

Tires are made out of rubber, and rubber rots. If a tire looks cracked, it most likely has dry rot. Tires with dry rot are very dangerous. A rotted tire can easily be pulled off of the rim while riding, forcing the bike to slide out from underneath the rider.

The brake cables are going to undergo some wear and tear with use. You need to watch out for loose cables. When the brakes are fully activated, the lever should be about an inch away from the handlebar. If the cables are loose, the lever will be more than an inch away.

You also need to be diligent in finding any rusty cables. If there is any rust on the cables, they should be replaced as soon as possible.

If your bicycle has been sitting dormant all winter, it is a good idea to at least get an estimate for a tune-up.

How Much Does a Tune-Up Cost?

The fee for a tune-up, as you may already know, can vary greatly. The first shop you called is asking for $100 and the second shop is asking for $200. Why is this?

Bicycle shops calculate their tune-up rates based on how many hours they spend performing the tune-up. The average rate is around $75 per hour.

Each shop has its own version of a tune-up.

Some stores may offer different levels of tune-ups. A lower level tune-up may just encompass minor adjustments. While a higher level tune-up can be a full overhaul.

How Much of a Tune-Up Does My Bike Need?

If you have a solid understanding of bicycle knowledge, then you can self-diagnose the condition of your bike. But if you are a beginner or just don’t completely trust yourself, do not fear!

Most local bike shops will give you a free estimate of the cost before they perform and work.

If, for whatever reason, you don’t think they will give you a free estimate, walk your bike into the shop and then ask them. It will be much harder for the employee to turn you down when you are standing right in front of him or her with your bike.

What Does a Tune-Up Entail?

When you take your bike into a shop for a tune-up, the first thing they are going to do is diagnose its condition. Of course, they are going to look for dirt, grime, and rust. They are also going to check out the seat post, cables, bar tape, headset, chain, and bottom bracket.

Smoother Shifting

Uncomfortable or rough gear switching is never desired. When you change gears, the chain should smoothly jump to the next cog. If the chain doesn’t jump far enough or jumps too far, something is wrong.

It can be difficult to adjust the chain on your own. You would need a repair stand to hold your bicycle still while you adjust the chain.

First, shift to the smallest cog. Turn the barrel adjuster on the rear derailleur one half turn clockwise. Then while rotating the pedals, shift once. If the chain doesn’t jump smoothly to the next cog, make another half turn. If it jumped too much, back it down a half turn.

Be careful not to turn the barrel adjuster more than halfway at a time. This can create too much tension, which in turn will make your shifting worse than when you started.

Cleaning and Replacements

They will replace anything that is in poor condition. A bicycle cleaning is also included in the tune-up.

Some shops are going to be more thorough than others when diagnosing the condition of your bike. It is in your best interest to find a local shop you can trust with the diagnosis.

Video: Do Your Own Tuneup!