Summer is the time to train for centuries and races, take off on a week-long bike tour or spend the afternoon exploring new single-tracks. To get the most out of your bike, and lower your chances of a mechanical, begin your adventure by performing a basic bike tune-up.

Clean and lubricate the Chain

Bike Tune UpYour chain is essentially a magnet for dirt and grime. Since the chain and sprockets play a key role in how well power is transferred, it’s important to keep them in tip-top shape.

Save yourself some time by picking up a chain cleaning tool like Finish Line’s Shop Quality Chain Cleaner. Simply fill it with a cleaner and degreaser and watch as the tool’s brushes magically sweep away grime lodged in each link. After the chain is clean, run it through an old rag several times until it’s dry. Next, apply a bike-specific chain lubricant. Follow the instructions specific to the product, but be sure to thoroughly wipe off any excess lube, as it will quickly collect dirt. To keep dirt from building up, wipe the chain with a rag after every ride.

Inspect the brakes

Check that the brake pads are tracking properly on the rim and not rubbing against the tire or only hitting part of the rim.

Brake pads are also prone to picking up debris. This, in turn, can damage rims, shorten the life of your brake pads or decrease the brake’s stopping power.  For brakes with pads, clean them with rubbing alcohol or bike cleaner. If you do find pieces of glass, sand or stones lodged in the pad, use a sharp object like a pick or knife to carefully remove the object.  Disc brakes can be cleaned with either rubbing alcohol or a cleaner specifically designed for disc brakes.

Check the Tire Pressure

Tune Up BikeMost flat tires are avoidable if you check the tire pressure before every ride and also regularly inspect the tire for sharp objects. If you spot something in the wheel, remove it with the tip of a sharp knife and stop using any tires that have holes or cuts in them. The tire’s recommended pressure is listed on the sidewall and you should always pump the tire to at least the minimum number. Not only will properly inflated tires help protect you from a puncture, they will also protect your rims and make pedaling easier and more efficient.

Fix Skipping Gears

If your bike skips gears, loose cable tensioning is probably to blame. This is a common problem, especially right after the cable is replaced. To make your job easier, place the bike in a work stand. Shift to the smallest cog and turn the barrel adjuster for the rear derailleur clockwise for a half a turn. Pedal forward, shifting once.  If the chain doesn’t move to the next cog, give it another half turn. If you shift and it jumps two cogs, then you must turn the barrel adjuster a half turn counter clockwise.