Save by Tuning Up Your Own Bike

Cycling is a great way to save money on commuting expenses. If you know how to tune up your own bike, you can save even more by avoiding the shop and extending the life of your ride. Here are some simple, ValuePenguin-researched bike-maintenance chores that you can handle yourself.

The Average Tune-up

Pricing varies from shop to shop and across regions, of course, but Wheel Works is a bike shop in Massachusetts that has a comprehensive list of pricing for bike maintenance and repair. It charges $79 for a basic tune-up. Bring your bike in a few times a year – it’s recommended to tune up often if you’re riding every day -- and you will be spending hundreds of dollars for something you can do yourself in about an hour.

It's also a good idea to know how to do some basic bike maintenance in case you run into a problem while out on a long ride. After all, there is no AAA for cyclists, no matter where your city ranks among the best for bikers.

What You Need to Do It Yourself

You will need to invest in a few basic tools to do your own tune-ups. A wrench, Allen key, some bike lubricant and de-greaser are the necessities. You can buy all of them for under $40.

What You Can Do

Lubricate and Clean

You can keep your bike in good working order by cleaning, lubricating and making some minor adjustments. Wipe the chain and drive train with a towel. If there is a lot of grease and dirt you'll want to give it a few shots of de-greaser and get in there with a small brush; an old tooth brush will work just fine.

After you've taken care of the chain and drive train, you can wash the body of the bike. You don't need to buy special “bike cleaner.” Any old dish washing liquid works just as well.

Next, you want to lubricate. If you don't, the bearings grind against the metal and your bike won't function as smoothly as it should. Don't overdo it. Too much lubrication attracts dirt and grit, which can cause the very problem you're trying to prevent. It's also a waste of money. You just need a few drops on the tops and bottoms of the links in your chain and a few drops where the brake cable goes into its housing. Wipe away any excess lubricant with a dry cloth.

The Brakes

Check out your brake pads. You want to look for wear lines and any metal sticking out of the pads. If you see either of these things, the pads need to be replaced. Make sure the pads are stopping the wheels, not the tires. Check the cables for signs of wear. Plus, if you see a few areas that are rusted or any loose strands, they need to be replaced.

The Tires

Use a pressure gauge and make sure the PSI matches the recommended number, which can be found on the tires. Check for any rot and make sure the tread isn't too worn down. Look for any cracks; out on the road, a crack can lead to a blowout, which can cause an accident.

Check your spokes for any that have become warped and replace those that have. You can do this yourself, but if you aren't sure what you're doing, a bike shop will do it for about $15.

When to Hit the Shop

There are some things better left to the pros. If you've had a crash and think there may be major damage (such as an alignment issue), have the bike inspected. If a major system needs to be replaced, you probably don't have the tools even if you have the know-how.

If you're purchasing a used bike, have it checked out at a shop, ideally before you buy it. There may be damage that you can't see that could make the bike unsafe to ride.

Riding on four wheels instead of one? See if you can also “DIY” for your automobile.

The article Save by Tuning up Your Own Bike originally appeared on ValuePenguin.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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