Bicycle Tune Up Checklist: A Comprehensive Guide to Keeping Your Bike in Top Shape

bicycle tune up checklist

Deciding whether to tune up your bike yourself or take it to a professional can be difficult. This comprehensive bicycle tune up checklist covers the key areas DIYers can inspect and adjust for optimal performance.

Keeping your bike in top working order through regular tune ups is important for safety, performance and longevity. A proper tune up consists of cleaning, lubricating and adjusting various components to reduce friction and wear.

Table of Contents

Bicycle Tune-Up Checklist

Below is a detailed outline of the bicycle tune-up checklist, comprising 25 engaging headings and subheadings, designed to cover all aspects of maintaining your bicycle.

Tune-up ChecksDescription
1. Inspecting the Frame and Components– Checking for cracks and damages- Cleaning the frame
2. Cleaning and Lubricating the Chain– Using the right lubricant- Removing dirt and debris
3. Checking and Adjusting Brakes– Testing brake responsiveness- Adjusting brake pads
4. Inspecting and Inflating Tires– Looking for wear and tear- Proper tire pressure
5. Inspecting and Adjusting Wheels– Checking for trueness- Adjusting spoke tension
6. Checking and Adjusting Gears– Testing gear shifts- Adjusting derailleur
7. Examining and Adjusting Handlebars– Ensuring proper alignment- Adjusting handlebar height
8. Inspecting and Adjusting Seat and Saddle– Checking for damage- Adjusting saddle position
9. Examining and Adjusting Pedals– Ensuring smooth rotation- Tightening pedals
10. Inspecting and Greasing Bearings– Checking headset and bottom bracket bearings- Greasing bearings
11. Checking and Adjusting Cables– Testing cable tension- Adjusting cable position
12. Examining and Adjusting Braking System– Ensuring even brake pad wear- Adjusting brake levers
13. Inspecting and Cleaning Derailleurs– Checking for dirt and debris- Cleaning derailleurs
14. Checking and Tightening Bolts and Nuts– Inspecting for loose components- Tightening hardware
15. Examining and Adjusting the Chainring– Ensuring proper alignment- Adjusting chainring position
16. Inspecting and Adjusting the Cassette– Checking for wear- Adjusting cassette
17. Checking and Replacing Brake Cables– Inspecting for fraying- Replacing worn-out cables
18. Examining and Adjusting the Bottom Bracket– Checking for play- Adjusting bottom bracket
19. Inspecting and Adjusting the Headset– Checking for smooth steering- Adjusting headset
20. Checking and Replacing Brake Pads– Inspecting for wear- Replacing worn brake pads
21. Inspecting and Replacing Worn Tires– Checking tread depth- Replacing worn-out tires
22. Examining and Replacing Worn Chains– Measuring chain wear- Replacing stretched chains
23. Checking and Replacing Worn Pedals– Inspecting for play- Replacing worn pedals
24. Inspecting and Replacing Worn Grips and Tape– Checking for wear- Replacing grips and handlebar tape
25. Final Safety Check and Test Ride– Double-checking all adjustments- Taking a test ride

Now, let’s delve into each section of the bicycle tune-up checklist and explore the details to help you maintain your bicycle effectively.

Why Tune Up is Important

Riding a poorly maintained bike leads to inefficient pedaling, difficulty shifting, decreased braking power and higher risk of mechanical failure or accidents. Staying on top of maintenance ensures you get smooth shifts, quick acceleration and reliable stopping power.

What a Tune Up Consists Of

A complete tune up thoroughly cleans the frame, drivetrain and moving parts then adjusts accessories and systems including wheels, brakes, derailleurs and cables. The goal is optimizing function, reducing friction and preventing damage from dirt, rust and wear.

Safety First

Before hitting the road, do some basic safety checks to avoid accidents and breakdowns.

Checking Brakes

Test brakes at various speeds. There should be strong, consistent stopping power without squealing sounds. Center the pads on rims if needed.

Inspecting Wheels and Tires

Check tire pressure and inspect for cuts, bulges or cracks. Give wheels a spin to ensure straight and smooth rotation without wobble.

Ensuring Reflectors Work

Make sure reflectors are clean, straight and securely fastened for visibility to vehicles at night.


While cleaning your bike may seem purely for looks, it actually serves important functional purposes too.

Washing Frame

Use bike detergent and water to thoroughly clean the frame, handlebars and components. This removes dirt that causes premature wear and corrosion.

Cleaning Drivetrain

The drivetrain suffers grime buildup from chain lubricant and road debris attracting more dirt over time. Proper cleaning allows smooth shifting and pedaling.

Lubricating Chain

Wipe the chain down to remove dirt then apply fresh chain lube as friction here directly impacts pedaling efficiency.

Can You Put WD40 on Bike Chain? Read This First! 🛑

Tires and Wheels

Proper inflation and component checks are key to reducing rolling resistance while preventing flats or mechanical issues.

Inflating Tires

Use a gauge to inflate tires to the PSI rating on the sidewalls. Underinflation causes excess friction while overinflation leads to blowouts.

Inspecting Rims

Check rims and spokes for any cracks or deformation which can cause wheels to go out of true leading to braking issues and accidents.

Assessing Tread Depth

Look for worn tread lacking defined grooves as this greatly reduces grip on wet roads. Replace tires lacking sufficient tread depth.


Adjusting the drivetrain components is critical for smooth, quick shifting across gears whether on flats or hills.

Lubricating Chain

A freshly oiled chain prevents link corrosion and minimizes friction between plates promoting freely spinning cogs and fluid pedaling.

Don’t Let a Long Chain Ruin Your Ride! 🚲 Here’s How to Shorten It

Adjusting Derailleurs

Fine tune the front and rear derailleurs aligning them with each cog allowing clean shifts across the cassette without chain drops.

Checking Cables

Inspect shift cables for kinks or fraying which inhibits smooth gear transitions. Lubricate using light oil for reduced friction through cable housing.


Proper brake function is arguably the most important safety element to check, so take time to center the pads and test lever pressure.

Testing Brake Pads

Pads should contact rims squarely with plenty of friction causing strong deceleration without needing the levers pulled to the handlebars.

See also: Squeak No More! Here’s How to Fix a Squeaky Bike Brake

Centering Brake Pads on Rims

Align pads evenly on rim braking surfaces so equal pressure is applied avoiding scraping sounds or pull to one side while braking.

Adjusting Brake Cables

Cables stretch over time reducing lever pull force. Some adjusters allow tightening cables restoring strong pressure with shorter lever movement.


The handlebar area should provide comfortable positioning and shift/brake control through all riding conditions.

Lubricating Brake and Shifter Levers

A drop of light oil on lever pivots maintains smooth pivot action reducing strain to shift and brake.

Cleaning Handlebars

Wipe down handlebars to remove dirt buildup providing better grip and cleanly resting hands during longer rides.

Saddle and Seatpost

An improperly adjusted saddle results in discomfort, restricted pedaling efficiency and even knee pain over time.

Adjusting Saddle Height

Set saddle height allowing a slight leg bend at 6 o’clock pedal position avoiding overstretching or pedal scraping on the downstroke.

Adjusting Saddle Angle

Typically level parallel to the ground, tilt angle lightly up or down if needed to relieve pressure on sensitive areas.

Tightening Bolts

Inspect and tighten saddle clamp bolts and seatpost binder bolt to prevent twisting or slipping during riding.

Pedals and Crankset

cycle tune up checklist

Efficient pedaling relies on securely gripping pedals and smoothly spinning crank arms transferring power to the drivetrain.

Lubricating Pedals

Disassemble pedals to inject fresh grease on internal bearings/bushings allowing grippy spinning without seizure or looseness.

Checking Crank Arms

Grab crank arms trying to wiggle side to side checking for any play indicating worn bottom bracket bearings requiring replacement.

Assessing Pedal Clips

Inspect rubber on pedal clips replacing if excessively worn and test clipping in/out action which should be quick releasing without catching.

Steering System

The fork, headset and handlebars work in unison for precise steering control when carving corners or navigating obstacles.

Checking Headset

Straddle the front wheel and pull/push fork to check for headset play. Adjust if loose feeling or tight not allowing smooth steering.

Lubricating Headset

After adjusting, lubricate upper and lower headset bearings with light oil promoting long-lasting smooth rotation.

Centering Handlebars

Align handlebars evenly with front wheel for proper ergonomics and steering control. Tighten bolts preventing unwanted twisting.

Gear Shifting

Clean, adjusted drivetrain components allow fast precision shifts for optimizing cadence over changing terrain.

Adjusting Derailleur Limit Screws

Limit screws prevent overshift keeping the chain safely on cogs. Adjust to allow full cassette/chainring range without throwing the chain.

Indexing Gears

Meticulously trim cable tension and set barrel adjuster so each gear clicks cleanly into place without hesitant/delayed shifts.

Lubricating Shifters

A drop of light oil on shifter internals maintains their mechanical precision for years promoting smooth lever and cable movement.

Frame and Fork

Inspecting for damage and lubricating components prevents failure while suspension should move freely absorbing bumps.

Checking for Cracks and Damage

Carefully inspect the full frame and fork for any cracks, chips or deformation which can dangerously fail when riding.

Assessing Suspension Forks

Compression and rebound should feel smooth and consistent. Maintain lower legs by cleaning then lubricating bushings and Dust seals.


Proper illumination from bright, reliable lights greatly increases visibility helping avoid accidents when riding at night or in low light.

Testing Front and Rear Lights

Ensure all bike lights activate when cycling or braking. Replace batteries or bulbs immediately if any appear dim or flicker off.

Replacing Batteries

Carry spare CR2032 or AA batteries while riding. Lithium batteries have a 10-year shelf life making them an ideal replacement option.

Rust Protection

Use these tips for preventing and treating any rust protecting your bike’s appearance and structural integrity.

Touching Up Paint Chips

Clean any paint chips then dab touch-up paint on damaged areas preventing moisture reaching vulnerable metal leading to rust.

Applying Rust Inhibitor

Wipe frame with auto rust inhibitor after washing. Reapply monthly for added protection from corrosion on internal surfaces.

Bolt and Nut Check

Loose components can dangerously shift or rattle free when riding demanding checking and tightening all nuts and bolts.

Tightening Loose Parts

Feel and visually inspect all accessory mounts, rack/fender bolts, bottle cage bolts etc tightening any found loose with the proper tool.

Replacing Damaged Bolts/Nuts

Carefully check each bolt and nut replacing any with stripped threads, cracks or excessive corrosion which weakens their retention strength.

Chain Lubrication

The chain directly transfers pedal power to the wheel rotation making lubrication vital for maximal efficiency.

See also: Calculate Bicycle Chain Length

Proper Lubricants to Use

Use quality bicycle chain oil or wax allowing penetration between inner links with periodic reapplication for minimal friction.

How Often to Lubricate

Clean then relube the chain every 300-500 miles or when links appear dry. Riding in wet/muddy conditions demands more frequent lubrication.

Brake and Shifter Adjustments

Proper lever sensitivity and derailleur alignment are needed for smoothly stopping and shifting across gears.

Brake Centering and Pad Adjustments

Center each brake pad evenly over the wheel rim so they contact evenly for straight confident stops.

Derailleur Adjustments

Set limit screws and fine tune cable tension eliminating hesitant shifting and avoiding throwing the chain off gears when cornering.

Tire Tread and Pressure

Maintaining inflation pressure and sufficient tread depth promotes grip essential for controlled handling in all conditions.

Inflate tires to the PSI recommended on the sidewalls based on your weight and riding preference for grip vs. lower rolling resistance.

When to Replace Worn Tires

Look for tread groove depth under 2mm as limited tread impairs wet braking. Some tires have wear indicators signaling replacement time.

Cleaning and Polish

While keeping your bike shiny looks nice, cleaning and polishing also reduces long-term corrosion and wear.

Frame Cleaning Tips

Gently wash with specialized bicycle soap or diluted mild detergent using a soft brush lifting road grime from crevices.

Apply bike polish containing protective Carnauba wax softly buffing paint for brilliant shine while guarding against UV damage.

Smooth Shifting

Crisp gear transitions rely on proper derailleur, cables, housings and lever condition for years of confident shifting.

Cable Lubrication

Light oil inside cable housing reduces friction as hardened housing and inner cables attract contaminants over time hindering shift precision.

Limit Screw Adjustment

With perfect cable tension, set limit screws to prevent over-shift without limiting needed gear range size for varied terrain.

Squeaks and Creaks

Locate any annoying squeaks or creaks and lubricate joints to silence noises and reduce wear promoting quiet smooth function.

Locating Sources of Noise

Systematically isolate areas by cleaning sections while testing to pinpoint exactly where sounds originate from on your bike.

Lubricating Joints

Lubricate indicated creaky pivot points using penetrating oils and grease promoting silent operation and longevity.

Upgrade Opportunities

Consider some component upgrades providing meaningful performance gains adding modern tech and riding enjoyment.

New Wheels

Quality wheelsets feature durable seamless rim construction, fast engaging hubs and may include tubeless tire compatibility.

Composite Pedals

Nylon or carbon pedal bodies shave weight while the extra grippy platform offers sure-footed power transfer.

Suspension Seat Post

Easy upgrade adding bump absorption great for hardtails with some lever controlled compression options available.

Do-It-Yourself vs Professional Service

Some basic maintenance you can easily handle yourself while advanced repairs often demand shop tools and expertise.

Complex Jobs for Professionals

Leave major jobs like headset/bottom bracket replacement and wheel truing/building to experienced mechanics with special tools.

Basic Tasks You Can Do

This tune up checklist covers numerous fundamental adjustments from brake pads to derailleurs well within reach of home mechanics.

Maintaining Your Investment

Regularly and properly caring for your bike extends its lifespan maintaining safety, performance and reliability through endless miles.

Routine Schedule to Follow

Clean frame biweekly while checking function and replacing consumables like brake pads before they are fully worn helps prevent damage.

Extending Bike Lifespan

Avoid waiting until things break by performing basic tune up adjustments allowing components to operate as designed lasting for many trouble-free years.

Bicycle Tune Up Checklist FAQs

How often should you tune up a bike?

Thoroughly tune up your bike every six months inspecting all components or after roughly 300-500 miles adjusting parts and lubricating as needed. The frequency depends on riding conditions and how much you rely on your bike’s performance.

What tools do you need for a bike tune up?

Common tools include hex wrenches, screwdrivers, cable cutters, chain lube, degreaser, rags and bike-specific lubricants. Specialty tools like spoke wrenches, bottom bracket tools or a derailleur hanger gauge allow adjusting some components.

Can I tune up my bike myself?

Yes, this tune up checklist covers several basic adjustments and inspections you can absolutely perform at home without advanced mechanical experience using some basic bike tools. Leave more complex component replacements to the pros.

What happens during a professional bike tune up?

Shops thoroughly clean every component then methodically inspect, adjust and lubricate all moving parts ensuring flawless functioning. Many provide tune up service levels from basic adjustments up to complete overhauls rebuilding parts as needed.

How much does a professional bike tune up cost?

Bike shop tune up costs typically range from $60 up to $250 depending on the service level. Basic adjustments average around $80 while higher-end road/mountain bikes may cost over $200 for advanced drivetrain cleaning, precision tuning and parts replacements.


While modern bikes are quite reliable, periodic at-home maintenance checks save money and ensure safety by catching issues before they cause breakdowns or accidents on your next ride. Simply follow this bicycle tune up checklist inspecting key areas adjusting accessories as needed.

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