Bike Tune-Up Advice

Extend the life of your bike with this bike tune-up advice

When does my bicycle need a tune-up? This is a common question. The answer is not cut and dried. Every bicycle is in a state of getting out of tune due to riding, transporting, and/or storing it. All these things wear on your bike in a way that will make the ride less than perfect. This bike tune-up advice below will keep you and your bike happy!

There are a handful of cyclists with mechanical skills that allow them to work on their bikes before and after every ride. For most cyclists, that is not the case. On average, tune-ups are only scheduled once a year. Other cyclists will wait until the bike needs work beyond the standard tune-up. This can lead to more costly repairs involving component replacement.

To be blunt, anyone who truly cares about having a smooth running bicycle should learn some basic bicycle maintenance. This can include derailleur adjustments, eliminating squeaks, and wheel truing.

Bike tune-up frequency

In general, if someone is okay at derailleur adjustments and wheel truing, they can get one professional tune-up per year. This could include a new chain, tires, and handlebar tape. If you service your bike frequently, you will increase the life expectancy of your components. You will be happier and more comfortable with one bike for a longer amount of time.

There are several factors that may cause your bike to need extra attention each year. The first is numerous race wheel swap outs. The second is transporting the bike on a regular basis. The third is racing your bike. Please know that it is okay to swap wheels, travel, and race. But you should also know that there are some issues associated with each.

If you want a very smooth ride without working on the bike yourself, you should schedule tune-ups more frequently. This could be as many as three times per year if you are a high-mileage cyclist.

If you take care of your bike, it will take care of you. If you don’t take care of your bike, call James Balentine with City Limit Cycles!

How to Wrap Your Handlebars

Expand your grease monkey skills when you learn how to wrap your handlebars

The more you can learn about your bike the better. You become more knowledgeable about bikes in general while becoming more intimate with your bike and all of its nuances. Riders who ride often might re-wrap their handlebars annually. You can wrap yours as needed, for example, if it becomes worn or scuffed. Keep in mind, the longer your Jack’s Generic Tri training rides, the more sweat, hydration, nutrition, etc. get on or in the tape. Whether you want to change your handlebar tape every year or every five years, the steps below will properly guide you.

Need: handlebar tape, electrical tape, scissors

Remove old tape

Flip back both brake lever hoods and remove the old tape.

Align brake levers

Check the alignment of your brake levers. The bottom of each lever should be in line with the bottom of the handlebars. They should also be in line with the side of your bars. Make sure the cables are securely fastened to the front side of the handlebar using electrical tape.

Begin wrapping

Start with the right side. Your new tape should have come with two extra 3″ strips of tape. Wrap this around the bottom of the brake clamp from the rear end. Unpeel a bit of the adhesive backing and start by placing the end of the tape under the end of the bars. You’ll want to leave about half of the tape hanging over the edge on the first wrap. The most common direction to wrap the tape is clockwise on the right side and counter-clockwise on the left.

While wrapping

Make sure each rotation overlaps itself by about one-third. You’ll want to make sure the middle section of adhesive on the backside of the tape is always contacting the bars. Pull on the tape evenly through the process to keep the wrap tight, but be very careful not to pull too hard or the fragile tape will snap. Pull off the adhesive backing as you go. This will keep it from getting dirty until you’re ready to apply it.

Wrap around the lever

When you get to the brake lever, try to make sure the top edge of the tape overlaps a little bit of the bottom of the brake lever in order to avoid leaving a gap. Then pull the tape around the back end of the brake clamp and over the top. Now pull the tape around and continue wrapping the top section of the handlebar. Stop wrapping when you get about an inch from the stem.

Cut and tape

Holding the tape in place, cut the remaining angled section of tape away. Then secure it with a few wraps of electrical tape. Make sure to pull the tape so that it stretches nice and evenly. Overlap the end of the handlebar tape and completely seal it with the electrical tape.

Bar end plugs

Once the wrapping is done, go back to the bar end and tuck the extra tape into the handlebars using the bar plug. To wrap the left side, repeat the same procedure. Remember to start wrapping the tape counter-clockwise instead. Flip your brake lever hoods back to where they were.