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  1. #1
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    Keeping your bike in tune

    How long are you suppose to go before needing a tuneup? I got a tune up a few months ago and now my gear shifts are rough and the chain came off my front gear a few times.

    I've never been good at getting my shifting right. I've watched youtube videos and I just end up making it worse than when I started so I take it in and pay 60 bucks. When the guy at the shop does it my bike runs so nice. I wan't to be able to do that on my own.

    Is the front derailleur suppose to hit the chain at all? it's annoying.

    I am going to invest in a bike stand because doing it with the bike turned upside down is not working.

  2. #2
    blah blah blah milkbaby's Avatar
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    This site is very good for explaining repairs and maintenance: http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by trunolimit View Post
    How long are you suppose to go before needing a tuneup? I got a tune up a few months ago and now my gear shifts are rough and the chain came off my front gear a few times.

    I've never been good at getting my shifting right. I've watched youtube videos and I just end up making it worse than when I started so I take it in and pay 60 bucks. When the guy at the shop does it my bike runs so nice. I wan't to be able to do that on my own.


    Is the front derailleur suppose to hit the chain at all? it's annoying.

    I am going to invest in a bike stand because doing it with the bike turned upside down is not working.
    You can do it just as well. It's not brain surgery just simple mechanics. Get familiar with how your bike works and do some reading. Bike stand is a great investment.

  4. #4
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    I've always felt that videos are a good supplement but a poor way to learn proper procedure. It's just too easy to leave out important details. I recommend two strategies for you.

    FIRST - Google what you want to learn, such as adjust front derailleur and ignore the video results for now. Look for the links from sheldonbrown.com and parktool.com and thoroughly study them. Do not skip ahead, especially with a front derailleur, as it's position is as important as adjusting it. Study the procedures on both sites, and check on cable lubrication and installation as well.

    THEN - See if you can get in-person help to apply what you've learned, especially if you are still having problems. See if there's a bike co-op, a knowledgeable friend, or a shop that offers basic maintenance clinics. Try to find someone who knows how to explain the "why" behind a procedure, rather than just "turn this screw clockwise."
    There's no such thing as a routine repair.

    Don't tell me what "should" be - either it is, it isn't, or do something about it.

    If you think I'm being blunt take it as a compliment - if I thought you were too weak to handle the truth or a strong opinion I would not bother.

    Please take the time to post clearly so we can answer quickly. All lowercase and multiple typos makes for a hard read. Thanks!

  5. #5
    don't try this at home. rm -rf's Avatar
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    It's way, way easier with a bike stand.

    Rear Derailleur


    Like milkbaby said, follow the Park Tool instructions, the rear derailleur is here.. Just verify the high and low limit screws are set correctly (they should be fine) and then leave them alone. They are just used to keep the chain from going past the big or small cog.

    Shifting doesn't work very well if there's no load on the back wheel. I usually scrunch up a paper towel and put it between the brakes and the tire to get a little resistance when I'm turning the crank by hand.

    Then use the barrel adjuster to center the shifting.

    First, I upshift (use the term "upshift" just like a car to go to faster gears) to the smallest cog (and on the big chainring), then downshift one and see that it moves to the next cog. Sometimes, when I'm starting the adjusting, there's too much slack, and nothing happens on the first click.

    Then I downshift to the biggest cog (and on the small chainring) and make sure it shifts onto it easily. And check that there's clearance between the spokes and the derailleur when on the big cog.

    I'm getting close when both big and small cogs shift correctly. Now it's just tiny fractional turns of the adjuster barrel to get the cogs centered.

    I like to get it just about right, then look from the back of the bike to see if the chain is too close to the cogs on one side. Check it after upshifting a few cogs, and also check after downshifting a couple of clicks.

    The adjustment process gets faster as you get more practice, but it'll take a while to get it just right the first time.

    Now you can fine tune it in a few minutes any time it starts making noises.

    The next step is to to be able replace your own cables after you get good at shifter adjustments!

    Front derailleur

    I rarely adjust this. If you have bad front shifting, see if the derailleur cage is aligned with the chainrings, and there's not too much gap between the cage and the chainring.

    And check the high and low limit screws to help keep the chain from coming off the chainrings.
    Last edited by rm -rf; 08-18-14 at 08:17 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Dave Cutter's Avatar
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    I've always been a believer in the phrase: If you can't fix it you don't own it. The concept follows that in reality you're really just renting your bike from the repair guy.

    A bicycle work stand is handy even when just washing a bicycle. The work stand was the first bicycle specific tool I bought. Then I got more. At first I borrowed a bicycle repair manual from the library. Then I bought one. I also attended a bicycle maintenance class at the local performance bicycle shop. I hung around the bicycle co-op where bicycle knowledge is shared for free. And I still watch lots of the bicycle videos on Youtube.

    I've bought old but still valued 10 speeds off Craigslist for winter wrenching projects. I've found I really enjoy working on bikes.

  7. #7
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    Nice feedback thanks everyone. I've got 2 days off so I will try it out. But in my experience I just make things worse. I am looking into bike repair guides now.

  8. #8
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    I've got the idiots guide to bike maintenance and bike maintenance for dummies. I've spent the last 20 minutes on the idiots guide and man it really feels like an idiots guide. I feel like a third grader repeating the second grade.

  9. #9
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    haha, keep reading. sometimes its the tiny nugget of 3rd grade material that you haven't learned thatll hold you back.

    first time I installed a front derailleur I didn't consider how high it should be, and it shifted really poorly. Had I carefully read the park site, I'd have know. Bike mechanics is about doing the simple things really well.

  10. #10
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    Yeah I learned how much I didn't know when recertifying for my ccna. Lots of tiny missed nuggets.

    funny about the front derailleur. On my last bike I didn't consider that it had to clear the big gear and made a mess of things. This bike is weird. It seems to only have 1 position for the front derailleur. There isn't any play as far as position goes.

    i have a giant OCR one.

  11. #11
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    Do I need a spoke tension meter.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by trunolimit View Post
    Do I need a spoke tension meter.
    I would say don't worry about this, at least for now. Well built wheels rarely go out of true. I haven't had to touch the wheels on my primary bike in ages and they can take what our roads dish out with no problem.

    Adjustments related to shifting and brakes are going to more useful on a regular basis.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by cafzali View Post
    I would say don't worry about this, at least for now. Well built wheels rarely go out of true. I haven't had to touch the wheels on my primary bike in ages and they can take what our roads dish out with no problem.

    Adjustments related to shifting and brakes are going to more useful on a regular basis.
    My wheels must suck than because it's gotten to the point where I ha e to ride with my rear breaks disengaged.

  14. #14
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trunolimit View Post
    My wheels must suck than because it's gotten to the point where I ha e to ride with my rear breaks disengaged.
    Goodness, you really do need help. Sorry, I don't mean for that to sound like an insult. Perhaps your mechanic is not serving you all that well. Or maybe you need to get some tips on riding your bike more gently.

    If you're in my area, I'd be happy to give you mechanical lessons. If not, maybe someone in your area could.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
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  15. #15
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    What make and model of bike?
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  16. #16
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    It's a Giant OCR 1.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Delmarva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trunolimit View Post
    How long are you suppose to go before needing a tuneup? I got a tune up a few months ago and now my gear shifts are rough and the chain came off my front gear a few times.

    I've never been good at getting my shifting right. I've watched youtube videos and I just end up making it worse than when I started so I take it in and pay 60 bucks. When the guy at the shop does it my bike runs so nice. I wan't to be able to do that on my own.

    Is the front derailleur suppose to hit the chain at all? it's annoying.

    I am going to invest in a bike stand because doing it with the bike turned upside down is not working.
    Presumably the tune-up you paid for a few months ago included derailleur adjustments. I think you should take the bike back to fix the problem because the front unit really should not go out that fast. Unless it got banged into something.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by trunolimit View Post
    My wheels must suck than because it's gotten to the point where I ha e to ride with my rear breaks disengaged.
    There's a midpoint between wheels that aren't right for you and wheels that are performance oriented, cost a ton and aren't what you need. I'd say you need a good mid-range set. Depending on the bike, odds are it may have come with a wheelset that isn't strong (called stiff in wheel context) for you. Having said that, you can easily get a good set of wheels that will do what you want for $500 or less.

    Don't know what kind of bike you have, but I've been amazed how poor some of the OEM wheelsets are -- even on $1,200 bikes. Even if you were good at truing your wheels, at a certain point, it would get upsetting because you shouldn't have to be truing them that much.

  19. #19
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    Depends....I put alot of miles on my bike,so it gets looked at every weekend.....It's in a constant state of "tune-up"......It gets cleaned and serviced,whatever that may be....could be just a washing or like last weekend,it got a new chain and cassette and all bolts got checked.

    Tired of clicking and rubbing and dicking with your shifters?....Throw the index shifters in the trash....There,fixed that problem for ya.....

    Have your wheels serviced well and you should not have to touch them unless something bad happens.

    You can do this work yourself,except maybe wheels at first....Take your time,do one thing at a time so you know what that does.Just takes some practice.
    Last edited by Booger1; 08-20-14 at 12:07 PM.
    Everything should be as simple as possible...But not more so.---Albert Einstein

  20. #20
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    We'll I guess I am a bit aggressive when riding. I've got a couple of stock (I'm guessing) mavic wheels.

    Interesting fact I found while reading the idiots guide is shimano doesn't offer sealed hubs. There are all sorts of little things I had no clue on. Like the reason racing seats are so minimal is most of your weight is not on the seat as opposed to a normal everyday bike were you are sitting mostly upright and the seat needs to hold a higher load. I have a racing seat and I ride upright so that explains a lot.

    also I've been through about 3 bikes in the past 4 years and it's been the same experience. I go get a tune up (multiple places although one place in the lower east side only charged me 14 bucks which I miss) and about a month later my bike feels like crap.
    Last edited by trunolimit; 08-20-14 at 01:23 PM.

  21. #21
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Well, something is clearly wrong. First, that bike is not well suited to commuting on New York's streets. It can only accept very narrow tires.

    What do you mean you ride upright? Your seat is much higher than your handlebars, so either you ride sitting up with your hands off the bars, or you don't know what upright means.

    You go through a lot of bikes. Do you trash them to the point of them not being usable, or are they being stolen? Are you writing clearly? I ask because the more you say, the more questions I have. A well made bike, if taken care of, will last a lifetime. Something is wrong or missing (or both) with your story.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
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  22. #22
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    I don't "tune" my bike, I'm "in tune" with my bike.

    Every time that I ride I make a mental list of things I want to do to that bike before I ride it again. If the shifting isn't quite right or if the chain is making too much noise, whatever. Then I take care of those things. That's all that I do.
    My greatest fear is all of my kids standing around my coffin and talking about "how sensible" dad was.

  23. #23
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    Since you have a skinny tire bike in NYC, you need to "ride light" when the road is potholed or otherwise rough. That means weaving around the pothole when possible, and if not then getting your butt off the saddle so the bike can move and your legs absorb the impact, instead of sitting heavy on the saddle and slamming the bike into the hole so that the rear wheel gets pounded. Don't ride off curbs. Sometimes you may have to slow and pick your way through obstacles. Keep your tires inflated to over 120 psi.

    If you want to see bikes that are designed to survive NYC streets with riders who don't ride light, look at the Citibikes or the fat tired bikes that the delivery men ride. You don't have one of those, so you have to ride light or accept having a half-working bike with out of true and maybe dented wheels.

    The front derailleur/shifting issue sounds like you bent a chainring, or you didn't get a good tune up, or there is something wrong with the derailleur or shifter.

    People who say they "ride aggressively" and go through bikes , in my experience, are slamming through potholes, jumping off curbs, and otherwise beating up bikes. Which is fine if you have the money to buy a new bike or new wheels every six months.
    Last edited by jyl; 08-20-14 at 07:51 PM.
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  24. #24
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Last edited by noglider; 08-21-14 at 12:53 PM.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

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    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
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  25. #25
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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