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What is your "tune-up" checklist?

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What is your "tune-up" checklist?

Old 11-25-21, 11:34 AM
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ottovaughn
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What is your "tune-up" checklist?

Hi all,

A bit of background here to start - I've been getting more and more hands-on with my family's bikes and I also am taking a course on bike mechanics at the local university. I've been toying with the idea of taking my bike stand and maintenance supplies/tools to a weekly BBQ that is hosted by a non-profit for our city's homeless population. These folks often use bikes as their main source of transportation, and it's not like they can just drop in to a LBS and pay for someone to check out their bike. Likewise they may not be able to afford basic things like degreaser or chain lubricant. The idea is that I would be there each week to do these basic tasks and then if a part needs replacing, I could ask the local LBS owner (a good family friend) for a discount, buy it myself (within reason, of course...chains are much easier to replace than a whole drivetrain), and then replace it for that person the next week.

My question here is this - what is the checklist that you go through when you are looking at a bike for a tune-up? Also, what are the key things that you look for to make sure that the bike is still safe to ride?
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Old 11-25-21, 12:21 PM
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I see so many bikes with no brakes that would be first. often no cable but sometimes missing parts too.
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Old 11-25-21, 01:56 PM
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I think of a tune up as what needs to be done to get the bike in top running shape. Your post seems to go more along the lines of actually getting the bike to ride. That is a bit different and one should know even without riding the bike if the bike is rideable. Chains would be the least of my worries as long as they are attached and the cranks turn. Tune ups involve getting brakes set to perform at the best level. That means the cables are in good shape and the brakes don't rub the rim or rotor depending on what you have. The bike should shift and again that has to do with cable and housing being in good shape.

A tune up for one person is different in some sense than another but new cables, possibly new tires, chain, and lube everything. In my case I am a self taught mechanic and my own bike tune up is different. I wash the bike good to get any crude off. Then I clean the chain with OMS and lube it. I adjust the rim brakes and make sure they are centered. The next level of my own tune up is usually I have to replace the rear cable and rear loop as they tend to take the most beating. The cable and get frayed in the shifter and break off at that point so best to change it out before that happens checking. Included in further tune-ups may be new tires because when I put new tires on the bike it is a good time to do the rest.

Truing wheels would be the other item but once they get true and are settled in that should be minimal unless you go over some huge pot holes. The issue with this is that the bike you might be looking to tune up of those depending on them for transportation, such as homeless and those with no means to buy cars, also means the bikes they have will be very utilitarian. In many cases they will have old parts and wheels that may not really true well. They may have poor braking systems that are squishy and much less reliable. These bike are very different from the roadie type bike or my titanium 11 speed with Shimano. In fact tuning up a racing bike or well made gravel bike is much easier in some sense than working on these utilitarian bikes of various types. Nothing at all wrong with bikes of this kind they serve a fantastic purpose of transportation and getting things done. However they also tend to have greater tolerances for errors and what is acceptable.

If my bike does not shift clean and perfect all the time then to me I have an issue and I need to get it addressed. The grocery store bike with baskets and rakes to carry things just needs to reasonable work well. The wheels don't need to be perfectly true and as long as the bike shifts the chain probably is fine. Tires are easy just look at them and see. In the end none of this is rocket science just basic good bike sense and working within the parameters of what a person has and needs. My bikes all have Conti GP 5000's on them but for some a good quality tire can be had for less than 1/2 of what a GP5000's is easily.
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Old 11-25-21, 02:33 PM
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Homeless population I'd be looking at cables, brake pads, truing wheels, lubing & adjusting drivetrain.
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Old 11-25-21, 03:34 PM
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If you're not checking every last thing you're doing it wrong. Front to back, top to bottom...every fastener and everything that can be adjusted. Tires, wheels, brakes, h/s, bb, hubs, shifting...everything.
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Old 11-25-21, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by ottovaughn View Post
Hi all,

.... I've been toying with the idea of taking my bike stand and maintenance supplies/tools to a weekly BBQ that is hosted by a non-profit for our city's homeless population. These folks often use bikes as their main source of transportation, and it's not like they can just drop in to a LBS and pay for someone to check out their bike.
Brace yourself. One local Co-op had a homeless camp move into close proximity, and eventually grow to a population of hundreds. I spent many afternoons and evenings at the shop helping out as a mechanic.

The kind of bikes that came from the camp were not what you would expect. What we mostly saw were full-suspension mountain bikes, some department store junk, and some high-end. This is despite there being no opportunity for mountain biking anywhere near - go figure. Then there were a lot of adult-sized BMX bikes, usually good ones, and usually without brakes. Finally, we saw a lot of very complex and customized Frankenbikes and bike trailers. So bikes with unusual drivetrains, gearing, cockpits, gas motors etc.

Biggest issue: the bikes were often a mish-mash of mixed up components. So the wrong diameter wheels, disc rotors didn't match up with the calipers, wrong hub dimensions for the frame, the shifters didn't match the number of cogs at the rear, wrong sized seatposts, etc. etc. It was if someone tore complex bikes apart and threw them randomly back together and left us to figure out the jumble. So the camp repairs were among the most complex and challenging we've ever undertaken. Many were irreparable, such as the case of spending a frustrating hour trying to hack a missing rear derailleur hanger, or figure out how to install a front derailleur on a 50-pound full-sus downhill rig. Forks: don't get me going. I saw so many bizarre fork/headset problems I couldn't count them, including a series of bikes that came into the shop in which the 'installer' had used scrunched-up aluminum foil in the place of ball bearings.

So the biggest problem we faced was not maintenance, but complex trouble shooting and re-assembly.
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Old 11-25-21, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by ottovaughn View Post
Hi all,

A bit of background here to start - I've been getting more and more hands-on with my family's bikes and I also am taking a course on bike mechanics at the local university. I've been toying with the idea of taking my bike stand and maintenance supplies/tools to a weekly BBQ that is hosted by a non-profit for our city's homeless population. These folks often use bikes as their main source of transportation, and it's not like they can just drop in to a LBS and pay for someone to check out their bike. Likewise they may not be able to afford basic things like degreaser or chain lubricant. The idea is that I would be there each week to do these basic tasks and then if a part needs replacing, I could ask the local LBS owner (a good family friend) for a discount, buy it myself (within reason, of course...chains are much easier to replace than a whole drivetrain), and then replace it for that person the next week.

My question here is this - what is the checklist that you go through when you are looking at a bike for a tune-up? Also, what are the key things that you look for to make sure that the bike is still safe to ride?
As a long term volunteer who has dealt with a lot of homeless people and bicycles, Iíll tell you that you are going to be doing a whole lot more triage than maintenance. Donít plan on getting parts to replace the next week because the bikes arenít likely to come back either because the person canít get back or because the bicycle gets stollen. The bicycle inventory in the homeless population is very fluid.

Because you are dealing with bikes that are train wrecks at best, donít think of a ďcheck listĒ. Think of what is most specifically wrong with the bike. Ask the rider and try to focus on what they say is the problem. Donít go looking for extra work.

The League of American Bicyclist use ABC safety checkÖair, brakes, chainÖbut I hate that acronym because it only addresses one ďsafetyĒ issue. I prefer QRS which stands for Quick release (or check that the wheels are on), Rolls (make sure the bike rolls with air in the tires and the bearings are in good enough shape) and Stop (the brakes work). Thatís about all you can do unless you have more than a single person. Donít try to make the bike factory fresh. Just make sure the wheels are on, the bike will roll, and the bike will stop. If you have more time, you can work on other things but generally, you wonít have time.

My co-op gives 90 minutes on the stand (they can go back in the queue if they like) but even with 90 minutes, you arenít likely to be address all the problems these bikes have.
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Old 11-25-21, 06:16 PM
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I don't mean to be a good deed killer here but often the homeless steal many of the bikes and parts they have. It's a huge problem in my city and the police just seized a 20ft storage container down the block from me with about 25 bike frames and misc. parts plus a bunch of other stolen items. The thief is well known in the neighborhood for running a bike chop shop with other homeless and very difficult for the police to do anything about. I see this all over on my rides. I can't offer too many suggestions as to how to deal with the people that come to the co-op but if the same person keeps showing up with different bikes you might want to limit the amount of times they can use the shop. Also maybe requiring them to allow you to take a photo of them with their bikes might make them nervous if they are knowingly in possession of a stolen bike.
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Old 11-25-21, 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by ottovaughn View Post
what is the checklist that you go through when you are looking at a bike for a tune-up? Also, what are the key things that you look for to make sure that the bike is still safe to ride?
  • True wheels
  • Adjust hubs
  • Adjust brakes
  • Adjust shifting (may require hanger alignment)
  • Check and tighten headset, seatpost bolt, saddle rail bolt, stem bolts, quick releases or axle bolts
  • Check crankarms, bottom bracket, and pedals for tightness
  • Inspect tires; replace if worn
  • Inspect derailleur cables and housing; replace if worn
  • Lubricate and inspect chain; replace if worn
  • Inspect brake pads; replace if worn
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Old 11-26-21, 01:10 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
As a long term volunteer who has dealt with a lot of homeless people and bicycles, I’ll tell you that you are going to be doing a whole lot more triage than maintenance. Don’t plan on getting parts to replace the next week because the bikes aren’t likely to come back either because the person can’t get back or because the bicycle gets stollen. The bicycle inventory in the homeless population is very fluid.

Because you are dealing with bikes that are train wrecks at best, don’t think of a “check list”. Think of what is most specifically wrong with the bike. Ask the rider and try to focus on what they say is the problem. Don’t go looking for extra work.

The League of American Bicyclist use ABC safety check…air, brakes, chain…but I hate that acronym because it only addresses one “safety” issue. I prefer QRS which stands for Quick release (or check that the wheels are on), Rolls (make sure the bike rolls with air in the tires and the bearings are in good enough shape) and Stop (the brakes work). That’s about all you can do unless you have more than a single person. Don’t try to make the bike factory fresh. Just make sure the wheels are on, the bike will roll, and the bike will stop. If you have more time, you can work on other things but generally, you won’t have time.

My co-op gives 90 minutes on the stand (they can go back in the queue if they like) but even with 90 minutes, you aren’t likely to be address all the problems these bikes have.
All real world advice and very true. In addition to our volunteer shop we also sets up a portable shop once a week for at a local homeless agency, our limit there is 30 minutes on the stand per bike so that we have time to take care of everyone that rolls in that day. If it is estimated to be more then that then we tell them to visit us at the shop during the week. Tubes/tires, chains, brakes, kickstands, saddle, grips, quick tightness check are the norm with an occasional derailleur. If the bike is not rideable, we normally offer a swap out with one from the repaired stock.

cyccommute speaks wisdom and experience about follow-up on bikes that needed a part on a return visit, we still try to do that and our limit is to hold that part for three weeks, after that if the bike doesn't show the part goes back to stock, some do show as promised but far and few between, ......very frustrating
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Old 01-09-22, 06:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Crankycrank View Post
I don't mean to be a good deed killer here but often the homeless steal many of the bikes and parts they have. It's a huge problem in my city and the police just seized a 20ft storage container down the block from me with about 25 bike frames and misc. parts plus a bunch of other stolen items. The thief is well known in the neighborhood for running a bike chop shop with other homeless and very difficult for the police to do anything about. I see this all over on my rides. I can't offer too many suggestions as to how to deal with the people that come to the co-op but if the same person keeps showing up with different bikes you might want to limit the amount of times they can use the shop. Also maybe requiring them to allow you to take a photo of them with their bikes might make them nervous if they are knowingly in possession of a stolen bike.
So this homeless person was pushing a 20ft shipping container around on a couple shopping carts?
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Old 01-09-22, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by bark_eater View Post
So this homeless person was pushing a 20ft shipping container around on a couple shopping carts?
Right. The Shell gas station down the street for some reason decided to allow this well known meth addict and thief to use their empty storage container on their lot to store his goods. They have also allowed in the past several homeless people to operate a bike chop shop in plain view in the back of their property only stopping it when a few locals complained. Police have a difficult time prosecuting them for anything as it's hard to identify the owners of each item such as yard furniture, tools, bikes and prove they were stolen. I have also seen the guy punch a woman on who he hangs around with on two separate occasions and in front of at least 15 other witnesses but police seem to be unable to do anything as the woman won't press charges and disappears when they try to locate her. Police have plenty of other crimes to take care of here so petty theft is low on the totem pole as well as drug damaged, homeless violence against each other. So there you go and why it's a good idea to try and do something, anything to discourage bike thieves from using the donated services and supplies provided by many good people that enables their thievery.
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Old 01-09-22, 10:00 AM
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So did they move into your neighborhood or did you move into theirs? Or did y'all grow up together?
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Old 01-09-22, 12:36 PM
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Hopefully helpful, I have this list printed out in my shop:
https://www.vicsclassicbikes.com/wp-..._checklist.pdf
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Old 01-10-22, 03:58 AM
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Originally Posted by bark_eater View Post
Hopefully helpful, I have this list printed out in my shop:
https://www.vicsclassicbikes.com/wp-..._checklist.pdf
That is quite a complete list, you do that for every bike that comes into your shop?

I think that is beyond what the OP was asking, maybe I'm wrong but here was his original question was

My question here is this - what is the checklist that you go through when you are looking at a bike for a tune-up? Also, what are the key things that you look for to make sure that the bike is still safe to ride?
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Old 01-10-22, 05:53 AM
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Originally Posted by bark_eater View Post
Hopefully helpful, I have this list printed out in my shop:
https://www.vicsclassicbikes.com/wp-..._checklist.pdf
thanks. Now printed out in my garage.
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Old 01-10-22, 06:22 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeTBM View Post
That is quite a complete list, you do that for every bike that comes into your shop?

I think that is beyond what the OP was asking, maybe I'm wrong but here was his original question was
Well I'm not wrong... The OP is just starting out working on bikes, and it sounds like he's going to be self taught. I think its important to have an understanding of the right way of doing things, before starting to take short cuts or making triage judgements do to time and money constraints. As some one still low on the learning curve, I like that list because it makes note of stupid ****, like checking for a crank bolt washer. On my desk is a stripped crank arm as a "experiential totem". The OP also asked for the stripped down list of key things, which I concur that the minimum is safety.

In my opinion, Its more important that the bike stops, than if it go's, so if time and money are constraints I would focus on the front end of the bike, where a failure could get some one hurt or dead. As far as infrastructure, I would suggest getting under the non profits liability umbrella and consider a 20' shipping container the minimum size to run a one person Co-op out of.
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Old 01-10-22, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by bark_eater View Post
Well I'm not wrong... The OP is just starting out working on bikes, and it sounds like he's going to be self taught. I think its important to have an understanding of the right way of doing things, before starting to take short cuts or making triage judgements do to time and money constraints. As some one still low on the learning curve, I like that list because it makes note of stupid ****, like checking for a crank bolt washer. On my desk is a stripped crank arm as a "experiential totem". The OP also asked for the stripped down list of key things, which I concur that the minimum is safety.

In my opinion, Its more important that the bike stops, than if it go's, so if time and money are constraints I would focus on the front end of the bike, where a failure could get some one hurt or dead. As far as infrastructure, I would suggest getting under the non profits liability umbrella and consider a 20' shipping container the minimum size to run a one person Co-op out of.
Wooo partner, slow down, sounds like you are angry at someone and I never said you were wrong, I just asked if you you did that list for every bike that hits your work stand. And BTW I don't work out of a 20' shipping container, not sure what that's about.
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Old 01-10-22, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by JoeTBM View Post
Wooo partner, slow down, sounds like you are angry at someone and I never said you were wrong, I just asked if you you did that list for every bike that hits your work stand. And BTW I don't work out of a 20' shipping container, not sure what that's about.
Well maybe we're operating at a different level of reading and contextual interpretation. I can do sloooower and louder if it helps, kemosabe.

As to the direct question, irrelevant to the OP's request, I personally aspire to follow that check list with every full rebuild. I'm not making any money at it so my time is my time.

PS. I skimmed your web page. Nice Work!
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Old 01-10-22, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by bark_eater View Post
Well maybe we're operating at a different level of reading and contextual interpretation. I can do sloooower and louder if it helps, kemosabe.

As to the direct question, irrelevant to the OP's request, I personally aspire to follow that check list with every full rebuild. I'm not making any money at it so my time is my time.

PS. I skimmed your web page. Nice Work!
No need to shout or talk slower, I'm old but not that old I get everyone has a different way of doing things. There are many ways to skin a cat. I'm flexible in how each person approaches a problem

Thanks for the compliment on our work. We run the shop to meet the needs of the community we serve.

We turnout about 1700 recycled bikes a year and every one is fully functional and roadworthy. Safety is key.

All my volunteers have pride in their work and double check against each other. Test rides are performed by someone other then the mechanic who worked on the bike to insure safety.

No, we don't restore a bike to showroom condition but they are clean and ready to ride.
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Old 01-10-22, 01:49 PM
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-tires feel like they have reasonable pressure
-no rattles or clanks when the bike is moved or dropped
-chain is not rusty

... and awaaaaay I go!
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Old 01-11-22, 12:32 PM
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I made my own check-off list based on the excellent list from Aaron's Bike Repair at Rat City Bikes Repair Standards
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Old 01-14-22, 09:30 PM
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Funny how brakes seem to be the first thing to go.
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