Bicycle Service Maintenance Guide

Regular maintenance and periodical checks will keep your bicycle working better, last longer and increase the pleasure of your cycling


Bicycle Service Maintenance Schedule 


Here at Cycle Tech UK, we want you to enjoy riding your bike as much as we do and for you to know when to service and maintain it for longer life.

Bikes where once more durable and looking after meant having a few tools, including a grease gun and a can of oil. 
Bikes have changed a lot and you will need to take care of your bicycle before it lets you down or becomes an expensive repair. Maintenance check will take time to learn, like anything in life, especially if you are new to cycling. See Home Mechanics School
So I have made a service checklist and maintenance schedule with links to more at the bottom of this post.........
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Bicycles are used for fun, sport, and transport with many types and models. And can be bought from a few hundred quid to over £10,0000. The most durable bike is the custom bike build with the best frame and components (from specialist shops and bike builder's) and not the one off the shelf. The bike sold ready to go will be cheaper to buy, but will have some cheap components that soon need replacing. Bikes brought online are not fully assembled or checked, this can also mean you are riding a bike that will potentially let you down and then have to contact the online shop to return.


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Every bike needs a mechanic
Maintenance intervals are strictly approximate, schedule the appropriate service maintenance with your Cycle Technician.

Cyclists quit often ask;

"When should I have my bike serviced?"
"What's included in a service?"
"My bicycle could probably do with a service as I've had it a few years now"

When a bike is sold, the buyer isn't told what needs to be done to help keep the bike in good condition. In fact, many bikes brought online have never been set up properly or even the wrong size bike!
Often we see bikes after a month or so from the date of purchase and problems already appear. Whilst every bike and rider we see is unique, we know for sure bicycles are not maintenance free. In fact, every bike needs a mechanic at some point.
Many cyclists just ride their bikes without paying attention to the running of their bicycle.
This is mainly due to 4 things:
  1. Not having any mechanical experience or new to cycling
  2. The bicycle was never set up correctly in the first place or even riding the wrong size bike.
  3. Many problems go unnoticed as parts wear slowly or brakes/gears go out of adjustment slowly and the rider is unaware. 
  4. The bicycle has never been serviced
  5. People are quick to spend money on shiny new wheels but not on having their bike maintained 
Cyclists will often only bring their bicycle into the workshop for a service when there is a problem like a wheel stops turning or there is a noise coming from the crank. I totally understand, if the bike can be ridden why go to the mechanic "I could be spending my time cycling"
In the bike trade, we call this prevented maintenance. No maintenance means expensive repairs or you may have a failure while out riding and can cause safety issues to the rider.

After a service has been performed and properly set up to the rider, customers can then feel the difference of their bicycle. Also, the mechanic can give the rider some advice for what to do between servicing. In time the rider will gain knowledge, get into a routine of pre-ride checks and regularly clean and lubricating.


You can spread the costs of maintenance and this would also make the cost of a repair less if you have your bike serviced regularly, daily pre-ride checks, clean and change your chain before it wears out more components or before it breaks.


Coming from a mechanical background - I have worked 20 years in the motor trade, for a dealership adhering to British Standards and regularly scrutinized checks from the AA & RAC. With over 12 years in the bike trade, I have come accustomed to working to a procedure and working from checklists that have helped me to learn more as well as doing the best job I can.

I like to share with you a guide to help you take better care of your bicycle for years to come.


After Care Service

Free Service Book - Keep a useful record of your service history. Download our PDF for you to print. Great for warranty evidence and for when its time to sell or trade in!

The service type can be determined by

  • The use - mileage
  • Normal or Severe riding conditions 
  • By the operating environment (e.g. the effect of temperature, corrosion, weathering, jet washing) 
  • When last serviced
"If you have fallen off your bike or been involved in an accident then your bike will need inspecting by a trained bicycle mechanic before you ride it again"

*Between servicing “Rider Checks” 
You will need some basic tools, (hex-keys) pump with gauge, cleaning brushes/sprays and bike specific lubricants*. Ideally, you will have an area to wash your bike and to carry out maintenance. Over time you will build knowledge, toolkit and a workshop.
Regular inspections of the following:

Daily or before each ride: 

  1. Check that quick-release lever or wheel nuts are properly adjusted and tightened
  2. Tyre pressures. check tyres for irregular wear, any cuts in the tyre tread, and sidewalls. 
  3. Check your headset adjustment. If loose, adjust it accordingly to your bicycle manufacturer's recommendations 
  4. Check handlebars and stem are tight
  5. Inspect brake pads/blocks for wear and alignment & brake operation. 
  6. Check quick release on both wheels are closed correctly.
  7. Check wheels spin freely. 
Riding with underinflated tyres means less steering control and more punctures.

Monthly:  
  1. Bike clean - Wipe frame down and wipe chain clean with a little de-greaser, whip off, let dry & re-lubricate
  2. Pump tyres up every month regardless. (If the brake lever pulls against the handlebar grip, the brake cable needs adjusting)
  3. Check that your front wheel and stem do not move independently and that your handlebar and clamp are tight
  4. Pedals spin freely and quietly
  5. Check mudguard and rack bolts
Before a cycling event or a big ride/tour:
Offering mechanical support at cycle events, for over 10 years, I always see riders who have not even pumped up their tyres before doing a 100-mile ride.

  • Have your bicycle serviced by a competent mechanic 2 weeks before and a follow up to make final adjustments and fit new tyres if required. 
Pre-checks before the ride. Not on the day:
  • Tyre Pressures 
  • Tyre condition
  • Di2 battery fully charged
  • Check that quick-release lever or wheel nuts are properly adjusted and tightened
  • Wheels spin freely
  • Brakes operate correctly
  • Gears operate correctly 
  • Correct Setup/bike fit - it's a long ride!
  • Remember your pedals, helmet, spare tubes and tools 

Stop riding your bike and do book your bike in for inspection, if the following occurs:
  • Brakes are not working 100%
  • Leaking brake fluid
  • Headset (Steering becomes loose) as this could cause irreversible damage to the frame head tube. 
  • Bottom bracket (Pedal arms) become wobbly as the chain could become jammed and cause an expensive repair. 
  • Broken spoke causing the wheel to rub on brakes
  • Leaking suspension will wear the parts out inside the shock, give poor performance and poor unsafe handling. Oil from the shock can leak on to the front brake disc!
 Warning: When lubricating your bikes chain and other components DO NOT get oil on the braking surface of the wheel rim (rim brakes) or brake disc (rotor). 

Off road use or bike that has been submerged in mud or water - After a ride, a full bike clean is required. A strip down of the bottom bracket, headset to clean and lightly regrease. Clean drive chain and re-lubricate. Remove seat post wipe post and inside the seat tube. Brake disc pads inspection for wear

 If unsure ask your cycle technician, who will be happy to help. 



 Disclaimer - Our mechanics are skilled at their job, you should learn the craft before working on your own bike. As bicycles are evolving all the time, you should use this as a guide only. Please check with manufacturers recommendations before working on your bicycle.




Type of Service
Recommended intervals
We presume the bike was correctly built and set up "PDI" Pre Delivery Inspection to British Standard's when perched.
1st service:
Carried out between 4 – 6 weeks after the date of purchase
Basic or Intermediate Service:
At 6 months or 1,000 miles whichever comes first. And then carried out In-between Main service/Overhaul service
Main Service:
Every 12 months or 2000 miles (Whichever is sooner) *When Normal riding conditions apply (or see Overhaul Service) - Bikes used in dry conditions, light use and family type bikes, and kept serviced regularly.
Overhaul Service:
Every 24 months or 4000 miles (Whichever is sooner) **or Every 12 months or 2000 miles when Severe Riding Conditions apply - Bikes that are used in all weather conditions, used for daily commutes, mountain bikes, cyclocross, Tri bikes, used for training and competition. Including not been serviced regularly or it’s been a long time since the last service.
The Full Strip Down & Rebuild:
For the keen cyclist, off-roaders and for the restoration of classic bikes. 
Suspension Service:
Lower leg service, Damper & Spring service, Air Can service
Recommend:
Lower leg service: every 6 months - winter/summer oil
Overhaul service: Every 125 Hours / Yearly, or whichever comes first
Check sag and damper settings. Inspect your product for visual damage and function of all controls.
(See manufacturer's recommended service intervals and oil types)
Changing oil regularly will stop the internal parts wearing out.
Brake bleed service:
D.O.T Fluid - Once a year or as needed
Mineral oil - Every two years or as needed
Chain only Replacement
Chain wear indicator tool reading:
 0    0.2    0.4    0.5    0.75    1.0    1.0 +   ☹

Single speed chains replace at 1.0,
7 speed to 10-speed chains replace at 0.75,
11 0r 12-speed chains & e-bikes replace at 0.5
Note: If worn past this mark, then chain and cassette will need replacing.
Campagnolo chains last between 2,000 - 5,000 Miles
As to Campagnolo wear check - Campagnolo recommends a chain longer than 132.60 mm (6 outer links) the chain must immediately be replaced.

Replace the chain before it wears out the sprockets and chainrings or before it brakes
Side note: British weather and riding in bike parks where there is sand plays havoc to your bicycles drive chain. Many MTB's especially ebikes we see, chains wear out before 500 miles. and road bikes less than 1,800 miles Replace the chain before it wears out the sprockets and chainrings or before it breaks.
Note: If you grind the gears by shifting under big load or changing more than one gear at a time components are simply not going to last as long.
Warning: When lubricating a chain, use chain specific oil from a bottle and drip a little on the chain. Do not use a spray, as this type of oil will not last long and tends to apply too much and can get on to brake disc rotor or rim braking surface.
Chain & Sprockets

Chainrings
When replacing a chain that is worn more than above. Both sprockets and chain should be replaced in this case.
Normally every 3rd time the chain is replaced - This will be determined by running a double or a triple and that the chain is replaced before it wears out the chainring. Single chainring with rear derailleur of 10 x 1 to 12 x 1 will wear out much quicker and is quite common to replace the chainring when replacing chain & sprockets.
Gear Cables complete
Replace once a year when service carried out
Bearing Wear Inspection:

Headset & BB Bearings


Wheel hub bearings


Freehubs


Frame bearings



Tubeless




Tyres & Tubes
  • Inspected at least once a year or at every 2,000 miles or after being submerged in mud or water.
  • “Good practice” after replacing headset bearings - bikes with disc brakes require a follow up to be re-preloaded between 4 - 6 weeks)
  • Replace cartridge wheel bearings every 6000 miles or if there is a rough feeling or noise when you spin the wheels or any side to side play. 
  • Pawls & spring have to be replaced in hub annual service. Inspect bearings. 
  • Inspection Frame bearings, bushes & Pivot bolts. Replace every 2 years
  • Replace fluid every 6 months. Remove tyres, inspect for wear, damage, any thorns and carefully remove. Clean off the old fluid from the inside of the tyre and rim. Add the correct amount of fluid
  • After removing a wheel to fit a tyre or tube: A check & Adjust of the wheel alignment (fitting) That the wheel runs true between brake blocks or between rotor. That gears are correct. If replacing a tube: Tyre & rim tape will need to be inspected.

Brake Disc Pads






Rotors
Replace at 0.5 mm of pad braking surface at the minimum point if contaminated, squealing or not gripping 100%
Note: Clean piston seals and rotor plus inspect rotor for damage. Align pads and test.
Warning: Replace brake pads if contaminated from chain oil or from leaking suspension or from leaking brake caliper. (Repair the leak first)

Clean, check for thickness, any damage, for secure fitment and inspect rotors alignment. Test brakes: They have 100 % stopping efficiency, without squealing or any rubbing.

Up-grading. Buying Tips: 
Before upgrading parts on your bike first make sure your bike is the correct size for you, factor in if other components are worn out and are compatible.
  • When buying new wheels spend 30% of the value of the bike. 
  • (Bikes with rim brakes; replace brake blocks when fitting new wheels) 
  • Buy good quality brake pads or blocks
  • Use the correct size and good quality rim tape 
  • When parts wear out, replace by upgrading to a longer lasting product 
  • Bulk buy on brake pads and chains 



Video - day in the life of a mobile mechanic 
"Bicycles that are ridden in the rain and/or off-road typically require more frequent and an extensive servicing. If you are a frequent commuter or distance rider, you will find that your bike needs servicing more often" 


What’s included in each service 


Note: Service recommended by time or miles - whichever is sooner.


Jersey grey.svg 1st Service
 Carried out between 4 – 6 weeks after the date
of purchase
Put the bike in work stand
Check crank bolts, steering bolts, seat post clamp and re-tighten
Check wheels are secure
Gear cable adjustments and indexed
Minor Wheel Truing (On Bike)
Check brake operation, check for leaks, calipers, and levers for security
Check visual alignment of gear hanger
Pump tyres to correct pressure
Wipe chain clean with degreaser and re-oil
Adjust headset play/pre-load
Make any minor adjustments needed to your seating or riding position
Road test


Jersey rosa.svg2. Basic or Intermediate Service
At first 6 months
or at 1000 miles whichever comes first.
and then
carried out In-between Annual service
M- check (Pre-inspection) For more detail see the bottom of page
Put the bike in the work stand
Frame Wipe Down
Frame & Fork Safety Inspection
Remove wheels and feel for bearing wear
Remove quick release skewers clean and lightly lubricate
Check the fitting of mudguards, racks and bottle cages for security
Drivetrain Component wear inspection including:
Chain wear measurement and associated components
Check cassette for secure fitment and freehub body loose or noisy
Correct chain or chainring(s) for drivetrain?
Check cogs to be compatible with derailleur and shifter
Hollowtech ll locking plate is installed
Brake/gear levers mounted correctly on the handlebar
STI levers stiff or loose
Brake & Gear housing inspection - correct casing used, cut to correct length, ends corroded or split.
Brake operation - signs of uneven braking & stiff function
Inspect rim brake blocks & disc pads for wear and alignment
Inspect brake rotors meet minimum thickness.
Min. THF = 1.5 mm, signs of overheating, check for warped rotors.
Anti loose safety caps or wires used on disc brake calipers mounting bolts.
Hydraulic braking - Inspect system for leaks (and as brake check/operation)
Gear operation smoothly or stiff function or slow to react.
Brake & Gear wire inspection - frayed or corroded, end caps fitted
Slip or pass a gear and indicate the correct gear when shifting (where applicable)
Bottom bracket for play/wear
Lube - down tube gear cable adjusters and check they turn (Road Bike)
Bike Torque - Checks include crank arms, pedals, and steering
Drivetrain Clean (On Bike) and Lubrication
Wheel Truing (On Bike)
Check headset for any free moment and wear, adjust as required
Inspect rim brake blocks for wear and alignment, visual check of brake pads and discs
Lubrication points - rim brake calipers,  derailleurs, brake leaves
and seat-post quick release
Brake & gear adjustments
Inspect valve for correct alignment, valve core for damage and correct length
Inspect tyres, valve alignment and inflate to correct pressures. 
(check tyres for irregular wear, any cuts in tyre tread and sidewalls)
Road test
Seat post and quill stem not past maximum height
Check saddle, bars and levers position to the rider
Make a final report and any recommendations

Bicycle Service Maintenance


Jersey green.svg3. The Main Service See Category A bikes*
Recommended at first 2000 miles or at 12, 36, 60 months(Whichever is sooner)
*Cat A bikes: For Normal riding conditions:
Bikes used in dry conditions, light use and family type bikes, and kept serviced regularly.
For Severe Riding Conditions, an Overhaul service is required. see below.
What's included in the main service:
As Indeterminate Service plus:
Put the bike in the work stand and remove wheels
Frame Wipe Down
Remove wheels - Check wheels & hubs. Inspect wheel rims for wear (Rim brakes)
Clean quick release skewer clean and lightly lube
Check and adjust brakes (Remove pads with disc brakes and inspect)
Clean brake calipers and inspect brake blocks. Lubricant calipers moving points and spring
True wheels on the bike
Inspect headset bearings - clean and re-lubricated
Check drivetrain wear (Chain, gears and associated components)
Clean & lubrication of drive chain on the bike
Clean & lubrication of brake & gear cables (where possible)
Check and adjust gears
Check suspension (Forks, rear shock, frame bearings & Bushes)
Check torque of bike components (Including Crank bolts, wheel nuts/Quick release,
steering)
Check pedal bearings
Remove seat post clean and use the recommended lubricant
Inspect saddle rail and bolts are secure (And position)
Road Test
Diagnostics check and advice on any further work required  
Bike set-up to fit rider   
Extras:
Clean suspension
Tape bars
Bike Valet - To thoroughly clean and degrease your bike and re-lubricate components
Pawls & spring to be replaced in freehub annual service plus inspect bearings.
Replace gear cables
Replace tubeless sealant
Gear hanger alignment


Jersey blue.svg4 Overhaul Service for Cat B bikes  See Category B bikes**
Recommended at first 4000 miles or at 24, 48, 72 months (Whichever is sooner)
**Cat B bikes: Severe Riding Conditions:
Bikes that are used in all weather conditions, used for daily commutes,
mountain bikes, cyclocross, Tri bikes, used for training and sport.
Including not been serviced regularly or it’s been a long time
since the last service. Then an overhaul service every 12 months carried out.
This service should be determined by the operating environment (
e.g. the effect of temperature, corrosion, weathering, jet washing and when last
serviced/mileage)
As Main Service above plus the following:
Remove headset bearings & bottom bracket bearings clean, inspect and
grease as required
Wheels “as above” plus inspect hub bearings, freehub, clean & grease as required.
Visual inspection of carbon fork steerer
Wheels tensioned and trued (off the bike)
Check spoke tension to manufacturer's specification (Mid to high-end wheels)
Clean chain and cassette off the bike. Soak and Scrub
Clean derailleurs
Clean brake discs or brake calipers and lub
Clean suspension stanchions
Replace gear cables (Extra charge for gear cables that fit in bars, stem, frame and
re-tape bars)
A diagnostic report, check & advise on any further
work necessary


Bicycle Service Maintenance Guide
Corroded headset bearing and damaged top cap hex bolt
Extras:
Pawls & spring to be replaced in freehub annual service plus inspect bearings.
Pedal service (or replacement) replace bearings and grease, clean threads and refit.
Stem & handlebar clamp bolts - check for corrosion, hex head for damage and
replace if necessary.
Extras MTB:
Suspension service
Frame bearing, mountings and bushing replacement
Setup suspension
Replace chain (And cassette)
Replace tubeless sealant
Extras Road/Commuter/Tri/Cyclocross
Tape bars
Replace Chain (And cassette)
Replace brake cables
MaillotReinoUnido.PNG 5. Full Strip Down & Rebuild:
Recommended for the keen cyclist, off-roaders,  for the restoration of
classic bikes and for winter storage. 
What’s included in a full strip down and rebuild: 
An Overhaul service plus:
Complete strip down, clean and re-greasing of components "where applicable"
frame & forks inspection
Complete check on all components - replace bearings wear necessary
Frame bearings, bushes replacement & pivot bolts
Brake service, including inner and outer casing change
Disc brake clean and adjust and bleed the system
Gear cable change and re-tune
Re-tape bars (Drop handlebars) or fit new grips
Extras:
Suspension service & setup to the rider
Thread Cleaning:
Re-tap & face bottom Bracket
Reamer seat tube
Re-tap pedal threads
Re-tap frame bosses and gear hanger mount
Prepare and spray the frame with logos


 Good practice 4 - 6 weeks after an Overhaul Service or a full rebuild, a follow up with a 1st service to check headset preload, gear and brake cable adjustments and everything is running smooth.
  • Price Menu (Full menu of services, eBike service, and stand-alone repairs covered in more detail)
More Related Reading:

M - Check Before every service* 


This is a 34 point visual check performed by a competent bicycle mechanic, complete with a report of all the wear and tear items *Except on a 1st service.
An M-Check may be required to be carried out when dealing with gear & brake issues, to have a better understanding of what's involved and cost. Further investigation may be required.
The check is designed to provide the customer with complete peace of mind and allows us to highlight potential wear and tear issues with the bicycle that need to be addressed immediately or in the future.

The 34 point M-Check plus:
  1. Note any crash damage, scratches or dents to frame, brake and gear components (Bent levers, derailleurs, gear hanger) 
  2. Ask the customer what performance issues they may be having with brakes and gears? Any unusual noises coming from the bike when pedaling or freewheeling or braking or changing gear? When the bicycle was last serviced and type of riding? 
  3. Once checks are completed: discuss with the customer by going over the results and determine the service type to be performed.

A detailed report on the customer bicycle will be completed by a Cycle Technician using a checklist. Any items identified will be clearly explained to the customer and they may be sent a video or photo to support the report. We will advise whether work is urgent and gain approval for any work to be carried out on the day. Alternatively, we will advise of any items to keep an eye for the future or requires replacing at a certain time or mileage.

If difficult diagnostics are needed: A second diagnosis of a more thorough inspection will be carried out as soon as possible, to identify service procedure, tools and parts. The goal is to identify the fault, prepare an estimate for the customer of the additional work and any parts and ask for approval. Order parts if not in stock or any special order items as soon as possible and schedule in the additional work and keeping the customer updated with a completion date.

Transporting your bicycle - Loading your bicycle in & out of the back of a car, removing front wheel:

Before removing front wheel with cable rim brakes, release front brake After removing front wheel with hydraulic disc brakes use a spacer between pads to stop the pistons pushing the pads out if the leaver is accidentally pulled.
After Checks before you ride:
Refit front wheel and check is centered in the forks
Check that quick-release lever or wheel nuts are properly adjusted and tightened
Check brake caliper is centered to wheel and pads are aligned to rim or rotor
Check that all brake cables or hoses are properly aligned
Test the proper operation of your front and rear brakes on level ground

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