How To Tune Up A Mountain Bike

Once you have bought a mountain bike, it can be easy to think that the job is done. However, riding your mountain bike regularly will mean that you have a lot of wear and tear. Eventually you might run into a few problems. Understanding how to tune up a mountain bike can allow you to straighten out these problems before they become severe.

mtb tune up
Mountain Bike Components

Mountain bike tune ups can be expensive, but there are a few things that you can do at home. This will allow you to tune up your mountain bike in a cost-effective manner. In the following article, we will have a look at some of these methods to allow you to do these tune-ups at home and understand what they consist of.

Different Kind Of Tune-Ups To Consider

Not every tune-up is the same and there are different forms of tune-ups that you can consider. When you visit your local bike shop, you will notice that each tune-up will focus on a different element and these are often marketed as packages. Here are a few different kids of tune-ups for you to consider for your bike:

Safety Tune-Up

Bikes, especially the top mountain bikes will take a lot of punishment on your journeys. Since you will trek through tough terrains, you might notice that many of the components will get damaged. The safety tune-up will look at some of the safety features of the bike while scanning over all the nuts and bolts to make sure the bike is safe to ride.

bike tune up
Bike Wheels

These tune-ups can often be done at home, but you need a decent understanding of all the components. A safety tune-up will enable the bike to be competition and trail-ready. This is especially important when taking on some of the toughest trails in the US.

Service Tune-Up

One can easily think of the safety tune-up as the service tune-up. However, they are completely different and while one of them will ensure the bike remains safe, the other will look at things like the frame and some of the intricate components. The service tune-up can scan through the frame and the forks to look at cracks and other possible damages.

If you are a bike expert and you understand how to tune up a mountain bike, you can also perform this form of tune-up in the comfort of your own home. However, experts have more experience in finding minor issues that will affect performance. The drivetrain is one of the first elements to get damaged and they have tons of experience in finding these faults.

Overhaul Tune-Up

If you have a few funds to spare, you might consider the biggest package that many bike shops offer. The overhaul tune-up is one of the most complicated tune-ups you can find and it is also very expensive. The goal of this tune-up is to look at the components of the bike and find out if you can make it better in any way.

As an example, you might have mechanical disc brakes on your mountain bike, but when an expert looks at the bike, they may think that hydraulic disc brakes will serve you and your bike better than the mechanical alternatives. As mentioned, these tune-ups tend to be expensive, but they work wonders in the long-run.

7 Steps To Tune-Up Your Bike

Now that you have an idea of the different tune-ups that are available, we have decided to take a look at a basic mountain bike tune-up process. Once you understand how to tune up a mountain bike by looking for the right things, you will find it easier to do it in the comfort of your own home and ensure that you get the job done efficiently.

how to tune up a mountain bike
Bike Components Check

1.      Start With The Tires

One of the first areas that will indicate wear on a mountain bike is the tires. Once the bike has been cleaned, you can go through the tires and look at the tread of the tire. The wear on the tread will show you how much the bike has been ridden. You will slowly make your way through each tire and also check for thorns, which might cause potential punctures.

2.      Move To The Drivetrain

Next to the tires, you have the drivetrain, which is also one of the components that can often take a lot of damage. The drivetrain consists of the derailleurs and the cassettes, as well as the components that link them to the shifters. While the drivetrain might be fine, you will notice that the chain can often be rusted, which means it does not sit firmly on the cassette.

How to tune up a Mountain bike Adjusting rear derailleur

3.      Clean The Frame

Once you have moved through some of the minor components, you can look at the frame. However, the frame is often worn and damaged, which means that scratches can be interpreted as cracks. Using a simple degreaser and a cloth, you can comb over the frame until it is clean and remove some of the scratches as well.

4.      Check The Frame And Fork

Once these components are clean, it is much easier to check them for damage. You can check the frame and the fork to look for any scratches or severe damage. Additionally, you will need to ensure that something is a scratch before you fix it. As mentioned, it is very easy to see many scratches as a crack, which is why the experts are much better at doing it.

For the fork, you will look for the same cracks that can often be present. However, the forks are much cheaper and easier to replace. For carbon fiber bikes, you will have a lot of trouble fixing a frame and getting it in working condition. Steel and aircraft-grade aluminum frames are easier to fix when they have minor damages.

5.      Brakes

Once you have completed your check of the frame, you will move to the brakes. The brakes can be one of the most important elements when it comes to your mountain bike. If you have standard V-brakes, you might only need to look if the brake pads are worn. However, disc brakes have sophisticated discs that need to be looked at to ensure that they are still in working condition.

How to tune up a mountain bike brakes

6.      Minor Component Check

The final checks will be the minor components like the cables and the shifters. These components rarely have any damage if the user has not fallen with the bike. The shifters might need to be cleaned and you can check to see that the chain is still responsive if it is not worn. Once these have been checked, you can be sure that your bike is fine

7.      Reassemble The Bike And Clean It

Last but certainly not least, you will need to reassemble all of the components you have taken apart. The best trail bikes might be very complicated and you could spend a lot of time with intricate components. You also need to make sure that each component is clean and make sure that you check that the bike is completely reassembled. Make sure all the nuts and bolts have been fastened.

How Important Is A Tune-Up?

It is one of the most important aspects of having a mountain bike. Regardless of how often you ride the bike, it is recommended that you have at least one check-up a year. You might need to consider more if you ride tough trails. Since these tune-ups can be expensive, you might want to learn how to perform it yourself. It will be cheaper to do it in the comfort of your own home.


If you don’t know how to tune up a mountain bike, you might need some expert advice. You could visit your local bike shop. However, the tune-up is one of the most important parts of mountain bike maintenance. You will spot issues before they become severe. We recommend users have a tune-up at least once a year by a professional bike expert.

Below is a Pinterest friendly photo… so you can pin it to your Mountain Bike Board!