What goes in to a bike service?

Today, I took my bike in to Lunar Cycles to discover what goes in to a bike service. Something that has always been a bit of a mystery to me. This is the service frequently used bikes should have at least once per year.

Lunar Cycles charge £65 for this service. Alternatively, for £80 they will also supply a new set of cables. Beyond this, I also needed new handlebar tape and I wanted to take out the bottom bracket to see if it solves some knocking sounds coming from the bike.

I need to stress here that a service from Lunar Cycles is very thorough, experiences may vary depending on where you take your bike. However, this should be a helpful guide.

Stripping components off the bike

The first stage to the bike service

The first stage is to remove the components off the bike.

bolts on chainring tightened

This is when we discovered some of the bolts on the front chainring were loose. This can sometimes be the source of creaks.

water in the bottom bracket

We also discovered some water in the frame once the bottom bracket was removed. This can cause problems. The water probably got in via the bottle cage bolts that were missing.

Cleaning the bike

cleaning the bicycle wheel

The wheels are then cleaned using Muc-Off.

cleaning the frame during a full bike service

Followed by the frame.

cleaning the components

Components such as the chainring are then thoroughly cleaned using degreaser.

Inspecting the bike frame

removing rust from a bike frame

Some rust was also discovered on the bike frame so that was promptly dealt with. Once the rust had been scraped away, a clear satin polyurethane was added on top to prevent more air getting to the rust.

polishing the bike frame

The frame is then polished using Miracle Shine. This is definitely not something most bike shops would do but it adds a great touch and protects the frame.

Refit components

bike frame and brake callipers

With the frame looking shiny, the components are refitted to the bike.

fitting the bottom bracket

Once it has been greased the bottom bracket is re-installed. This was an extra from the service I had requested.

Tightening cranks

The chainring (or chainrings depending on your bike) are then added and tightened. Along with the crank arms.

Pedals tightened

The pedals are then greased and firmly tightened in to position.

Plucking the bike wheel spokes

As part of the Lunar Cycle service, wheels are also trued and, this is really special, they are also plucked to check the tension is spot on.

Brakes toed in

With the brakes re-installed they are then toed in slightly by placing some sandpaper towards the back of the brake. This should keep them running silently.

chain lubricated

Finally, the chain is lubricated using Prolink and the seat post is greased.

Overall, I’ve been really happy with the very comprehensive service at Lunar Cycles. It was nice to be able to observe exactly the work being done so that you get an appreciation of quite what goes in to it. The end effect is that my bike rides better than it ever did!

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18 Responses to What goes in to a bike service?

  1. Chris 04/07/2012 at 5:32 pm #

    No torque wrench on reassembly ?

    • Andreas 04/07/2012 at 6:04 pm #

      You certainly can but it’s not a necessity.

    • Yoda 05/07/2012 at 8:41 pm #

      Torque wrench is always used at Lunar when required. With a “vintage” single speed build like the one depicted there are no specified torque settings. In cases like this, “experienced hands make bike work”.

    • Charles Eaton 07/07/2012 at 4:52 pm #

      Hi Andreas

      Does anyone ever look at the wheel axles (cones) these days’

      Would this be daoe in a service?



  2. Spanish Pirate 04/07/2012 at 5:33 pm #

    Are you meant to do the spokes with tyre and inner tube in place ? If there are any protruding bits of spoke could cause a puncture.

    • Andreas 04/07/2012 at 6:09 pm #

      All mechanics use different practises. While I was in there I was told some people debate whether a chain stretches (it definitely does) there’s often not a right or a wrong answer when it comes to bicycle maintenance (another classic example is people using WD-40 as a lubricant). In this case, if you want to be extra safe then removing the inner tube is a good call but it’s unlikely the spoke would go through the rim tape for the small adjustments that were needed.

      • Peter K 05/07/2012 at 7:39 am #

        although it’s commonly called stretch it’s the wear on the bits of the chain that causes it to become longer, rather than stretch of the actual metal.

    • Hanry 04/07/2012 at 6:52 pm #

      Just to clarify with regards to truing the wheel, the only time the tyre must be removed is if the wheel is ‘egged’ (not a technical term!). But otherwise lateral truing can be done with the tyre on.

      • Chris Havener 06/07/2012 at 8:31 am #

        What is the proper way to true a wheel, USA midwest

  3. Hanry 04/07/2012 at 6:41 pm #

    With regards to truing the wheel with the tyre and tube in place: This could only possibly cause a puncture if the wheel been trued had a single walled rim as opposed to a double walled rim which the wheel in the picture above has, The spoke and nipple sit in a recess in the rim and therefore nowhere near the tyre and tube. Also if the spokes are at a danger of puncturing the tube then they are probably too long in the first place as the spokes should not protrude from the end of the nipple.

    Ps Great write up Andreas.

  4. spanish pirate 04/07/2012 at 8:00 pm #

    Cheers Hanry, You learn something new everyday.

  5. Sarah 05/07/2012 at 1:15 pm #

    Thanks for this, my bike is due a service, I live locally and have been unimpressed with the service from the High Street shops. I have now booked in at Lunar Cycles.

    • Andreas 05/07/2012 at 4:51 pm #

      Sounds good Sarah – got a feeling you’ll be impressed by the service!

  6. goonz 06/07/2012 at 1:16 pm #

    Nice article, and will definitely be hitting up Lunar for my annual bike service. Very reasonable price considering some other high street stores charge nearly double that!

    Ah the dreaded wheel truing. I even bought a truing tool but have not yet attempted it on my bikes. I tried fixing the front hub without the proper spanners and botched it right up!

    Since then I have just stuck to cleaning my bike! I am slowly working my confidence back up to starting my own maintenance so these articles are a great help.

  7. Henk 07/07/2012 at 12:57 pm #

    I took out a three year maintenance contract with Halfords down the road. You are right: different mechanics have different practices. Breaking the rear axle and not properly tightening the replacement appeared to be Halfords’ practice.

  8. Jeremy Parker 07/07/2012 at 1:40 pm #

    why stop brakes from squeaking – it’s the only noise to which a pedestrian acts appropriately, and doesn’t get annoyed. Bells are too quiet against traffic, and young pedestrians don’t know what they mean, while old pedestrians have too much high frequency hearing loss to notice them. Air Zounds work – boy, do they work – but are unsporting

    when trueing a wheel it’s good to “de stress” the spokes. If you wind a spoke up, by adjusting it, that is like winding up a spring, and the result is that the spoke likes to unwind itself and undo all your good work. You destress a wheel by leaning it against the bottom of a wall, at 45 degrees to wall and floor. Then put one hand on each midair bit of the wheel. and lean your weight on the wheel. That will take the stress off some of the spokes, allowing them to spontaneously unwind themselves without losing their new adjustment. They will make alarming creaking noises while doing this. Turn the wheel a bit, and repeat, to destress a few more spokes, and carry on untill there is no more creaking

  9. Jon Fray 25/07/2012 at 1:10 pm #

    SANDpaper??!! What’s going on there? (Nb in woodwork it’s usually actually glass paper, in a metal workshop you’ll find emery cloth or ‘wet and dry’). Maybe I’m being picky but I wouldn’t especially want an abrasive material wedged between the brake pads and rim – even for setting-up. A bit of card from the packaging the blocks came from was ‘standard’ I thought – or else card from a healthy cereal box

    Nb ‘scraped’ not ‘scrapped’.

    • Andreas 26/07/2012 at 1:44 pm #

      Oops! Thanks Jon – corrected.

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