Your bike needs a tune-up at least once every season — twice if you ride regularly — yet too many of us put it off because of the cost and time it takes for a bike shop to get your ride feeling like new. But there's no reason to suffer through missed shifts, sloppy brakes, and wobbling wheels. Anyone can tune their bike at home.
The key to a successful tune-up is having the right mindset. "A bicycle is a fundamentally simple machine, and anybody can learn to maintain it," says Lennard Zinn, author of Zinn & Art of Road Bike Maintenance. "That said, it requires the correct frame of mind. A person who thinks 'I can't do this,' or 'I don't have time for this,' won't do a good job."
A bike tune-up is best performed on a bike repair stand, but if you don't have one, you can hang a rope over a garage or basement rafter and loop it under the nose of your saddle to suspend the bike off your floor. It's less stable than a repair stand, but better than leaning against a wall or turning the bike upside down.
Now grab a set of metric Allen wrenches, screwdrivers (Phillips and slotted), a needle-nose plier, chain lube, and a rag. You're going to give your bike a tune-up. If you're new to bike maintenance, give yourself at least an hour. If your bike needs minimal care and you've wrenched on a bike before, it can take less than 30 minutes.