Easy Checklist for Maintaining Your Vintage Bicycle

This is a checklist for a basic maintenance service for your (vintage) bike. If the bike is fine but it has been a while since it was last serviced, these are the steps I recommend.

  1. Start by wiping over the frame and components. This will help you see if anything is wrong. It also makes your bike look like new and shiny again.
  2. Oil the cables. Unhook the brake cables from the levers, cable stops or calliper to get more slack. Drip some oil on the cable and into the cable housing and floss the cable through the housing to spread out the oil
  3. Check that your cranks and pedals are tight
  4. Check that the wheels run true. If you have disc brakes, check they are true.
  5. Check brake pads for wear and metal pieces and replace if necessary. If they still have a lot of life on them but they don’t brake well enough, you might gain some braking by sanding them back a little bit. If they are old and dried out (rim brakes), it’s better to just replace them with fresh ones. 
  6. Before adjusting the brakes, make sure the wheels are in the frame straight
  7. If using disc brakes: clean them with disc brake cleaner or iso.
  8. Take the wheel off and check if the cassette is on tightly.
  9. Make sure the levers and bars are level and straight.
  10. If you have a chain checker, check the chain for wear.
  11. Clean and lube the chain.
  12. Run through the gears and tune if necessary.
  13. Overall nut and bolt check – make sure everything is tight enough and no loose bolts. Even the bottle cage bolt. They are pretty harmless but can cause ticking sounds if loose.