I receive a surprising number of emails from people who are having technical difficulties with their new bikes. Among others, the issues include squealing brakes, mis-shifting drivetrains, wobbly wheels, loose bearings, and even parts that simply fall off of their bikes. Often, these bikes are less than 6 months old and the owners are perplexed and frustrated, questioning their purchase and blaming the designers/manufacturers for their woes.
Every new bike I’ve purchased has had issues within the first couple of months of use. And in almost every case, the problems were a result of new parts settling in and causing things to go out of adjustment. Regardless of whether we’re talking about a $100 bike from Wal-Mart or a $10,000 Trek Madone, nuts, bolts, bearings, and cables will settle-in within the first few months causing parts to come loose and shifters and brakes to go out of adjustment. This is all a normal part of the break-in process.
Most reputable dealers offer a one-time free tune-up to customers who purchase bikes at their shops. They’re typically offered within the first three months of purchase, with some shops even offering multiple free tune-ups spread over the entire first year. When shopping for a new bike, be sure to ask about your shop’s free tune-up policy, and after making your purchase, take full advantage. It’s good business on their part, and it can be a real benefit to you. By keeping everything tight and properly adjusted, your bike will ride more smoothly and safely, and you’ll avoid any potentially more serious (and expensive) issues in the future.