Good service writing begins good service.

On the ground

  • Tires: write customer’s preferred pressure on service ticket; inflate
    to maximum rated pressure (carefully); check bead seat
  • Wheels centered: (not for horizontal dropouts, track ends, or through-axles)
    • Open rim brake
    • Open qr or loosen axle nuts
    • Center wheel by rocking left-right while pushing down on bike
    • Close qr or tighten axle nuts; set qr levers to correct tightness
      and position

      (Look for movement of the rear derailer and hanger.)

    • Close brake
  • Brakes: check for lock; look for caliper play; check lever distance
    from handlebar at pad touch (one inch minimum)
  • Coaster and drum brakes: test ride and make sure brake locks
  • Handlebar: check centering and rotation; check attachment to stem;
    check attachment of bar-ends, aero bars, and accessories
  • Levers: check position and attachment; look for gaps between brake
    levers and grip shifters; look for drop-bar levers knocked in by
  • Stem: check for play and attachment to steer tube
  • Headset: check for play by resting right fingers lightly on the back of
    the adjustable race, locking the front brake, and rocking the bike back and forth
  • Steering play:
    • Hold top tube firmly with left hand
    • Hold right end of handlebar firmly with right hand
    • Rotate handlebar to the right
    • Move hands in vertical opposition to check for play
    • Rotate handlebar to the left
    • Hold left end of handlebar firmly with right hand
    • Move hands in vertical opposition to check for play
  • Seat post: mark height with tape; check for play and rotation; position qr lever correctly; raise if needed for stand clamp
  • Suspension: write customer’s weight on service ticket; check for travel and compression; check mounts for play
  • Accessories: check attachment of bottle cages, racks, fenders, lock
    mount, pump, lights, reflectors, etc

In the stand

  • Frame and fork: lightly run fingers over all tubes to feel for damage,
    especially underside of top and down tubes just behind head tube, all tubes near the bottom bracket, particularly seat tube, seat stays at seat tube and near brake bridge, and the stays as they join the dropouts
  • Horizontal dropout or track end: center the rear wheel
  • Brakes:
    • Check pad alignment, centering, compression, and retraction
    • Rim: open brakes and check pads for wear and debris
    • Disc: inspect pad depth with a light
    • Check calipers and levers for fouling, play, and damage
    • Check cables, housing, and hoses
  • Wheels:
    • Tires: check tread, sidewall, and bead seat; use valve as marker for full rotation
    • Rims: check for damage and wear
    • Nipples: check for rounding, cracks, and corrosion
    • True: check gap from rim to one pushed in brake pad or to a smooth tipped tool stabilized against the fork or seat stay
    • Spokes: squeeze together same-side parallel spokes looking for broken, loose, or very tight
    • Hubs:
      • Knock: hold nipple or rim firmly, hold bike or fork firmly, push perpendicular to bike to check for knock
      • Bearings: start wheel rotating at moderate speed, rest fingers lightly against fork, handlebar, seat stay, and chain stay to feel for vibration suggesting damaged bearings or axle
      • Pendulum: start wheel rotating very slowly, look for the heaviest point to swing back and forth across the bottom of the arc; look for rear wheel to pendulum slightly against freehub / freewheel mechanism
  • Headset: hold fork (crown for suspension fork) firmly with right hand, hold down tube firmly with left hand, and move hands in opposition to check for knock
  • Fork: sight fork blades from side to check alignment
  • Drive-train:
    • Chain: shift the chain to the large chainring; pull the chain away
      from the front of the chainring to check for excessive play in the
      system; check the chain for wear with a chain checker; check the chain for stiff links, damage, and excessive rust
    • Rear derailer:
      • Hanger: check attachment and sight alignment
      • Pulleys: check for fouling, wear, and smooth spinning
      • Play: check A and B pivots, and knuckles for play
      • Limits: shift to slackest cable position (smallest or largest
        cog), turn cranks and move derailer by hand; immediately adjust limits to prevent any over-shift or spoke contact
      • Cage and parallelogram: inspect for damage and full range of motion
    • Cassette or cluster: inspect for damage and wear; use a new piece of chain to check wear
    • Front derailer: check alignment and for play; check range of motion and immediately adjust limit screws to prevent over-shifts
    • Shifting: check shifting function, especially check for
    • Shifters: free housing from cable stops or hold derailer at maximum position to check shifter function independently of cables and derailers (count the clicks)
    • Cables and housing: free housing from cable stops or hold derailer at maximum position to check cables for friction and corrosion
    • Pedals: check pedal attachment to crank and smooth rotation on
      spindle; check cage or cleat holding mechanism attachment
    • Cranks: check for damage especially at pedal spindle, spider arms,
      and back of drive crank
    • Chainrings:
      • Check tightness of chainrings bolts
      • Check shifting for chain suck
      • Drop chain off outside of biggest chainring (or rest on bottom bracket shell or spindle)
      • Inspect teeth for damage and wear
      • Sight from front derail cage to chainrings to check for bent
        chainrings, spider, or spindle
    • Bottom bracket:
      • Hold both crank arms at ends and move perpendicular to bike (at least at six positions) to check for knock
      • With the chain not touching the chainrings, start the crank
        spinning and lightly touch the seat tube and down tube to feel for bearing roughness, also look for free spinning
  • Tire pressure: is it still at maximum?

Wheels out

If you suspect a problem with the hubs, disc brakes, or the frame, take
the wheels out and check.

  • Axle:
    • Remove qr skewer or axle nuts
    • Sight both parallel and perpendicular to axle while turning to
      detect any deflection
  • Fork end and dropout: use Park Tool FFG-2 to check alignment
  • Frame: use Park Tool FAG-2 to check alignment
  • Disc brakes: block brake after removing wheel; do not compress lever
    with wheel removed; remove pads from caliper for inspection

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