There are a few characteristics about your bike that can let you know very easily whether or not its time to get your bike tuned up.
It is getting more and more difficult to stop
If you find you are squeezing your brake levers until they just about touch your handlebars to come to a complete stop, this could be an indication that your brake pads are worn down and should be replaced ASAP. Not only can worn-out brake pads be extremely unsafe, they can also cause severe damage to your wheels. Over time, brake pads get all sorts of small pieces of metal and dirt stuck in them and can act like a piece of sandpaper against your rim wearing it thinner and thinner until the your wheel wears through and puts you in the market for a new one.
Not shifting properly
If you find your chain is skipping or your shifters simply aren't doing what you want them to do, this could be an indication that something has been knocked out of line, your cables could have loosened up(or rusted), or your chain is worn out. Neither of these is too costly to take care of and is routine in a tune-up for most bikes.
Getting more flats than usual
Tires are generally only good for about a year of heavy riding. Tires thin out and weaken with age and can handle only so much abuse before they stop fighting all of those little pieces of glass on the road. Riding on a worn out tire is a dangerous dance and can leave you stranded with a flat more often than not.
Bring your bike into our South Boston bike shop and we can walk you through our tune-up process.