One of my most vivid memories growing up is of my Grandfather. “Mr. Fix It” could fix anything. I mean anything. I didn’t seem to matter what was broken, grandpa showed up and fixed it. These were the days before everything was disposable.
The bicycle is one of the most elegantly simple machines ever devised. At least, in my mind, it should be. That shouldn’t absolve the end user from knowing his, or her way around it’s workings.
It has never been easier to find books, tutorials and how-to information. The internet is full of videos that will show you, step by step, how to fix most things on your bike. It’s going to require some task specific tools, probably a work stand and some patience.
There are a handful of things that I think everyone should know how to do.
Fix a flat tire. It’s super easy. Like anything else, the more you do it, the better you will get. Here’s an old video we shot at the store showing how it’s done.
Clean your bike. It’s going to make your drive train last longer. It’s going to make potential big problems easier to spot. It’s going to make your bike quieter. It’s going to make your mechanic (should you have need of one) happier. A word of warning-Do NOT use the turbo setting on your garden hose and give it a direct blast. Under no circumstances should you use a car wash. That water will push right past the seals in your bottom bracket, hub and head set leaving you with a bigger problem than a dirty bike. A bucket of water, a couple of brushes, and the shower setting on your hose works just fine. Just make sure to get some lube on all those places where there is metal to metal contact after drying.
Lube your chain. Wipe off the gunk with a rag. If it’s really dirty, some degreaser may be required. Find a place on the chain that you can find again, and put one drop of lube on every roller. Work your way around until you get to where you started. Too much lube is arguably worse than not enough. Too much lube will just attract dirt, and increase wear on your drive train. *** I don’t care what lube you use as long as it’s meant for a bicycle. That old can of WD-40 in the blue can is NOT a lube!***
Try wrapping your handlebar. Handlebar tape is an inexpensive way to make your bike look different/better/newer. It’s fun, and easy to do. Give it a try.
If you’re thinking, “I’m not into the idea of fixing my bike” I get it. Your LBS (local bike shop) is full of great mechanics-I’m proud to say that I’ve worked with some of the best. They’ll be happy to help you out. All that being said, knowing how your bike works will make explaining issues to your mechanic SO much easier.
While I don’t know that I totally agree with the sentiment that the bicycle will “save the world”, but I know it’s improved the quality of my life. Just understanding how the bike works deepened the connection between me and my machine. Hopefully the same will be true for you.
If you have any bicycle related questions, feel free to ask. I will do my best to answer them.