Over time your bike is going to succumb to everyday wear and tear, especially if you favor rough terrain, and the cost of maintenance can quickly add up. You can save some cash by learning how to do a few basic repairs on your own. This’ll also help in an emergency and you find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere with nary a bike shop in sight.
Here are a few basic bike repairs every cyclist should know.
Out of all the various mechanics on a bicycle, the chain is the one that takes on the toughest load. It’s responsible for making sure things are working smoothly and is also one of the first parts to yield to excessive use. Having one of these babies break out in the wild or on a back road will leave you stuck on two feet if you don’t know how to repair it when it breaks.
Prevent a surprise breakdown by routinely checking the amount of teeth exposed under the chain ring. Have a chain breaker and/or multi-tool on hand in case you need to remove parts of the link. Each brand has its own idiosyncrasies when it comes to design and proper repair, so make sure to study your manual and have it down. Get a tool that works in every instance.
Comfort is an essential part of a good ride and nothing throws off your game like a horrible grip. Whether worn by rain, mud, sand or snow your handlebar tape can get nasty multiple times over the course of a few days, making them rough or slick and hard to hold onto. Removing and replacing the tape is easy and should definitely be in every biker and cyclist’s repertoire. A tape kit comes in handy and makes the process a lot easier. Some of them include scissors, which might be necessary depending on how sticky your last warp was.
Start underneath the handlebar and wrap in a clockwise direction toward the center of the bars where both sides meet. Make sure to overlap as you go to ensure that there are no gaps in your wrapping. Once you reach the end double up tie it off with some electrical tape if you want a little extra security.
Fixing a Flat
Nothing ends a ride faster than a flat tire. Changing the entire thing out on the trail is probably not an option, unless you fancy having a spare saddled to your back while you ride, but something as small as a puncture is an easy fix. You’ll need to brush up on your tire removal skills and keep a spare tube on hand, but it’s doable for any cyclist no matter your skill level.
There are plenty of tools that’ll help you take off the tire, but in most cases you can get the job done with a little ingenuity and elbow grease in an emergency. Always remember to let the remaining air out of the tire before you begin your repairs and, after removing the old tube and slipping in the new, make sure you shut the quick release valve.
Switching Brake Pads
Like cars, the brake pads on bikes don’t always have the longest shelf life. Luckily they’re so tiny there’s no reason to not have a couple of spares in your pocket when you’re out. Changing them is a simple process and you can generally get the jump done with nothing more than a simple flat-head screwdriver. Sometimes the process is easier if you remove the wheel, but a lot of riders find it works just fine with it still on. It’s your call.
Unscrew the brake pad from the shoe, remembering to pay attention to orientation, then slip in the new one. Use the old grub screw if it’s still in good condition. You’ll want to reduce the cable tension once the new pads are installed and give a quick once-over to the alignment before hitting the road again.
Not all brake pads work with different brands, so pay attention to the specifications when you’re making a purchase.