Basic Bike Repairs Every Rider Should Know

bike repairOver 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.

Chain Repair
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.