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124 Playing Bike Mechanic 2009-09-14

bike on stand in the garage

Bicycles are amazing machines. Simple enough to understand most of the workings with only a glance, they are efficient enough to transport us with a surprising ease of effort. When my machine stops behaving properly I like to play bike mechanic.

A few years back my wife got me a nice Park Tools stand and a great little tool box. Supplemented with my existing tools I have enough what-you-may-call-its to adjust about any thing-a-ma-jigs. So some advice...

Don’t be afraid to try. Almost all repairs are simple and logical. Watch how the piece works. What is it doing wrong? What is available to adjust (limit screws, cable, etc.)? Be patient.

Don’t be afraid to get dirty. Bikes are machines, they require oil and grease and will get you dirty.

Some of the seemingly harder repairs are some of the easiest - for example: repacking the headset or hubs.

The adjustments after everything has been rebuilt are the most time consuming tasks. Be patient and get it right.

Buy a book. Look for a well reviewed book for the type of bike you are repairing. It will speed you along on most repairs and adjustments.

Buy some tools. Some repairs are helped by specialty tools and other repairs actually require special tools. Kits are cheaper, but you might get tools you just don’t need.

Get a stand. A devoted bike stand is very nice, but you can also adapt a trunk bike carrier to work as a stand.

Buy an apron. It just makes you feel like a mechanic!

Develop a disassembly method. When you start taking something apart layout the parts in the order that you took them off the bike. Don’t forget to make notes. If you are delayed a couple of days with the repair, you might forget where a piece goes. Not that that has ever happened to me!

Some bike stores offer classes on repairing and adjusting bikes. Some classes are free.

Don’t get mad. The bike just doesn’t care.

It’s okay to have pieces left over, you need to start a parts bin anyway.

So don’t put up with that clanky derailleur, buy a few tools and invest a few hours to learn to fix it. You can do it, baby!

Happy Gears!



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