Get me on my bike
April 18, 2005 1:18 PM   Subscribe

The sun is out and I want to be riding my bike. Help me get it ready to roll.

I usually drop my mountain bike off at a local bike shop and have them clean it, oil the chain, check the breaks, etc. This year I was thinking maybe I could finally learn how to do this myself. Any suggestions of books to read, sites to visit to learn maintenance basics?
posted by papercake to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Bicycling Magazine's Complete Guide to Bicycle Maintenance and Repair. ISBN 1579548830.

But an annual bike tuneup is a good idea, even for do-it-yourself types. Some things, like derailleur maintenance and wheel truing, really do require an expert. However, every bicyclist should learn how to fix a flat, check brake pads for wear, lubricate a chain, and so on.
posted by profwhat at 1:24 PM on April 18, 2005

Teaching yourself to work on bikes requires quite a bit of patience and a few tools. Your best bet is to find a friendly shop that will allow you to throw your bike on one of their stands and do the maintenance yourself. If you live in a larger town, shop around for a co-op. Invest in a set of metric allen wrenches (you don't need expensive ones), a good lube, cable cutters and, perhaps, a fourth hand tool.

Great tool site ...
posted by rotifer at 1:36 PM on April 18, 2005

Brakes. The Park Tool site is good, and there is always theSheldon Brown/Harris Cyclery web site.
posted by fixedgear at 1:43 PM on April 18, 2005

The Bicycling Magazine book is good. I slightly prefer Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance. Barnett's Manual is the bible, but it costs a bit more. Another vote for Sheldon. Finally, is a great forum populated by many expert bicycle mechanics. It is great for a specific problem.
posted by caddis at 2:18 PM on April 18, 2005

I would disagree, rotifer. I think if you've any mechanical aptitude at all, working on a bike (wheel truing aside, at least for me) is very easy. Much easier than working on a car or motorcycle, for example. The mechanisms are - mostly- very simple to adjust or replace. Everything is right out in the open and easy to get get. Just get a good manual and and tools and don't try to do it the morning of the day you want to ride.
posted by mojohand at 2:48 PM on April 18, 2005

Bicycle maintenance ranges from simple to complex, depending upon the job. Annual maintenance should include adjusting brakes and deraileurs, replacing chains, truing wheels and greasing all major bearings. I like to replace the bearings as well as grease them as new bearings are pretty cheap. Each of these tasks can easily be performed by the rookie mechanic with one of the books cited above. I ordered them in what I consider increasing difficulty. Some people might find wheel truing the most difficult to perform well, but I seem to have the knack to get them straight in such a fashion that they stay straight. (Just make sure all of the spokes sing the same note or close to the same note by the time you are done and the wheel will stay true for a long time.) The more difficult tasks might not go smoothly the first time, but you can get them done even the first time without help, except from the books. Zinn and Bicycling Magazine both do a good job of walking you through the fine points. Some tasks like replacing headsets are probably best left to your local bike shop with the proper tools, but even these can be performed by the advanced amateur mechanic (at least this is what I am told; I would probably not try replacing a headset by myself).
posted by caddis at 3:45 PM on April 18, 2005

Second Zinn's book. I'm a mechanical good-fer-nothin' but the Zinn book has gotten me through lots of little repair and maintenance tasks. Avoiding a trip to the shop always feels great.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:37 PM on April 18, 2005

I think if you've any mechanical aptitude at all, working on a bike (wheel truing aside, at least for me) is very easy.

You are right - I wasn't trying to discourage anybody. Think back, though, to the first time you adjusted your brakes and derailleurs. I didn't say it was difficult, but patience will pay off. Tearing apart shocks and tweaking Campy 10? Not among my favorite pursuits. Then again, I just want to ride my bikes.
posted by rotifer at 6:52 PM on April 18, 2005

Ask about bike maintenance classes at your local bike shops. I've seen them offered for free at some shops.
posted by teg at 10:31 PM on April 18, 2005

Here is another web site.
posted by fixedgear at 2:43 AM on April 19, 2005

Thanks for all the help. I'm going to buy me a book, some tools, and maybe look for a class.
posted by papercake at 5:38 AM on April 19, 2005

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