Whether you’re training for a century ride or just out to enjoy the occasional beer garden trail, bicycle mishaps are common. Basic bike repair skills are essential for all riders, and most of them are simple to fix without having to call for a ride home.
You can learn most of these simple repairs on your own or by visiting your local bicycle repair shop for a simple course on bike repair tips. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common repair skills you’ll need to get by this season.
1. Adding Air to a Flat
Even if you’ve checked your air pre-departure, it’s common for tires to wear out or lose air for a variety of reasons. If your bike was sitting for a few months during the winter season or your tire is worn, you may find yourself stranded with a flat tire. Buy a small portable air pump and carry it with you at all times so you don’t end up stuck mid-ride.
2. Replacing Tubes
Speaking of tires, replacing the inner tube is another common bike repair you can do on your own. If your tire is flat due to a punctured tube, you can pack an extra tube and a small patch so that your ride isn’t canceled for the day. There are several repair kits that include these items, and they can be stored on your bike or in a backpack to save you from a roadside disaster.
3. Maintaining the Moving Parts
If you notice it’s getting harder and harder to push, it’s time to inspect all the moving parts on your bike. Beyond the pedals, make sure you regularly check the derailleurs, cranks, and chains. If they haven’t been lubricated recently, it’s going to be double the work to get anywhere fast. Keep a small bottle of lubricant in your kit, and make sure you apply as needed to keep those moving parts running as smoothly as possible for every ride.
4. Brake Tune-Ups
Knowing how to check your brakes is a good idea. Brake problems can cause serious accidents and sometimes cables and connections get jostled if you’ve transported your bike on a rack or simply had it in storage for a while. Get familiar with adjusting the brake pads, checking the cable tension and making sure your ride is safe and secure. Become familiar with the signs of a worn brake pad to avoid mishaps.
5. Repairing a Broken Chain
Be forewarned — repairing a broken chain isn’t too hard but prepare to get dirty. Chain problems happen quite frequently and unexpectedly. Sometimes you can pop a chain back into place, but some broken chains will require a full repair. You can repair a break by using a quick link or easy-to-carry chain tool so that you can make it home safely.
6. Checking the Gears
Learn how to identify your front and back derailleurs and check them for wear and tear. You’ll want to practice finding the cable adjusters as well so that you can tighten any gears on your own. Make small adjustments until you feel your bike shifting more seamlessly.
7. Adjusting Bike Parts
If you hit a bump, take a spill, or pop something out of place in transit, it’s a good idea to become familiar with how to adjust your bike parts. We’re talking seats, handlebars, and headsets. Sometimes a simple shift of the angle or adjustment of an inch or two is enough to make for a more comfortable and quicker ride. To get the proper fit, you may want to consult your local bike shop to get just the right angle for your ride.
8. Checking Spoke Tension
If your wheel is feeling a bit off-kilter, consider checking the spokes. If you notice a loose spoke, never ignore it because your wheel and other spokes will begin to break down more quickly if something is off balance. To be sure, grab each spoke in the center and try to move it side-to-side and see if it shifts or seems loose. This check only takes a few moments, and if you find a wobbly spoke, you’ll need to tighten it, replace it, or even true your wheel.
9. Truing the Wheel
The art of truing a bike wheel is a bit ‘next level’, but it’s easy to do in your garage with a simple truing stand. If you’ll be riding somewhere with curbs, potholes, or dips, you’ll definitely need to learn how to true your wheel to keep everything centered. With this important skill, you’ll have your wheel straightened up in no time and avoid extra trips to the shop!
Now that you’ve got your repair kit and pump in hand, you’re ready to hit the road. And next time you hit a snag en route, your riding buddies will thank you!