Whether you are repairing your own bicycle that has lain unused for some time, or you have just bought a second hand bike that needs some repairs, finding spares and making repairs is not all that difficult if you do some research first. Here are the four important bicycle repairs that are essential for a smooth, safe ride.
- Fixing a flat tire
You will need a patch kit, a pump, a spare tube and tire levers.
Open the brakes and remove the wheel from the frame. Next, remove the tire and tube with a tire lever, making sure all the air is out and the air valve is off. Inspect the tire for sharp objects that have caused the flat. Inflate the new tube and insert into the tire. Using a slightly narrower tube than the tire makes the job easier. Partly inflate the tire to check it is sitting properly, then inflate it fully. The final step is to reinstall the wheel in the frame. Practice makes quicker – a pro can change a flat in ten minutes compared to thirty minutes for a beginner.
- Chain Repair
Chains are subject to wear and should be replaced regularly. The connecting pins holding the links together become worn by grit, making the chain ‘stretch’. You will need a chain tool costing around $4 for this job.
Use the chain tool to pull out one of the pins on the chain far enough that the chain can be pulled part. Do not remove the pin completely.
You will need to check your new chain has the same number of links as the old one. Thread the first part of the chain over the front derailer from the rear. Then pass the rest of the chain over the cogs. If you are not yet experiences with this, find someone to help you or look online for a good video to help you do it correctly. At the end, repeat the process you used to undo the chain at the beginning, in reverse, and push the pin back in.
- Wheel straightening
You will need a truing stand, a spoke wrench and grabber, a tension meter and a dishing gauge. Loosen the spokes, remove the wheel and place in a vice grip sandwiched between two pieces of wood.. Apply pressure along the bent area to straighten it out. Tighten the spokes. Your wheel should not wobble from side to side.
- Brake Maintenance
A bicycle can have two types of brake systems: brake pads or disc brakes.
Brake pads wear down with use and need to be replaced. Usually this is indicated by having to press the brake hard, and also if there are no grooves left on the pads. Brakes are a very important safety feature and should always be in tip top condition.
Cartridge pads just need to be slid into place while bolt-on pads require a bit more work. Loosen the bolt and align the pad correctly. You may need to wet it slightly to push it in. Check that you have fixed the new brake by comparing it with the old.