Bicycle Mechanics - questions from a beginner (help pls.)
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I don't know how to ride a bike and now that I have one I'd like to learn how to use it. Bicycling websites are no help because I have no idea what they are talking about. They're all too advanced for someone like me who has never ridden one.
First of all, why are the pedals not turning when I "walk" the bike forward? is that normal?
When I walk it backwards that thing, that little thing beside the rear wheel I think it's called derailer (?), is slowly yanked forward by the chain then snaps back down after a while.
The chain keeps falling off when I ride it probably because I don't know where to put the darn thing. There are so many spoked discs! If I put the chain on the biggest gear in front, do I then lay it on the smallest gear at the rear wheel?
I've put off learning because of these problems.
Also, I just had it "fixed" by my brothers friend last week and my dad keeps saying there's nothing wrong with it!
Could someone point me to a site (preferrably with big pictures) where I can see the correct placement of the chain?
12-15-03, 12:41 PM
Bike wheels have a freewheel mechanism, so you dont have to spin your pedals when you roll down a hill. Thats why they freewheel in one direction, and not the other.
The rear mechansims (derailleur in bike-speak) will flip back if it is not well aligned with one of the rear cogs. You should only pedal forward when moving the mech (using a gear lever). NEVER back-pedal when changing gear, or you will flip the chain off and jam it.
As far as starter advice for non-cyclists, there is not much around. Its really hard to explain, but fairly easy to demonstrate BUT dont take lessons from a non cyclist.
The main steps, are (IMHO)
1. Use a failry lowish gear (med-large cog at the rear, med-small cog at the front).
2. Set your saddle quite low (You should raise it when you can ride).
3. Pick a flat, safe place away from people and cars.
4. Wear a helmet, gloves and clothing to protect you from grazes.
5. Its easier to balance when you get some speed up, and pedal.
6. Bikes dont travel in straight lines, but a series of swoopy curves. A straight line is really a set of very large swoopy curves.
6. Learn to brake: Brake will stop the bike, but you must brace against the bars to stop yourself. Brake gradually, dont grab the brakes hard.
7. Dont ride on the road until you can control the bike properly.
8. Dont ride on bike paths until you can control the bike properly.
I learned more from your reply than two days of browsing websites on this subject. I can't wait to learn.
Thank you so much Michael!
12-15-03, 12:58 PM
First, when you roll the bike forward, the pedals should not turn. This is called freewheeling and it allows you to coast on your bicycle.
Second, the way you describe your derailleur behaving when you roll the bicycle backwards is normal.
As for how to shift your bike...
Up front on the pedals you have a set of large gears called chainrings. In back, you have a cluster of smaller gears called cogs. Different combinations of cogs and chainrings give you different gear ratios. The largest chainring and smallest cog give you the biggest gear ratio. It makes the bike travel farthest with every turn of the pedals, but is also the most difficult to pedal. It is useful for going downhill, or very fast on the flats.
The smallest chainring and largest cog give you the smallest gear ratio. It is very easy to turn the pedals, but you don't go very far with each revolution of the pedals. In other words, you go slowly. The small gear ratios are useful for climbing hills.
Be sure that you are pedalling forward when you shift gears. If the chain is reluctant to move from one cog or chainring to another, ease off the pressure you put on the pedals, but keep pedalling.
I suggest that you start riding with the bike in a medium gear. If you have 3 chainrings, put the chain on the middle one, and use a cog in the middle of the cluster. If you have only two chainrings, use the smaller one. Shift when it becomes difficult to pedal.
Also, the chain coming off...I assume you mean that it is coming off of the chainrings, though it may also come off of the cogs. It indicates a problem of some sort. Either the chain is too long, or your derailleur is not adjusted properly. If your brother's friend knows what he's doing, he can adjust the derailleurs for you. If not, have a qualified mechanic work on it. Ham fisted amateurs can mess up good bikes.
Here's an online article that may help you understand your bike a little better:
And another one:
Check out the section on "Drives and Gears" especially.
As everyone on this board can tell you, bicycling is a fun and rewarding form of recreation, exercise and transportation. I hope this will help you to enjoy your bicycle. Good luck!
Oh! One more thought. If you live anywhere near northern Illinois, I'd be happy to show you how these things work. Maybe another member in your locale could help, too. Or, get down to a local bike shop and ask the mechanic for some help. Some of them may be willing.
wow this is such a supportive place, I'm so glad I found it.
Thanks for the advice and I will check out those sites.
I'm sure there are biking enthusiasts here in Las Vegas and
I will try to get involved.
I'm more excited than ever! I can't thank you enough.
12-15-03, 01:25 PM
Yeah, bicycle lingo can get pretty complicated. Let me give you some tips
Pedals are well, PEDALS (starting pretty easy huh?)
The CRANKS are what the pedals are attached to.
The BOTTOM BRACKET is where the cranks attach to the frame, and where the bearings are.
CHAINRINGS are the toothed rings where the chain rides on. These can come in one, two or three ring combinations.
The gear shifter thingy is called a DERAILLEUR (de-rail-your)
Now toward the back wheel.
The rubber is the TIRE, the metal at the tire is the RIM. Inside the tire is the TUBE. There are two types of valves for tubes. PRESTA and SCHRAEDER. Presta are thin wierd looking ones, Schraeder are like your car tires.
SPOKES are the thin wire things attaching the rim to the HUB.
The HUB is the center of the wheel and also contains bearings.
Attached to the hub is the CASSETTE, which are also toothed rings(COGS-individual toothed rings), but usually bunched together. There can be 5,6,7,8,9, or even 10 of these COGS that together make up a CASSETTE. (Confused?) I hope not.
The other shifter thingy is called a REAR DERAILLEUR.
The seat can also be known as a SADDLE.
The thing the saddle is attached to is the SEATPOST.
The front wheel is attached to a FORK.
The fork has a single tube at the top, that attaches to the frame via a HEADSET.
A headset is where the bearings are for the front end.
The steerer tube of the fork comes through to the top of the headset and a STEM attaches to it.
The STEM attaches to the steerer tube on one end and the handlebars on the other.
On the handlebars, are the SHIFTER and the BRAKE LEVERS.
That's a basic quideline. I hope that helps. It's pretty basic, and I didn't mean to be derrogatory in any way.
You were very helpful actually. These are terms I'll encounter throughout the process and I thank you for your time.
12-15-03, 05:06 PM
How to ride 101
Put the seat (the thing your butt rests on) as low as you can.
Put your feet (the things attached to your legs) on the ground.
Shuffle yourself forward (the opposite of backwards)
Gradually lift your feet off the ground (the thing under the wheels) and coast.
Shuffle again and put your feet on the pedals (the things attached to the cranks)
Shuffle, put your feet on the pedals, and move your feet forward (opposite of reverse) Your now riding.
Where do you live??? Maybe a board member can ride over and give you a lesson or two.....
12-15-03, 09:13 PM
The helpful replies that you were given here are actually very indicative of the general attitude of the cycling community.
Although any new activity can be intimidating when you first get involved, cyclists, by and large, are very happy to help newcomers. Hey, btw, welcome to the club!
A great place to start is your LBS (Local Bike Shop). Most of the people there, if not swamped, are more than happy to chat it up and help you along. If not, find another.
If your bike is in need of a tune-up, and they say, "We'd be happy to do it! $35 bucks please..." well, that's what they're in business for.
If you decline, they won't (or shouldn't) hold that against you.
Just let your own b.s. detector be your guide and you should be just fine.
That's very reassuring. I bet this is gonna be my new hobby.
Btw, I'm able to pedal for a little less than 10 seconds now!
It feels great, expect for the bruises :)
12-16-03, 07:29 AM
Btw, I'm able to pedal for a little less than 10 seconds now!
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