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Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

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Old 07-16-02, 04:32 AM   #1
Bikes-N-Drums
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Learning The Tricks

When I called about getting my bike repaired I was astonished at the prices involved. Then I thought I've been riding long enough that I should know more about bike mechanics than I do and would like to be able to do the more simple things such as tune ups, adjustments, etc. At best, I can change a flat. I have a few trash bikes to try things on too.

Where does one go or what does one get to attain the knowledge to fix one's bike? Thanks!
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Old 07-16-02, 04:52 AM   #2
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Online, you should look at:

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/articles.html

and

http://www.parktool.com/repair_help/FAQindex.shtml
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Old 07-16-02, 04:57 AM   #3
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BOOKS!!!! There are many titles available. Check the archives here and you'll get at least a dozen titles. Check used book stores, new bookstores, some LBS's carry them, check Amazon for books on the web. Park Tool, and Harris Cyclery on the web for "How To" info. There may even be something at Bicycling magazine.
Anybody who can learn to play the drums, can certainly learn to wield a wrench. Good luck.
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Old 07-16-02, 10:44 AM   #4
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Haynes, who makes automobile repair manuals, put out a good bicycle repair manual. It has an analysis section that helps nail down possible causes for a given problem, and many well-done photos. It's about US$25 and can probably be ordered from an auto-parts dealer, a book store or your LBS.

Some useful skills to start with, and maybe you already have these:
  • Changing a flat tire, patching tubes
  • Using a chainbreaker to remove/replace a chain, and particularly mastery of the stiff-link loosener position, which many people never notice
  • Using a crank extractor to take your cranks off the spindle
  • Using a freewheel remover, or a cassette-lockring tool and chain whip, to get your gear cluster off the rear wheel
  • Adjusting a rear derailleur, since they suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune so often

Happy wrenching!
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Old 07-16-02, 11:47 AM   #5
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Specifically, Leonard Zinn's books - one for the road bike, one for the mountain bike - are indispensible. I have the MTB one, but it is comprehensive enough that I didn't feel the need to buy the other, or anyone else's, either.

Some basic tools. . .

Crank puller - you may need two, one for square cranks, one for splined. About $15-20 each.

Bottom bracket tool - to tighten and install cartridge bearing BBs. About $10 +/-.

Cassette lockring tool - to remove or install standard, splined cassettes. $5-10.

Chain whip - again, to remore or install cassettes. $10-15.

Chain tool - to break the chain. $10-30.

Cable & housing cutters - to cut the ends off brake and shifter cables and to cut housing to proper length. I get by with standard wire cutters, but they are not ideal.

Other incidentals for your tool kit. . . zip ties, electrical tape, cable ends, small phillips and flat screw drivers, metric allen wrenches, pliers and a small tool box (x-mart for $5). $50 to $100 gets you a decent tool kit.

The cost of these tools will pay for themselves the first time you use them.
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Old 07-16-02, 12:03 PM   #6
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I like the hands on approach. Rip apart your old bike. Another thing that goes on out here are clinics. Try and find a local clinic to visit.
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Old 07-16-02, 09:52 PM   #7
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Hay, I like Maelstrom's approch myself. I get a hammer and a pair of vice-grips, maybe a screw driver and, oh wait, thats my lawnmower I'm thinking of. (a hammer?)

No joking, most stuff is self explaining once you take it apart. One thing to keep in mind however, just because you didn't need a special tool to take it apart, dosen't mean you won't need one to get it back together!
Good luck.
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Old 07-17-02, 07:49 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Soberone
One thing to keep in mind however, just because you didn't need a special tool to take it apart, dosen't mean you won't need one to get it back together!
Good luck.
Cone wrench comes to mind. I repacked my wheel bearings last weekend without any instruction (OK I checked some websites for adjusting the cones) and discovered that needle nose pliars are not a substitute for a cone wrench.
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Old 07-18-02, 02:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bikes-N-Drums
When I called about getting my bike repaired I was astonished at the prices involved. Then I thought I've been riding long enough that I should know more about bike mechanics than I do and would like to be able to do the more simple things such as tune ups, adjustments, etc. At best, I can change a flat. I have a few trash bikes to try things on too.

Where does one go or what does one get to attain the knowledge to fix one's bike? Thanks!
Which bike shop did you call and what are you having done?

If I feel brave I just get my repair manual out and go at it - once I've invested a small fortune in buying the necessary tools and parts.
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Old 07-18-02, 02:39 PM   #10
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A fairly low-risk way of learning bike repair is to buy a $10 1970s sport bike and fix it up. You can strip it right down and build it up again. Even if you reuse the balls and cones and stuff, you have still learnt a lot.
Old freewheels sometimes take different tools. I always find a bench vice useful for that task.
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Old 07-18-02, 04:09 PM   #11
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Go to a library and check out the books about bicycle repair.

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Old 07-28-02, 06:25 AM   #12
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http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/AS...996987-3287040


you might stop in Waldenbooks and eyeball Bicycling Magazine's Complete Guide to Bicycle Maintenance and Repair
It is 8x11 324 pages I continue to learn from it.

There is a certain amount of positive transfer of training from auto mech to bikes. I am something of a shadetree mechanic and do most of the maintenance on the GMC 3/4 ton 4x4 pickup that I bought new in 1976 and drive daily.

Last edited by vlad; 07-28-02 at 06:30 AM.
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