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  1. #1
    Senior Member BikeArkansas's Avatar
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    Repairing and maintaining your own bike

    After several months into biking I realized how much maintenance and repairs are needed on bicycles. I try to ride a minimum of 100 miles each week, and have done that except two weeks since the first of March. I have found that parts wear out, seemingly quickly. I was taking my bike to the LBS. The problems I found with that was the number of times the repairs would take at least a week. This time factor was mixed with some hefty hourly rates, so I bought a basic set of tools along with a bike stand and a bike repair book. So far, this has worked very well. I was wondering if most of you do this, or very few of you do this. For those that do have their own tools, are you glad you did this?
    I started riding my bike to get healthy. Now I try to stay healthy so I can ride my bike.

  2. #2
    Senior Member guybierhaus's Avatar
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    As a child, there was beer, cigars and tools in my parents home for me to sneak and do whatever. Didn't really care for the beer, cigars made me sick, that left the tools. At one time I've pretty much taken apart everything. After working on my own cars, a bike is a breeze. And I can do it in the family room in front of the TV. And now I even like the beer.
    BierHaus Bertolette Road Bike, built 2007
    BierHaus SRT Trail Bike, built 2010
    Fuji Mt. Pro - 2007

  3. #3
    Squirrel solveg's Avatar
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    I just assembled my bike stand tonight! Got a list of things to do...

  4. #4
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    You're right. There's a lot of satisfaction and big monetary savings in repairing
    you own bike. I've been doing most of my own repairs for most of my life.
    It started out as self repair jobs out of necessity....teen with no dough with a bike
    that won't go. Then it kinda turned into a labor of love. Bikes are simple yet
    fascinating pieces of machinery. I will occasionally use an LBS just to stay current as to
    where the good Wrenches are, as sometimes I'm just too busy to do my own work.
    Other times, with newer equipment, I am just in over my head. Of course, with the
    right book and enought time.....I'm confident I can learn even the newer gadgets (rapid
    fire shifting etc.).

  5. #5
    Squirrel solveg's Avatar
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    Here's a cool mainenance schedule...

    http://wojcyclery.com/page.cfm?pageID=152

  6. #6
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    It starts with making a few adjustments, repairs and replacements to save a few bucks and some time. Before you know it you'll be building bikes from bare frames and a pile of parts, reconfiguring bikes for different types of riding and restoring old bikes to good working order. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  7. #7
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    I do everything except wheelbuilding. It's not that hard, it just takes common sense and some slight mechanical understanding. The investment in tools will pay for itself quickly.

  8. #8
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    I maintain all my bikes. I take them all to the LBS each and every time they need maintenance.
    Visit my blog! The Leadership Almanac
    2012 Masi Evoluzione
    2009 Specialized Globe Vienna 2

    Proud member of the original Club Tombay

  9. #9
    Healthy and active twobikes's Avatar
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    I have always done my own mechanical work on everything. Whenever a significant change in design comes along, I find a good manual and use it heavily. I especially enjoy making or improvising special tools rather than buying them, whenever possible. Often the person who does his own work can do it better because he is the one who actually uses the piece of equipment and thoroughly knows the symptoms of the problem. Sometimes he can make things work better than new. I have had machines arrive from the factory with parts installed backwards or not properly adjusted.
    Who am I?
    Where did I come from?
    Why am I here?
    Where am I going?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by twobikes View Post
    I have always done my own mechanical work on everything. Whenever a significant change in design comes along, I find a good manual and use it heavily. I especially enjoy making or improvising special tools rather than buying them, whenever possible. Often the person who does his own work can do it better because he is the one who actually uses the piece of equipment and thoroughly knows the symptoms of the problem. Sometimes he can make things work better than new. I have had machines arrive from the factory with parts installed backwards or not properly adjusted.
    Well said and I concur. The new bikes I've brought home from LBS's were never quite set up to my standards. I'm not knocking the LBS guys, it's just that I'm a bit more fussy than the average bear. I've got to "tweak" things so it feels right.

  11. #11
    lunatic fringe Dogbait's Avatar
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    I do all of my own maintenance. A good stand and a basic set of tools will get you started. As you progress into more in-depth work, you will have to add some tools... next thing you know, you need a larger toolbox. I take a good deal of pleasure in the fact that I know what is going on in the inner workings of the brakes, dérailleurs, hubs and bottom bracket. Once you get to know how a dérailleur works, it is easier to adjust it quickly. If a headset needs adjustment, I can take care of it in a couple of minutes, as opposed to leaving it at the shop for a week or ignoring it because the shop will take too long and thus turn a simple adjustment problem into a headset replacement at the end of the season.

    I would suggest that you buy good quality tools... they will last a lifetime and are so much easier to use than a cheap imitation, which isn't really so cheap after you buy two or three of them. A good book will be helpful but I use on line resources more often when I need some guidance. The two I use most often are:

    Sheldon Brown

    Park Tool Repair Help

    In addition to these two, if I need specific info for a certain make/model of a component, I can often download tech manuals from the manufacturers web site. This has saved my butt on a number of occasions.

    I have been very satisfied with doing my own work. It is nice to know that it has been done the way I want it done. I am not at all worried that it takes me a little more time than a shop would spend on a job.

    Of the five bikes in my signature, only the newest (RANS F5) was bought as a complete, new bike. The rest were built up from bare frames in my living room.

  12. #12
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Luckily I am a trained mechanic from the Forces but that was getting on for 40 years ago. I worked as a 2 stroke engine mechanic and had my own business in France within Karting. I work within the motor trade but in the parts supply side so mechanical knowledge is still required. So I am mechanically minded- But I was maintaining and repairing my bikes from the age of my dad telling me not to use a hammer to take that part off with.(Dad was a mechanic aswell)

    So I do all my own maintenance on the bikes- but as I have got older- I am more inclined to put the bikes into the shop for major work- But I don't so the spare bike might get used for a couple of weeks. The only part I don't do is major work on the wheels. Retrue yes but whenever wheels start getting loose spokes- or rebuild- The shop gets the business.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

  13. #13
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    If you are like me, you have to take something apart and put it back together to understand how it works, how it is different from similar things and how it should be adjusted to work well. Bicycles are interesting in that many people ride but far fewer actually work on all elements of the bike. There seem to be more 50+ members with hands on experience on the bicycles but this may be a generational thing as the same rule seems to apply to the working world (fewer and fewer competent young folks with hands on ability).

    At any rate, there are basic repair tasks that everyone should learn.....cleaning chains, adjusting brakes, fixing flats and checking for loose parts.

    Beyond that it's nice to be able to change a part for something that suits your particular tastes.

    If you get hooked then ultimately you will build a bike.

  14. #14
    Senior Member BikeArkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddmaxx View Post
    If you are like me, you have to take something apart and put it back together to understand how it works, how it is different from similar things and how it should be adjusted to work well. Bicycles are interesting in that many people ride but far fewer actually work on all elements of the bike. There seem to be more 50+ members with hands on experience on the bicycles but this may be a generational thing as the same rule seems to apply to the working world (fewer and fewer competent young folks with hands on ability).

    At any rate, there are basic repair tasks that everyone should learn.....cleaning chains, adjusting brakes, fixing flats and checking for loose parts.

    Beyond that it's nice to be able to change a part for something that suits your particular tastes.

    If you get hooked then ultimately you will build a bike.
    After only a few repairs and parts replacement I understand how a person could get "hooked" and will want to build their own. My brother already does his own rebuilds and he enjoys the mechanics about as much as the riding, except the mechanic work does not keep him in shape. I am very happy with getting into the mechanic end of this sport and I did buy Park tools to start, which was advice from my brother.
    I started riding my bike to get healthy. Now I try to stay healthy so I can ride my bike.

  15. #15
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    One of the problems of doing your own maintenance is the amount of work you do on the bike. On the mountain bikes- I strip the bikes down to a bare frame each year. On stripping I check all parts for wear and clean them. It is surprising how many parts are still in servicable condition on that strip down and are not replaced. Problem is that a bit of wear now will cause a problem later on when it fails so do you replace it now- Or Wait till it causes a problem and has to be replaced.

    Did this with the Tandem earlier in the year and Chainrings were worn just a bit. I replaced the small ring and the chain and went for a gentle settling in ride. Checked the bike again for loose bolts or misaligned parts and we went for a Testing ride in anger. Could not use the middle ring with power so did a 35 mile offroad in big ring or granny. Back home and got it replaced. Next ride and we could only use the Lower gears on the cassette. The rear cassette was worn so another 35 in the wrong gears and lots of crosschaining. Back home and I thought about the crossover rings- Never caused a problem but after the other Ring problems- I changed them and put a new Chain on that bit.

    So 3 weeks after a major rebuild- we went and did a long ride. Got home checked the bike and I had not tightened all the chainring bolts and lost a couple- It was a miracle that we had survived the ride.

    So if you are doing your own maintenance- be prepared fto spend a bit of time waiting for parts to come in and for the bike to be offroad between visits to the LBS. Oh And get a bigger wallet- I may only want a $30 chainring so why do I buy yet another pair of gloves and 4 tubes to add to the 6 tubes already in the shed and the 4 pairs of gloves I already have.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

  16. #16
    Third World Layabout crtreedude's Avatar
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    I tend to do most of my own repairs since the nearest LBS is 1 1/2 hours away. They do an okay job, but nothing like what I want - and it tends to be inconsistant. I prefer to do it myself.

    Besides, how else can I justify tools?

  17. #17
    Left OZ now in Malaysia jibi's Avatar
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    On tour I have to do repairs myself most of the time, there are some repairs that need specialist equipment, like brazing frames ( never had it happen yet touch wood)

    Over the years I have researched to find a low maintainance bike.

    Fortunately this has meant I have only had to change oil in my Rohloff hub, brake blocks, and chain for the last 2 years.

    But having the ability to do other stuff makes touring a much more pleasurable experience, and I have helped others on the road,

    Seems like most of us here have tinkered with mechanical stuff and have learnt over the years how to make and mend.

    george
    ---------------------------------------------------
    https://sites.google.com/site/imjibi/home

    Photos of present tour of South East Asia
    http://picasaweb.google.com/georgeidf50/southeastasia

  18. #18
    Senior Member rodrigaj's Avatar
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    I do all my own work except wheel building, headset, and BB.

    Even with the so called "free" work that was included on my wifes new trek, I found the hassles of bringing in the bike not worth it.

    I have found in working with teens that fewer and fewer of them are getting the "hands-on" kind of experience that we had. Simple basic mechanical repair is being replaced by the ability to set up xbox video games.

  19. #19
    Senior Member jazzy_cyclist's Avatar
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    I'm not a high-level mechanic, but after I got hooked a few years ago, I decided that I wanted to have a deeper understanding of how everything worked, so I took a couple of the Park Tools classes, and then built a bike up from parts because I figured that I'd only understand my "dream" bike if I could experiment and try different stuff. I started out thinking that I would get a rusty frame from the Goodwill store, but I ended up buying a carbon fiber frame on ebay, than a full Ultegra gruppo from my LBS. I am really happy that I did.

    I still refer to the Park Tools site or a book on occasion, but when something is wrong, I have an idea of what it is. It also gives me something to do when there's ice and snow on the roads <sniff>; I'm working on building up a fixie when I get the time.

    I'm a little more constricted about whether to work on my wife's bike or not. Last year, I put the rear wheel back on a little crooked which caused it to rub against the brakes - she was not happy

  20. #20
    Senior Member boston blackie's Avatar
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    Tried to adjust my Campy der's - forgetabowdit!

  21. #21
    Violin guitar mandolin
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    The high level of maintenance and general delicacy of road bikes baffles me. Essentially a late 19th design executed in high-tech (or probably just medium-tech) materials, with better design.

    I've not been particularly happy with the set up work done by others, especially the young and somewhat arrogant. On the bikes I've bought from the last few years from shops I've seen too many silly things done. Poor detailing. Antiseize. Bevel the ends of cut casing against a wheel. Adjust casing length for smooth run. Get the wheels really true. Adjust things properly. For example, line up the front derailleur carefully instead of bending the cage. Sloppy work.

    So I've gone back to doing everything. I haven't gone as far as making a frame, although I've done plenty of that in steel. But when I get something new I tear it down and go through it all. Isn't much trouble.

    The maintenance is what kills me. The amount we ride, I'm cleaning the chains every couple of weeks. That's like having to change the oil in a car every couple of weeks! Silly given the low-maintenance technology we've built into most things. I've got a separate building (small) set up as a mini-shop and all the stuff is there. But still a pain.

  22. #22
    Do I use too many commas?
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    Why should I pay for someone else to screw it up? I can do that myself!

    I really recommend Bicycling Magazine's book on Bike repair and maintenance.

  23. #23
    Senior Member
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    I have been a mechanic by trade, for over forty years, motorcycle, cars, heavey truck, etc. I have the tools and the skills to maintain virtually anything, but I try to support my LBS as much as possible. I'm older now with six grandchildren, and letting the LBS maintain my bike gives me more time for the important things in life, like riding with my grandchildren. It is also nice when I need a part or accessory, to let LBS chase it down for me. The $2 or so more I pay, is well worth it to me in time saved.

    For those of you who still enjoy puttering with your bike, do it, everyone needs a diversion or two.

    John
    Slow but steady

  24. #24
    Senior Member gpelpel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guybierhaus View Post
    As a child, there was beer, cigars and tools in my parents home for me to sneak and do whatever. Didn't really care for the beer, cigars made me sick, that left the tools. At one time I've pretty much taken apart everything. After working on my own cars, a bike is a breeze. And I can do it in the family room in front of the TV. And now I even like the beer.

  25. #25
    Senior Member gpelpel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddmaxx View Post
    If you are like me, you have to take something apart and put it back together to understand how it works, how it is different from similar things and how it should be adjusted to work well. Bicycles are interesting in that many people ride but far fewer actually work on all elements of the bike. There seem to be more 50+ members with hands on experience on the bicycles but this may be a generational thing as the same rule seems to apply to the working world (fewer and fewer competent young folks with hands on ability).

    At any rate, there are basic repair tasks that everyone should learn.....cleaning chains, adjusting brakes, fixing flats and checking for loose parts.

    Beyond that it's nice to be able to change a part for something that suits your particular tastes.

    If you get hooked then ultimately you will build a bike.
    +1.
    I have now built 4 bikes in the last 4 years (3 road + 1 MTB) and taught and helped my 14 yo son build 2 MTBs. He can now adjust and fix almost anything and he is helping his friends taking care of their bikes.
    Bike maintenance is not difficult and the tools needed are quite simple and cheap to get ($35 tool kit from Performance/Nashbar and a basic workstand). Yet it is invaluable if you ride a lot, not only in money saved but mainly to get you out of a jam if something goes wrong far away from home.
    Knowing how wheels are built and how to true them got me out of trouble when I broke a spoke 20 miles short of the end of a century couple years ago. The wheel became so out of true that it rubbed some carbon off a seatstay, I pulled my spoke key, released tension on a couple of spokes and could finish the ride although on a very wobbly wheel.

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