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HOW did you become a bike "maintainer"?

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HOW did you become a bike "maintainer"?

Old 05-09-04, 04:25 AM
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bicicletta
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HOW did you become a bike "maintainer"?

So, today was the day that I got intimate with my bike. I took off both tires and gave the entire thing a good cleaning. I checked the pressure in my tires, examined just how it is the gears move, that kind of thing. It seems two months is FAR too long to go without cleaning, especially when you live in one of the most polluted cities in the world...(I blame EVERYTHING on pollution...so it could just be normal grime for all I know). Anyway, I started having a look at all of the bells and whistles on my bike. The bike came directly from the Giant manufacturer in Taiwan and it doesn't have a "make". The frame is designed for tourering, with custom panniers and all and I've been told that the components are good.

hmmmm...I don't know. I know that the Rapid Suspension Technology has me baffled (so any advice tips on how often I have to put air into them would be great).

All right. I've vowed to learn how to repair what I might need to repair on a tour (due date: July 15th) and today was day one. It didn't go so hot. There was a lot of mystified pauses and head shaking. But as the bike sits, once again assembled, I feel like I learned a lot. However, I must have screwed SOMETHING up, as now my chain rubs the outside of my front derailleur (the fact that I just learned what a front derailleur is today should speak volumes). Tomorrow, it's into the bike shop for a tuning. Great, you might think....a good lesson to be had....but I live in Seoul, which means that my bike mechanic speaks Korean, making it hard from me to get much out of the explanation.
boo-hoo.
My question: it seems like there are many extremely knowledgable people on this forum, discussing things that involve a lot of lofty bike vocabulary. Did you just learn like me....a repair book and a lot of headshakes? Did you take a class? Should I attempt to fix my front derailleur myself (other posts indicated that I likely have to adjust the rear derailleur....) or take it into someone who knows what they're doing?
Inspiration would be great, as I sit with very dirty fingernails and I strong resolve to learn.
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Old 05-09-04, 07:08 AM
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dobber
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Read, learn, ride

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=38747

It ain't so hard once you get going. Simple mechanics.
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Old 05-09-04, 09:29 AM
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When I was 5, I borrowed the adjustable wrench and somehow managed to remove the training wheels off my bike. (w/help from dad) Then I went to all the neighborhood kids and tried to convince them to let me do the same for them. Even today, I'm a better mechanic than I am a salesman.

I think it takes a love for things mechanical along with that certain talent to be patient and work things out before actually doing them. And the willingness to learn and make mistakes.

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Old 05-09-04, 09:37 AM
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Get a book like Bicycling's basic one or Zinn's guide, and read. When you do something for the first time, lay the book near you and follow along.

I would say that unless you do become a bike maintainer, you will become a pedestrian!
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Old 05-09-04, 09:40 AM
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I didn't have any other choice. I had a lot of kids and no money so I had to learn how to cobble bicycles together and make them work by myself.

If we learn from our mistakes, I just may be the smartest bike mechanic in the world because I've made plenty.
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Old 05-09-04, 09:55 AM
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hey,u'll learn the simple mechanics at first and that'll lead u to learn more of the bikes simplicity but yet the complexity of it all! i've learned alot from my gt mountain bike these past two years and love the fact that i now know how to fix & repair and replace thing's on it{lol}...mostly replacing component's.it feels good to know that ur bike is in good working order when ur out there on a ride and the ride is what "love"the most.so today is my birthday(38 )and i'm going to celebrate by going for a ride! take care...david from raleigh nc!
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Old 05-09-04, 10:06 AM
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Over time I've purchased more than a few books on bicycle maintenance. But being the kind of person who learns more by example than reading about it, a Park Tool School class given by a local bike shop did more for me than all the books. Now I can do most everything regarding the build-up and maintenance of bicycles, with the exception of wheel building. And that's this winters project, to learn how to do that.
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Old 05-09-04, 10:29 AM
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Like many DIY'ers on this forum I started disassembling things in and around the house, including bikes, at a very young age simply to satisfy my curiosity at how & why most things worked. No books.
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Old 05-09-04, 11:23 AM
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I just basically found that taking the bike to the bike shop was more trouble than it was worth and they didn´t fix the problems properly. I live in Munich in Bavaria where customer service is notoriously poor (any quite rude into the bargain).

I never intended to start with bike mechanics as I am not particularly mechanically gifted but it just became clear that I could not rely on the bike shops. I just set about learning what I could about bike mechanics on my own. I read what I could on the net. This forum is invaluable and also see the Park tool site, Sheldon brown´s site and the Utah mountain bike site. I bought some tools and just learnt by trial and error.

I would love to do a Park tool course but I doubt whether the bike shops round here will be running any.

Personally I have found front derailleurs by far to be the most tricky thing to adjust on a bike. Just try and adjust it and if you cant do it then take the bike to the bike shop and get them to do it. If the rear derailleur is shifting Ok then it would probably not be a good idea to try adjusting the rear derailleur.
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Old 05-09-04, 09:08 PM
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It just never occurred to me NOT to do it myself. I started riding again recently - maybe 18 months ago, but daily a year ago - and when I first started riding, I asked my friend who rode everywhere how to do some basic maintenance things... and she had no idea. It blew my mind that anyone would use a mechanical device without being compulsed to figurte out how it worked - that's just the obsessive way my mind works - so I went directly from that conversation to the library, and from the library to screwing my bike up... and from there to a mess of websites, figuring things out as I messed them up! I'm still learning by experience continually, and am now trying to convince that friend that she can do her own maintenance as well.

-chris
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Old 05-09-04, 09:22 PM
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Hands on is the best teacher!
So next time you manage to get to Osan or Suwon say 'hi' for me to some of the mammasans! Used Hwy 1 when it was still a dirt road!
Was stationed briefly in Seoul and spent a few days in Taegue also back in '52-'53. Yes, I know, there was a war going on then. Yes old as I am (71) i still manage to get in 125-150 miles a week.
Ask the Korean mechanic if you can watch what he's doing and buy him an Asahi beer.
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Old 05-09-04, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by zonatandem
Ask the Korean mechanic if you can watch what he's doing and buy him an Asahi beer.
You mean an OB lager. I would offer my gardner an Asahi...
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Old 05-10-04, 04:53 AM
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Those bike manuals are great. Thanks for the link i'll add it to my site too.
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Old 05-11-04, 07:18 AM
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The Barnett's manuals from the link posted above look like a great start

Just getting into riding myself, I'm thinking that this winter (since I'll be a bit 'snowed in' here in Michigan) I'll buy a good manual and a $10 'junk' bike or two and tear them apart and try to figure things out.

I'm not much good with a wrench, so I figure I'll let the LBS take care of my new Trek, at least until I have some practice. I figure if I can't get the $10 bike back together, I can put it out with the trash and start over vs doing it with the Trek, and then having to load it into the van and head down to the LBS with a roll of cash. Beside, right now I just want the thing tuned in so I can ride, ride, ride....

-jeff
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Old 05-11-04, 09:41 AM
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I putzed around with my bikes off and on, usually screwing them up and taking them into a shop to get my new problem fixed. But I knew a decent amount about how to spin a wrench on a bike before I started working at a shop. That did it. The only thing that I really have problems with is dishing rear wheels, but that will come with practice, and I can only convince my wife to let me have so many rear wheels at one time.

As for how to learn, as you can probably tell, it depends on how you learn. I am a visual learner so it helps me to see and then to do. This is why working in a shop was perfect. For me. Books and classes are the way to go, though. The biggest problem with trying to teach yourself something is the teacher. Hard to teach something when you don't know about it. And even if you get it working, you may find that there's a far better way to do it than the way you did. Just like anything else, think about how you learn and try to find instruction that is tailored to you. Take it from there. It'll come.
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Old 05-11-04, 10:56 PM
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http://www.parktool.com/repair_help/index.shtml
Another great link easy to follow instructions.
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Old 05-12-04, 12:30 AM
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I learned by buying an old Gitane with the intent of converting it to a SS.

This taught me quite a few things,
1) Cotter pins suck.
2) I needed more tools
3) Working on bikes is easy

2+ years and 15 bikes later I would consider myself a decent mechanic, able to do most anything except wheel building (no truing stand yet), and repairing threads.
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Old 05-12-04, 02:23 AM
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First I decided to build my own rims, which I read up and researched on. It was a lot of hit and miss at first. Then I decided that I was going to put together a bike from the frame up. Which I had a lot of help from talking to LBS and observing them while they were working on my bikes. And I would ask them a lot of questions every now and then. Now after building three bikes from scratch it became very easy once I done this a few times. So it was out of my desire to put together my own rig that I learned how to mess with a bike from head to toe. My friends call me the bike Dr. now, sure why not.
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Old 05-12-04, 08:43 AM
  #19  
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i started to become a bicycle maintainer when my dad helped me fiddle around with derailleurs and seat adjustments and whatnot. He showed me that with some common sense and careful observation, you can figure out what every part of the bicycle is for and how it works. well, along with a little bit of help from Barnett's Manuals, as linked at the top of the forums, in learning to remove things like bottom brackets and rear cassettes.

tires, rim brakes, and derailleurs are really just a matter of fiddling with stuff till you get the results you want, though.
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Old 05-12-04, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by rmwun54
First I decided to build my own rims, which I read up and researched on. It was a lot of hit and miss at first. Then I decided that I was going to put together a bike from the frame up. My friends call me the bike Dr. now, sure why not.
So you became a surgeon before becoming a family practioner. Nothing wrong with that approach I guess. For most, wheel building is one of the last skills learned, aside from frame building. Everything else is pretty much basic, simple mechanics unless one happens to be all thumbs.
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Old 05-12-04, 10:32 AM
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Went into an LBS with an old Peugeot that needed fixing. They laughed at me, and tried to sell me a new bike. End of my relationship with LBS service department, start of me doing own work.
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Old 05-12-04, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by bicicletta
So, today was the day that I got intimate with my bike. I took off both tires and gave the entire thing a good cleaning. I checked the pressure in my tires, examined just how it is the gears move, that kind of thing. It seems two months is FAR too long to go without cleaning, especially when you live in one of the most polluted cities in the world...(I blame EVERYTHING on pollution...so it could just be normal grime for all I know). Anyway, I started having a look at all of the bells and whistles on my bike. The bike came directly from the Giant manufacturer in Taiwan and it doesn't have a "make". The frame is designed for tourering, with custom panniers and all and I've been told that the components are good.

hmmmm...I don't know. I know that the Rapid Suspension Technology has me baffled (so any advice tips on how often I have to put air into them would be great).

All right. I've vowed to learn how to repair what I might need to repair on a tour (due date: July 15th) and today was day one. It didn't go so hot. There was a lot of mystified pauses and head shaking. But as the bike sits, once again assembled, I feel like I learned a lot. However, I must have screwed SOMETHING up, as now my chain rubs the outside of my front derailleur (the fact that I just learned what a front derailleur is today should speak volumes). Tomorrow, it's into the bike shop for a tuning. Great, you might think....a good lesson to be had....but I live in Seoul, which means that my bike mechanic speaks Korean, making it hard from me to get much out of the explanation.
boo-hoo.
My question: it seems like there are many extremely knowledgable people on this forum, discussing things that involve a lot of lofty bike vocabulary. Did you just learn like me....a repair book and a lot of headshakes? Did you take a class? Should I attempt to fix my front derailleur myself (other posts indicated that I likely have to adjust the rear derailleur....) or take it into someone who knows what they're doing?
Inspiration would be great, as I sit with very dirty fingernails and I strong resolve to learn.
I'd start with the Barnett's manuals at the top of this Forum....very thorough, and you can download them for free. They are a great resource IMO. The chapter on adjusting the FD will explain how to check the cable tension and/or adjust the "H" screw to allow your cage to move out just enough to stop the rub. If you take time to read the explanations and follow the steps in order, I'll bet your be successful.

Second point I'd offer is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Many new components don't require routine lube or maintenance, and as a result aren't made to be taken apart. Apart from lubing the chain and filling the tires, there just isn't a lot to do, which is a good thing of course.

Curious as to where you ride in Seoul. The death-wish driving style would certainly keep me out of traffic on a bike....I thought it was pretty scary in a car.
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Old 05-13-04, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by HarryK
Curious as to where you ride in Seoul. The death-wish driving style would certainly keep me out of traffic on a bike....I thought it was pretty scary in a car.
To put it simply, riding in Seoul sucks. Not only is the traffic seriously scary (I got HIT this week by a moto bike rider who blew a pedestrian light!!! <me and bike are okay>), the pollution often makes me think it's detrimental to my health to go for a ride. I often come home with something I refer to as the "diesel headache". That being said, there's a bike path next to the Han River that runs all the way to the old Kimpo airport, so I hit that a few times a week. It's flat and BORING, but there are no cars and it is a good chance for me to work on my rpm and all of that other form stuff I don't know a lot about. Anyway, I miss fresh air. I'm going on a tour to Alaska this summer, so this is very comforting. I have this dream that the amazing quality of oxygen will let me just soar up mountains.

To answer another post, OB Lager is okay, but the new Hite Prime is the beer of choice in my book. Soju, however, will put a big crinkle in any training plans.
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Old 05-13-04, 04:11 PM
  #24  
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>Sounds like to me you are starting the right way. I'm not an expert, but I can do most adjustments and repairs you would pay a shop to do. I started by taking an OLD bike completely apart and putting it back together again. When I put it back together again, I adjusted things according to the directions in a book I got from the library. Later I took a wheel-building class at a local bike shop. Once or twice after making a crucial adjustment (say the headset tightness), I've brought it to a bike shop and just asked them to inspect it -- not to teach me, but just to assure me it was ok. Fortunately most of those LBS people were nice.

Learning to fix your own bike will make you a lot more confident when you're on your bike. And eventually, when the time comes to replace a wheel, I would definitely recommend making one of your own, hopefully in a class. That first wheel will be frustrating and expensive, but you'll end up with a sweet wheel, not to mention a new appreciation for the magically simple engineering of a bike.

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Old 05-13-04, 06:38 PM
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Hey I live in Busan and I bought a Giant mtb last summer. The people in my bike shop are really good. Luckily my wife helps me with the Koreans. I mostly ride offroad on a couple of different mountains here in Busan. Do you do any offroading? It sounds like you have a touring bike. Have a good time on your Alaska tour this summer. By the way where are you from?
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