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Thorough ways to learn bicycle maintenance?

Old 09-06-17, 06:32 PM
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FrontShocks
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Thorough ways to learn bicycle maintenance?

Any tips for a novice bicycle mechanic? Anything helps. Literally, even basic stuff.
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Old 09-06-17, 06:52 PM
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sweeks
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I've learned a lot from Sheldon Brown's site (https://www.sheldonbrown.com/), and the Park Tool repair help site (https://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help/). Also from some of the folks here on BF.
Steve

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Old 09-06-17, 06:58 PM
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Sheldon Brown's site is great, but I learned by doing. Bicycles are not that complicated. I learned how to take care of my bike as a kid, and when I bought my first 10 speed bike as an adult, I took it apart multiple times to try to make it work better. If you want to learn, buy a $25 garage sale bike and tear it down, then try to build it back up
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Old 09-06-17, 06:58 PM
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Youtube vids on what you're trying to do.

I wish there were vids when I learned most of what of what I know, but Al Gore hadn't invented the internet yet.
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Old 09-06-17, 07:10 PM
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Youtube and practice. I taught myself; you can, too. I can do anything but wheels.
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Old 09-06-17, 07:42 PM
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It is much easier to learn how to work on bikes when one already has basic mechanical skills such has how to use tools properly, torque and lubrication basics.

Basic mechanical skills transfer from discipline to discipline and can be acquired in many different ways.

Learn to work on cars, washing machines or anything you can get your hands on.

Hang out with friends who work on stuff such as motorcycles or lawnmowers.

Any experience at all is valuable.


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Old 09-06-17, 08:15 PM
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I would suggest buying a cheap, cheap bike to practice on, instead of your good ride, especially if you have only one bike you rely on for transportation.
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Old 09-06-17, 08:19 PM
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I took a class that a local university put on in their "community courses" section ... and then I took another class that MEC (Mountain Equipment Coop) put on.

Cycling clubs and bicycle shops sometimes put on courses as well.
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Old 09-06-17, 09:27 PM
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Youtube, practice, and hang out at the FLBS a lot.
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Old 09-06-17, 09:42 PM
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go to local library and check out Zinn's Maintenance book (road or MTB depending on what you have).
And what was said above.
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Old 09-06-17, 09:54 PM
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Volunteer at bike co-op of there is one near you. I learned lots about basic maintenance and would like to go back and volunteer/learn more but the co-op is quite a drive from me. One day...
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Old 09-06-17, 10:11 PM
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Tom Cuthbertson's "Any Body's Bike Book" is a wealth of information.
Jon
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Old 09-06-17, 10:16 PM
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This forum, Sheldon Brown, YouTube, and the best is hands-on.
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Old 09-06-17, 10:25 PM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by Jon T View Post
Tom Cuthbertson's "Any Body's Bike Book" is a wealth of information.
Jon
I still have both his books. I did not know he was a local until it was too late.
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Old 09-06-17, 10:46 PM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
I still have both his books. I did not know he was a local until it was too late.
I have his original book that came out in '71 or 2. I didn't know he wrote a second book. Is it worth getting as well?
Jon
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Old 09-07-17, 03:23 AM
  #16  
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I started when I was 10 or 11 by getting into my grandfather's tool box, and using his tools to take apart my bike. Luckily he was around to help me put it back together. He taught me how to oil the chain, to patch a tube (he would never spend money for new tube), and make sure that the bar, seat post, and stem were tight.

Bike mechanics is not rocket science, cooking is a much harder skill to acquire. Bikes and other machines are all "nuts and bolts", when you take something off, put it back where you found it. They are a puzzle of parts which simply go in a particular place in a particular order. If you like puzzles, mechanics is going to be easy.

In my early teens I was already doing long endurance rides, and doing light modifications on my bike. But then I became interested in cars, took auto shop classes in high school, and earned extra money by buying old muscle cars, cleaning them up, and reselling them. I spent a summer as an apprentice working in an auto repair shop, though I found the work dirty and difficult. But I never lost my love of cycling and bicycles. Between high school and university I got a job as a mechanic at a well known bike shop in southern California (despite having no experience at all as a bicycle mechanic). The hours were long, and the pay was awful (you have many more opportunities for career advancement and higher wages at McDonald's), but I got a discount on parts and accessories, and was able to put together a nice bike.

Bicycle mechanics is not difficult, even the newest and most complex bicycles are not far removed from a kid's bike. You can learn all you need to do to perform every repair necessary (short of welding) within a few months. There isn't much I can't do when it comes to bicycle repair, I can build a wheel, I have welded broken dropouts with a car battery and jumper cables.

Spend some time looking at how the bike is put together, noting the hardware which holds it together. Operate the levers, and watch how they move the brakes and derailleurs. Once you understand what everything does, and how it works, you can more easily diagnose problems. When you diagnose a problem, you can probably figure out what is necessary to perform the repair. Doing it right may not be easy the first time, but the best way to learn is by doing.

If you are thinking of becoming a professional bike mechanic, don't bother. Even pro mechanics working for the top European teams are poorly paid. Go to school (or stay in school) and learn something more useful. Minimum wage is fine for part time work when you are a student, but not something you want to be doing for years in the back of a bike shop.
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Old 09-07-17, 05:14 AM
  #17  
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YouTube is really poor advice these days for the simple reason that anyone, regardless of competence, can put up a video and there is too much conflicting, confusing and just plain incorrect information among the good advice - I know how to fix bikes so I can pick the difference, for someone learning, stay away from YouTube.

When learning, it's best to use a single source because multiple sources just leads to confusion.

As suggested above, Park Tools are probably the best internet source, mainly because their advice is sound and they cover just about everything.

Once you've got some experience, then you can go playing the YouTube game, if only to laugh at some of the inane advice (though you do learn some good stuff to from time to time).

The other thing to remember is that bikes are pretty basic and forgiving beasts and there's not a lot you can stuff up so badly a bike shop won't be able to unstuff it for you. Best to learn on a cheap bike though.
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Old 09-07-17, 05:25 AM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by Jon T View Post
Tom Cuthbertson's "Any Body's Bike Book" is a wealth of information.
Jon
That's how I learned. I loved that book. Is it still available in print?

I think that Leonard Zinn's "Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance" has a lot of the same charm.
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Old 09-07-17, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Jon T View Post
I have his original book that came out in '71 or 2. I didn't know he wrote a second book. Is it worth getting as well?
Jon
It's called "Bike Tripping" and is definitely entertaining. I doubt you will learn much that is new.
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Old 09-07-17, 07:16 AM
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I learned from Richard's Bicycle Book back in the 70s... then trained myself over the years as need be. Sheldon Brown's wheelbuilding tutorial is excellent, though possibly a bit beyond where the OP wants to be just now.
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Old 09-07-17, 07:21 AM
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Go to the thrift shop, buy a bike, and learn on that. As others have mentioned, Sheldon Brown and Park Tools websites are invaluable. Strip the thing down til there is nothing on it, clean it up, and put it back together. You'll learn most everything you'll need to do doing that.

If you are even the slightest bit mechanically inclined, bikes are easy. Not much to learn on them, other than which parts are opposite threaded.

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Old 09-07-17, 07:32 AM
  #22  
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Yeah, just do it. Classes, books, videos are all good. In the end you remember what you do with your hands the best.
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Old 09-07-17, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
That's how I learned. I loved that book. Is it still available in print?

I think that Leonard Zinn's "Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance" has a lot of the same charm.
It's available on Amazon.
Jon
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Old 09-07-17, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by FrontShocks View Post
Any tips for a novice bicycle mechanic? Anything helps. Literally, even basic stuff.
There's Barnett's in your backyard. But they might be a bit steep.

Something that no one has mentioned yet is the Park Tools Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair. It's a good source and not terribly expensive. It's also up to date. Park offers much the same advice on their bicycle repair pages but you don't need batteries nor a wifi connection with the book. The book...and lots of practice...will go a long way.

I don't find any co-ops in Colorado Springs but Bikes Together in Denver offers a soup to almost nuts master mechanics class. It's a 6 week class that meets once a week in the evenings and costs $250 for the class. I know that's a lot of driving but you would learn a lot.

On the other hand, you can learn a whole lot by just doing. The difference between a novice mechanic and a master mechanic is just the value of parts that they've ruined
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Old 09-07-17, 09:14 AM
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People have pointed you to the resources, so I won't repeat them except to say Park Tool and Sheldon Brown.

As for tips, I found that it helps to really think about how the parts of the bike work.

When I was a kid/teenager, bikes were still basically "black box" to me even though all the pieces were right there out in the open.

In other words, I knew how to make the controls do stuff, but I didn't know how they worked.

For example: Pull this lever to move the chain to an easier gear.

Later, I realized the chain is guided by the derailleur, which is basically powered by a spring. If left alone, the spring pulls it to a default position (smallest cog/ring). What happens when you shift is that a cable pulls against the power of the spring--and then friction (or a ratchet) holds the cable/derailleur in position Y or Z or whatever.

Once I understood that, then the adjustments began made sense. H-screw so that the spring doesn't pull the chain into the frame. L-screw so that you don't pull the cable so far that the chain goes into the spokes. (It actually helped to figure it out for myself, instead of just being told "what to do".)

Not all of the "systems" on a bike work the same way as the drivetrain, but there aren't many other systems. (Brakes? Steering? Suspension?)

And there's not a lot of extraneous stuff on a bike. Every part does something/has a purpose. It takes a little thinking to figure out what the part does, but like everyone else has said, it's not rocket science.

You could get a beater to experiment on, but I wouldn't go too old (replacement parts can be hard to find) or too different (like, learning how to fix a fixie will only help you with so much on your hardtail with multiple gears). On the other hand, if you can't get it working, you won't be out a bike to use.
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