One of my favorite things on rides with friends is coming to their rescue, fixing breakdowns and keeping everyone rolling – not standing by the side of the road waiting. All it takes to be a hero and repair most common breakdowns is a little bicycle mechanic know-how and carrying a bike mini-tool, plus a couple of small ride-savers that easily fit in a seat bag. In this Tech Talk, I describe what I carry, and how I handle two common issues I see over and over on group rides: large tire cuts and broken chains.
This week’s Tech Talk provides some basic wheel tips to help with this key bike-maintenance skill. Removing wheels is required to fix flat tires, put bicycles in small vehicles and trunks, makes it easier to clean a bike, and is step one of swapping out “training” wheels for your “race” wheels, too.
Last week we went over don’ts and do’s for bike washing. The final don’t was to not forget to relube after cleaning the bike. I said “be sure to lube the brake and derailleur pivots.” To this advice a reader named Michael wrote, “What type of lube do you recommend for the brake and derailleur pivots? I ride mostly dry pavement and use Pro Gold ProLink on my chain. Should I use the same stuff or a different type of lube?” That’s an excellent question.
Winter riding can wear and tear bicycles quickly because of the grit and crud that gets all over the frame and components. Also, excessive moisture can remove essential lube from the drivetrain, which accelerates chain, cassette, chainring, derailleur pulley and front derailleur cage wear, too. This is why it’s best to clean bikes immediately after inclement winter rides or at least before riding them again. Here’s a quick rundown of don’t and do’s for a good job (“don’ts” are first in the title because they’re the things that can cause bigger problems).
This week’s subject was suggested by a reader with the handle “SJ,” who asked, “How often should wheel hub bearings be degreased and re-greased?” It’s a great question because it’s tricky to evaluate the condition of wheel bearings and to know what to do about issues, too. Wheels can still seem to roll and spin perfectly fine even when there’s no grease in the bearings – or worse, the bearings are dry and binding so bad that you can barely turn the axle by hand when the wheel is off the bike.
A couple of weeks back, we were talking about washing bicycles after rainy rides. My advice was to remove the wheels to make the task of washing them easier. However, I didn’t provide complete instructions for cleaning wheels. Two thoughts made me decide to go into more detail today. First is the fact that wheels have become so much more expensive. So, sort of like wanting to keep the expensive custom rims you might have on your vehicle shiny, you might feel the same way about your bike’s hoops. And, second, there’s actually a lot to cleaning bicycle wheels.
If this week’s Tech Talk title caught your attention, it was supposed to. But I didn’t really make it up – I pretty much stole it. I paraphrased the title of the online Outside magazine article that ran recently, Why You Should Throw Your Rim Brakes in the Trash. The author basically says that discs on road bikes are so much better than rim brakes that you... well, you already know what he wants you to do with your rim brakes.
The great comments on last week’s Basic Clipless Pedals Care story (which are featured in today's Quick Tips), got me thinking of even more tips for pedals this week – especially since not everyone uses clipless pedals. So here are some other things that will come in handy the next time you do any pedal work.
Thanks for the tips and humorous comments about my Tech Talk column last week on fixing tired shoes. (Rest assured that those gnarly old S-Works shoes shown in the photos aren’t my only pair – they were just the perfect examples with lots of problems to explain how to fix. I especially wanted to show the frayed Boa closure.) This week, as a follow-up, let’s look at the other half of the system, clipless pedals. They’re what lock the shoes in place and ensure an efficient pedal stroke. Here are basic tips for inspecting pedals for problems and caring for them.
Last week’s Question of the Week, “Do you do regular maintenance to your bike(s) this time of year?” coincided with some repairs I needed to do. They aren’t on my bicycle, though. They’re on my circa 2008 Specialized S-Works shoes. It got me thinking that the off-season is a great time to catch up on maintenance like this that is super important for riding, yet easily forgotten or ignored since it’s not specifically on the bike. When planning your pre-season mechanical schedule, be sure to include everything related to your cycling.
In last week’s Tech Talk, I provided five tips for winterizing your bicycle. Perhaps because you’re in the holiday gift-giving mode, six of you then chimed in adding your valuable tips. Thanks for sharing your expertise. Let’s look at your recommendations and I’ll add a few related winterizing stories and tips.