Atlanta Bike Tech: Bike Repair
Bike repair is no different from car repair in that it must be done on a regular basis to keep the bike. If a car needs regular oil changes, spark plug changes, and has filters that need to be replaced regularly, then the bicycle is no different. In fact, regular maintenance on a bicycle isn’t just good to keep your wheels turning, but it could save you from injuries and even death. Inevitably there are always regular repairs needed on bicycles, whether a new tube is needed or replacement of a brake line cable that fails.
What is important isn’t the tools you have to make the repairs, the types of gears which need to be replaced, or the brand of the equipment you are using in the repairs. The most important thing is how well you install these parts. As a rider, I cannot tell you how important it is, for an example, to keep the front wheel on your fork blades tightened or you can lose a wheel… while you are riding.
With bike repair it is important to look at where the “rubber meets the road”: the wheels. Typically you will need to remove the front wheels if something has gone wrong, such as a flat tire or a tire that is worn out. The best tool for this job is a small adjustable wrench with a long handle. I you have an old model bicycle you will need two adjustable wrenches, one for each side of the bolt holding the front wheel.
After removing the front wheel you will need to carefully remove the tire from the wheel hub by running a screwdriver along the edge, with the tire over the head of the screwdriver. Remove and dispose of the old tube, and position a partially inflated new tube over the wheel hub and place the new or used tire over the tube. You can use either tire levelers or a screw driver to help stretch the tire in place inside the wheel hub. After this, check for any spots on the hub if the tire and tube is in place, and then inflate the tire fully.
Once inflated, you can re-attach the tire, tightening the bolts firmly with your adjustable wrench(s). Note: most new model bicycles use quick release levers to attach wheels to the front of a bike; in this case you treat these as you would a bolt with nuts, making sure to secure the lever before riding. And always keep your tires inflated to the maximum level indicated on the side of a tire (typically measured in PSI), and make sure all your spokes are tightened like a guitar string- never loose.
It is also vital to keep tools on your bike, perhaps in a small pouch attached to the frame of your bicycle. In this bag, you should always have wrenches, a compact tire pump, a spoke wrench, and lubricant oil like WD40. Before you ride ever, make sure all spokes are tightened, all parts are oiled properly, and that both tires are inflated to the proper levels.
A small Phillips-head screwdriver is also necessary to keep reflectors secure, to replace certain brake cables, and to help pry off tires and/or tubes. Bike repair isn’t difficult, so there is no excuse to not take it seriously- your life may depend on it.
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