Do Cyclists Really Need To Know How to Fix a Bicycle?

I have always been one who liked to control my destiny as much as I could (in other words, if I could control it then I felt I should). This issue recently came up in a discussion with a friend in regards to bike maintenance and in particular, how to fix a bicycle.

My way of thinking is that anyone who rides a bike should know the bare minimum about some of the common problems that you might encounter and their associated repairs that typically happen while out riding on the road (or trail).

My friend, on the other hand, loves to ride his bike but literally knows nothing about how to fix it. If he ever got a flat tire while riding, plain and simple, he is now walking (and it has happened).

I scratch my head on this way of thinking because learning how to fix a bicycle is really not hard. I can say it another way using the pain versus gain analogy. In my opinion, there is more pain associated with having a break down while out riding then there is to spending the small amount of time to learn how to overcome minor problems while out on the road.

Am I wrong?

What Are the Basics When Learning How to Fix a Bicycle?

I recently read an article about just this idea. The article simply entitled Bicycle Maintenance describes some of the basic things that you should know about to overcome the inevitable breakdown while out riding. Read that last sentence again and emphasize the word “inevitable”. I also talks about some preventative tips that could save you time and money as well.

The skills that are crucial fall into 2 categories:

  1. Bike Maintenance
  2. Bike Repairs

Bike Maintenance Skills

Bike maintenance skills would include those practices that slow down the wear and tear on your bicycle as well as allowing you to find problems while they are small (before they become large and aggravating).

Practices such as:

  1. Cleaning and lubricating your bike chain
  2. Inspecting your bike before and after a ride
  3. Properly inflating your tires to their correct pressures

Keeping your chain clean and lubricated is going to do quite a few things. A clean chain slows down the wearing of your chain rings (front of bike) and your cassette teeth (rear of bike). It also helps your chain last a lot longer too. A minor amount of time invested up front can save you money in the long run (chain rings and cassettes are not cheap).

Some repairs could have been avoided had you been able to detect that there was a potential problem before you started out on your ride. A loose or broken spoke is easily identifiable but can also yield some nasty consequences if not found before riding. Can you say “wheel collapse”?

How to Fix a Bicycle

Keeping your tires properly inflated will not only allow the tire to roll more smoothly and efficiently, but it can also help you avoid a flat tire. An under inflated tire raises your chances of “flatting” significantly since the low pressure tire has a much higher change of pinching your inner tube and creating a hole. Keep your tire pressures pumped up to the levels that are indicated on the sidewalls of your bike tires.

Bike Repair Skills

Let’s move on to skills that may be called into action while out riding. The most obvious one would be to fix or change a flat tire. A basic skill for a cyclist involves being able to remove the wheel, tire and inner tube from their bike in order to change or patch the inner tube.

The article How to Fix a Flat Tire shows you how simple it really is.

I do know of a few individuals that have got off lucky (and haven’t got a flat tire yet) but in my opinion it isn’t worth the risk. Always carry a spare tube, a small pump and some tire levers just in case (you just never know when they might just save the day).

Ever been riding and have your bike chain slip off the rings? There is an easy way to fix this problem and there is a hard way to fix this (which also involves lots of grease on your hands). There is a quick and easy method that will allow you to be able to get your chain back on without even having to stop and without having to touch your greasy chain.

Read the article How to Get Your Chain Back On Again and see how.

While you may have other problems that creep up on you while out riding, the ones listed above are by far the ones that tend to be the most common. Spend a small amount of time learning how to overcome these challenges and you will spend much more time actually riding your bike instead of pushing it up the road.

Should You Know How to Fix a Bicycle?

Well, I hope that I have convinced you that a minor amount of your limited time is all that is required for you to be able to get up to speed on how to fix a bicycle and get it road or trail worthy once again. Believe me, that once you do figure this stuff out, you will wonder to yourself and ask the question as to why you never did this a long time ago. Now get on out there and go for a spin.

Ride hard but safely!

Robert Flaherty

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