If you’re lucky, you’ll never have to repair your bike anywhere but in the comfort of your own shop at home. But nobody’s that lucky. The fact is, if you ride long enough, sooner or later you’re going to break down on the side of the road and have to make a repair, like one of the following:
✓ Fixing a flat tire: A flat tire is the most basic of emergency repairs (see Chapter 6).
Practice patching a tire before you have to — that way, if you get a flat on the road, you’ll be able to fix it without stressing out.
✓ Dealing with your wheels: If you hit something with your wheel, the rim may bend or a spoke may break. You can repair both issues on the side of the road, depending on the severity of the damage (see Chapter 7).
✓ Coping with the chain: Your chain may act up on you while you ride.
In some cases, a chain may jump off the smallest chainring and become jammed between the chain stay and the chainring. Worse, the chain may even break. To fix the chain, you’ll need to have a chain tool and an extra link or two available, or else you’ll be walking home (see Chapter 10).
✓ Dealing with the derailleur: The fact that derailleurs stick off the side of your bike make them vulnerable to being hit or knocked as you ride, which may bend or damage them. Depending on the situation, you may need to adjust the derailleur, reposition it, or remove it (see Chapter 14).
Some repairs you won’t be able to make when you’re on the road — mainly because specialized tools are needed. These include a loose crank, loose pedals, problems with the bottom bracket, or a bent frame. If any of these happens while you’re on the road, your best bet is to call it a day, because riding could cause greater damage to your bike or lead to an accident.
Emergency repairs are the ones no one wants to deal with. Much more preferable are all the repairs you can do in your shop at home. Some of these repairs are simpler to perform than others. If you’re new to bike maintenance and repair, try these basic repairs before attempting the more advanced ones:
✓ Repair flat tires. Flat tires are the main source of problems with tires and tubes, and you’ll have to learn how to remove a tire, find the puncture in the tube, patch the leak, and reinstall it. After you’ve done it a few times, it’s pretty easy. (See Chapter 6.)
✓ Overhaul hubs. Central to maintaining your wheels in good working order is caring for the hubs. Overhauling them at least once a year will keep your wheels spinning smoothly. (See Chapter 7.)
✓ Change brake pads. Few things are more important than being able to stop on your bike when you need to. Learn how to adjust your brakes and changes the pads, and you’ll be in good shape. (See Chapter 8.)
✓ Adjust saddles and seat-post position: This is where you can make adjustments that your butt will thank you for. Choosing the right saddle and then adjusting it to the right fit will make riding a more enjoyable and comfortable experience. (See Chapter 9.)
✓ Replace chain. The hard-working chain is one of the most exposed parts of your bike and, as a result, it needs a lot of care. After it has given you a few thousand miles, you’ll need to replace it. (See Chapter 10.)
✓ Replace cassettes and freewheels. Over time, the teeth on the cogs of cassettes and freewheels will wear out causing your chain to skip gears. With a couple of tools and a little bit of effort, you can replace them yourself. (See Chapter 11.)
In reality, advanced repairs are not that advanced — they’re just a little more complicated than basic repairs. In some cases, you’ll need a specialized tool or two and you’ll have to be careful to follow the directions step by step.
With a little concentration and determination, you too can be a hard-core grease monkey who knows how to handle just about any repair on your bike, including the following:
✓ Maintain the suspension. Although you’ll be limited to the kind of frame repairs you can perform, you can handle the maintenance and repair of suspension. In some cases, you’ll need to make an oil change or adjust the air pressure depending on what type of suspension you have. (See Chapter 12.)
✓ Overhaul the pedals, crankarms, and bottom bracket. The pedal, cran — karms, and bottom bracket are part of the drivetrain of your bike and work to transfer force to the rear wheel. They absorb a lot of force and should be overhauled every year. You’ll need one or more specialized tools for this job. (See Chapter 13.)
✓ Adjust the shifting system. Most modern-day shifters are highly calibrated mechanisms that only require minor adjustments and maintenance. Most of your work supporting the shifting system will come from keeping the rear and front derailleurs in good working order. (See Chapter 14.)
✓ Overhaul the steering system. Handlebars, stem, and headset give you the smooth steering you expect of your bike. The bearings inside the headset take a pounding from the road so do this component a favor and adjust it frequently and overhaul it annually. (See Chapter 15.)
Even the most gung-ho grease monkeys should take some of the most difficult procedures to the pros at their local bike shop. Your local bike shop will have the expensive tools and, more important, the experience to handle these procedures properly. The following repairs should all be handled by a pro:
✓ Repairing frames: Frame repair is beyond the scope of what most people can accomplish at home. Some bike shops even recommend that you go to a frame specialist for many jobs or replace the frame altogether.
✓ Fitting a headset: Adjusting or overhauling a headset is an easy job that you can perform at home or on the road. But when you’re installing a new headset, it’s time to head to your local bike shop to leverage their experience and specialized tools.
✓ Truing a wheel: Truing is complicated stuff. You need specialized tools (such as a truing stand, a spoke tension meter, and a dishing tool) and a lot of practice.
✓ Working on suspension: There are many different types of front and rear suspension and all repair work on them should be done either by the manufacturer, your local bicycle store, or a specialty bicycle suspension repair facility.