Bike Physiology: Understanding How Your Bike Works

In This Chapter

^ Identifying the different parts of a bike ^ Understanding the role bearings play in reducing friction ^ Uncovering the importance of threads and how to protect them ^ Discovering how cables control the bike

^ Exploring how gears work and the supporting role of the derailleurs ^ Finding out about quick-release hubs ^ Identifying other bike parts

Я n this chapter, we lay the foundation for all the bike repair and mainte­nance procedures that follow in this book. If you understand this chapter, not only will you be able to impress your buddies and the local bike-shop staff with your newly gleaned knowledge, but you’ll have greater insight into the inner workings of a bike, which is invaluable when you sit down, tool in hand, and begin to work on it.

If you really want to become self-sufficient in bike repair and maintenance, it’s not enough to know how to perform certain procedures. You need to have an understanding of the inner workings of a bike. Think of it this way: Cardiologists haven’t just studied the heart — they’ve learned how the entire body works. After all, the body is a complex set of interacting systems. To operate on the heart, a doctor has to understand interactions between the heart and the circulatory, nervous, and other systems.

Now, we’re not saying that a bike is remotely comparable to a body in terms of complexity, but it does contain its own systems. If you understand how gears work, how bearings reduce friction, and how cables transfer power to breaks and derailleurs, you won’t just be a certifiable bike geek — you’ll have greater insight into how to maintain and repair your bike properly. If you have to change a cable, you’ll have more confidence performing the job if you understand how that cable interacts with the shifters, brake levers, derail­leurs and brakes than if you see it in isolation. Awareness of how your bike functions may also serve you well when you’re broken down on the side of the road and trying to diagnose a problem or improvise a solution.

Although the bike is a mystery to many people, much of its technology and mechanics were engineered in the last century. Unlike your iPod, which will probably be outdated in six months, your trusty bike can last years and years and still perform as well as newer models. If you take care of your bike, you should be able to have many, many years together. But as with any relation­ship, it takes hard work and effort. Take the time to learn a little bit about how your bike works, and you’ll be rewarded with many years of enjoyable time together.