On Your Bike Maintenance course

5 04 2010


I know a few things about fixing bikes.. I know how to change a tyre and brake pads. But to me bikes are a bit like maths, I learnt all I’ll ever functionally need to know in primary school,  I don’t need algebra to live my day to day! However with the big cycle looming Liz convinced me we’d better get a bit of long division under our belts.

Liz had heard of the Southwark Cyclists course at On Your Bike in London Bridge – we knew the shop, we’d heard it was good, so off we went. Every Tuesday evening, for 4 weeks, we pitched up ready to tinker.

There were 9 others on the course and 2 instructors (3 really but 2 on an evening by evening ratio). I know that some long distance cyclists are super bike whizzes and some neither know nor care how to change a tyre (there are plenty of bike shops in the big wide world!). Thus, for us, the aim wasn’t to become bike mechanics but to gain a bit more confidence and loose a bit of the fear.

Interestingly I loved it, Liz tolerated it. I think I’ve a bit more patience for tinkering than she has.  But between us we covered everything- It really was a super course and the instructors were lovely (as well as highly knowledgeable), however, the key things we (shakily) learnt were:

  1. We can’t fix everything ourselves because we can’t carry all the necessary tools. But the more you know the less likely it will be that you get diddled.
  2. Cleaning the wheel rim, chain, and cassette cogs on a weekly basis are the keys to long kit life.
  3. If a spoke breaks, open the breaks and ride (if possible) to the nearest bike shop (KNOW WHERE THEY ARE ALONG THE ROUTE). Carry a spare spoke to give to the bike mechanic.
  4. Check for chain stretch every so often (max every 3000KM’s) – if you think things are loose then take it into a shop and ask them to measure it for you. If it’s getting too loose change the chain and expect some slippage for the first week or so. If it is really bad then change the chain and rear gear cassette. If you change the chain before it has gone over the edge you can extend the life of the rear gear cassette.
  5. It is important that you have used the tools you are planning to take with you – a multi-set may not be the most useful thing.
  6. When you have oiled the chain wipe the excess oil off the outside so that dust etc doesn’t stick to it.
  7. Tyres have a direction arrow!

🙂 …

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