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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I am a new to road biking, and I thought it would be helpful for myself and many other newbies if experienced bikers here could give us some tips for basic maintenance to keep bikes in the top working condition.

Perhaps even experts could pick up a new tip here or there.

A little about myself, I have an 06 Specialized Allez. I used to bike on dirt trails before, and I wasn't sure I would really like this road bike stuff. So I just bought a low end bike, and now I am hooked. I spend a lot of time pondering how I might be able to improve my bike. But advices from people seem unanimous - ride the Allez until it gets old, and just get a new higher end bike.

Fair enough, I am just gonna ride this one and enjoy the ride until it gets old and I have enough saving to get a Tarmac.

I am a do-it-yourself kind, and I really would like to learn to maintain my own bike. So let's get this forum running.

Please post some maintanence tips, (detailed instructions and some basic tools that might be worth investing for the newbies)

Thanks a lot!

S.
 

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Buy a book

courtyard said:
I am a new to road biking, and I thought it would be helpful for myself and many other newbies if experienced bikers here could give us some tips for basic maintenance to keep bikes in the top working condition.

Please post some maintanence tips, (detailed instructions and some basic tools that might be worth investing for the newbies)
You're basically asking people to recreate, with their posts, a book like "Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance." Your better option would be to buy such a book.
 

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2 options.....

1) The owners manual that came with your bike is well worth reading and will get you off to a good start.

2) Every time your bike needs service take it into the shop where you bought it and have them service it under the 1 year adjustment policy they gave you with the bike. When the year is up buy a new bike.
 

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Kerry Irons said:
You're basically asking people to recreate, with their posts, a book like "Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance." Your better option would be to buy such a book.
Parktool.com has free and detailed instructions as well, though they may be a bit too techie for some.

Silas
 

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MB1 said:
1) The owners manual that came with your bike is well worth reading and will get you off to a good start.

2) Every time your bike needs service take it into the shop where you bought it and have them service it under the 1 year adjustment policy they gave you with the bike. When the year is up buy a new bike.
Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha... those CPSC required stickers on the fork offer great advice too..

http://www.parktool.com (great pictures, very step by step)

http://www.sheldonbrown.com (for advanced stuff and fun reading)

http://forums.mtbr.com/forumdisplay.php?f=56 (where people that really know how to work on bikes hang out and talk

Zinn books are great too and well worth the money.

Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hi,

Thanks for the reply.
I just checked out parktool.com and it was very informative.

Only thing is, I don't think i am at the level of building a bike yet. I just wanted to get some
advice on what are some simple weekly maintanence work I should do to keep my bike running at optimal condition.

For example, my chain gets pretty dirty, but I don't think I know how to clean them correctly. Simple things like that that novice like I could do to keep the bike running smooth and like new. (until it breaks down).

Keep the advice coming.
And thanks in advance!
 

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I clean my chain with a parktool chain cleaner that mounts on the chain and you turn the cranks to work the chain through the internal brushes. I put mineral spirits in the chain cleaner thing. I lube my chain every couple days. I use a mix of 1 part oil 4 parts mineral spirits. apply the lube let it sit for a bit or overnight, then wipe clean. If you use to much oil and dont clean it off you'll attract alot of dirt.

I clean my cassette by working an old shirt through the cogs, and I wipe down the chain ring teeth.

Just remember, DIRT IS BAD
 

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The first thing I do with EVERY bike I own is toss on a SRAM Power Link or install a SRAM chain that already comes with a Power Link (if I'm building a new bike or replacing an old chain). I've used Power Links w/Shimano chains and never had a problem. The beauty of a Power Link is the quick & easy removal of your chain so you can clean it & lube it easier. I use Power Links on all my bikes - my mountain bikes and my road bikes. Just make sure you use a 9 speed power link on a 9 speed chain & so forth. I clean my chains by dropping them in a large, clean peanut butter jar filled 1/2 way with orange degreaser (not diluted). Swish it around, then some more, then again. I keep a long 2 by 4 handy for the next part: put the chain on the 2x4 and using a brush, scrub it clean, rinse w/hose - repeat if necessary. Let the chain dry in the sun (after shaking out as much water as possible) then put a drop of bike specific chain lube on each roller. Slap the chain so the lube gets worked into the rollers - wipe off any excess chain lube - install the chain on the bike & go riding.

I would suggest a book as well - I'm not terribly fond of the Zinn MTB maintenance book (I own that one) - but certainly obtaining a great book would be useful, IMO.

Also, if you don't have a bike stand, I'd highly recommend getting one. Don't even think about making one yourself. Lightbulbs and bike stands should be purchased from the manufacturer - both are poor candidates for the do-it-yourselfers.

I like to hang my bikes upside down in the basement using those "all purpose hooks" that are inexpensive but very effective. I glued pieces of foam to the hooks - probably isn't necessary, but makes me think my rims aren't going to be damaged from the hooks if I use foam between the rubber-coated hook and my rim. These things install very quickly also.

I like bike-specific tools - I own Park tools, but I've heard some others are equally good - Pedro's ?

I don't get along well with videos - CD's, DVD's, et cetera. I'm a sort of computer geek, but there's just no substitute for a well written & illustrated book.

Others have posted some great links.

Here are a few recommendations - you may never need these - I've done all of these with success, but usually wished afterward that I'd had my fantastic LBS bike mechanic done them instead:

1 - have a bike mechanic install your headset
2 - have a bike mechanic install your BB
3 - have a bike mechanic install your fork (cutting the steering tube, using the right spacers and installing the star nut - ugggh!)
4 - have a bike mechanic build your wheels (keeping rims true isn't really difficult)

Always ride with a spare tube, tire tools, useful pump and multi-tool. This is a bare minimum - it's not if you're gonna need this stuff someday - it's a matter of when.

When changing a flat, try to determine the reason for the flat. If you suspect the flat might have been caused by a small sharp object puncturing the tire, CAREFULLY feel inside the tire for the object and then remove it before installing the new tube (or installing the patched tube).

Happy riding - and maintaining,

Steel_SSer
:)
 

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Listen to SteelSSer

This dude gave some very good advice... which I would expect from a steel afficianado and single speeder..
On the topic of the SRAM chains, another usefull thing to do is to carry a spare powerlink with you. I haven't had it happen on the road yet, but while MTBing I've had a chain break/had to break it myself to bypass a derailler and popping on a powerlink is far easy while out riding than using a chain tool to push a pin back in. Especially with the newer Shimano propietary replacement pins that cost about $5a pop.

Also if your not into taking your chain off to clean it (sometimes I do it one way, sometimes the other way), I recommend the newer design of the Finish Line chain cleaner (the one with a locking top and handle). A little citrus solvent (buy as much of this stuff as possible, its so infinetley usefull) and some water, run the chain through, dry it, wait a few hours to let it air dry (overnight maybe) and lube as usual. This is going to sound like a shill post (its not), but I like Finish Line Lubes too. Any good bike specific lube will do the trick though. Just make sure the chain is dry before you lube it and make sure that you hit every link and give the lube some penetration time before riding.

Mainly just get to know your bike and how it works, if something doesn't seem right, it probably isn't. If you can't fix it yourself, go to your LBS.
 

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Chain maintenance

courtyard said:
For example, my chain gets pretty dirty, but I don't think I know how to clean them correctly.
There's no need to clean your chain. Many people here like ProLink or the so-called Home Brew chain lube. Use the following technique for successful ProLink or homebrew lube (1 part motor oil to 3-4 parts odorless mineral spirits) application and use:

1 - wipe the chain, cogs, pulleys, and chainrings clean with a rag.
2 - drip on lube while pedaling (forward is better) so that the chain just starts to drip lube. Aim the lube between the side plates and between the bushings and the side plates.
3 - run through all the gears several times, front and back.
4 - wipe the chain, cogs, pulleys, and chainrings clean with a rag.
5 - repeat steps 2-4 if the chain was really dirty

If you do this every 300 miles or so (or when you get caught in the rain), you will not get any significant gunky buildup, and you won't have to clean the chain.

No lube is "perfect." A brite shiny chain that is clean to the touch but is well lubed and gives long mileage is still not possible. IMO, ProLink is the best compromise.
 

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Here are the Top 10 things that I think customers should know when they come into my shop:

10. How to fix (and patch) a flat. This includes wheel removal, brake disengagement, and proper QR operation.

9. How to check and adjust a loose threadless headset.

8. How to make minor adjustments to the rear derailleur. A typical adjustment is a 1/4 turn of the barrel on the rear derailleur body. Takes me 30 seconds. Costs you $10. You do the math.

7. Chains wear out. Every cyclist should own and use a Park chain checker. 1/2 the bikes through my door have worn out chains. 1/2 of those have trashed cassettes, too. At my shop, we replace our chain gauges once every couple months, since they wear out with how much we use them. For the home mechanic, they last forever and they'll save you a bundle on a wasted drivetrain.

6. Lube your chain correctly. This is covered at length all over. Wipe off the excess!

5. Know how to check for play in the hub and bottom bracket bearings. Adjusting these take special tools, but being able to check them is simple and will save you $$$.

4. Run correct air pressure and check it before every ride. If you don't own a floor pump with a gauge, you simply aren't serious about taking care of your expensive bike. You cannot tell the difference between 100 and 125 psi by feel. I do it every day, and if I can't - neither can you. Tubes bleed off air pressure, so its not out of the ordinary for a tire to drop from 125 to 115 overnight. Also, know how to correctly use your frame pump without bending or breaking a valve stem.

3. Tools. Buy good ones. Have a good set of metric allen wrenches. I have a fully equipped shop at my house, but the vast majority of those tools don't see as much use as my 4, 5, and 6 mm wrenches.

2. Brake pads. Before every ride, one thing which should be checked religiously is your brake pad adjustment. If they aren't landing correctly on the braking surface, they will wear poorly and give worse braking performance. Not good. Ask your LBS how to inspect the pad adjustment and when it doesn't look right, bring it in. New brake pads will run you $25 to replace (including labor). Checking to make sure that they are adjusted correctly ensures that they will last the 5,000 miles or more that they should.

....and the number one thing that I wish customers knew is...

1. If you aren't sure that you know what you are doing, bring it in. A job that you start but make a mistake on will take me twice as long and cost you twice as much. This also includes handlebar wrapping. Once you've wrapped a few hundred bars, then you can make it look like mine and last 5,000 miles. Until then, it'll just cost you more and last a month or two before it unravels. Mechanics work on bikes all day long - it's what we do. Some jobs simply take more experience than most home mechanics have. If you don't have it, there's no shame in paying someone else to do it for you.

All joking aside, knowing these things and how to do them will make your life as a cyclist much more enjoyable and save you money and time in the long run. Eventually, you will need to take your bike to a mechanic. Patronize one shop (and one solid mechanic, if you can) exclusively and be generous - someone that can afford a Colnago C50 draped in Record, can afford to buy the LBS service department a six-pack of Newcastle. Believe me - it will not go unnoticed.

Hope this was helpful - come ask questions anytime!
 

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So let me get this straight; someone new to a product just dropped $1-2,000 on a new piece of equipment that they know very little about.

And you don't think they should read the owners manual or take advantage of the free services their dealer offers?

BTW the owners manuals and Shimano parts instruction sheets that are included with the bikes we sell offer very detailed setup and adjustment information as well as a lot of general tips that are a really good start for a new owner. They are included with the purchase of every new bicycle at no additional cost.

Sure, throw the owners manual away then spend $20 for a book that won't have as detailed and specific information and instructions for your bike. Then don't take that bike back to the store for free servicing till it falls apart and needs repairs that you are likely going to have to pay for.

Whatever.
 

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I've bought 12 bikes in the last 6 years (large family), and I've honestly never seen a decent owners manual (including bikes from Trek, Specialized & Surly). I would doubt even a really good owners manual would get into details like how to true a wheel or several other basic things, but if such an owners manual exists, then of course, use it for what it's worth - I just had no idea that such an owner's manual existed based on my experiences.

And - on another hopefully related topic which, I believe may be relevant/important for newbs - please be considerate when having your bike maintained by the local bike shop (lbs). It's generally not polite to hang around and pester the bike mechanics with questions while they're working. Some shops I go into have more public access to the mechanics areas than others. Bike mechanics have a job to do & they're (most likely) very professional - let 'em do their job uninterrupted unless they invite you into or over to their work area - isn't that how you'd like to get your job done?

Of course, there may be obvious exceptions to this rule, but generally, I'd suggest leaving them alone when they're working.
 

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Funny things....

All the Shimano instruction sheets are included with every bike when it makes it to the store. Not all that many stores give them to the customers-mores the shame since they are part of the customer service package-just as not all shops include and install the legally required reflectors on all their bikes.

Customers ought to raise heck with dealers that don't do both.

When we bought our Rivendells (the last bikes I bought at retail) the owners manual that was included was actually a medium (not the best I've seen, not the worst either) quality repair manual.

If a customer comes into the shop during the week or during the winter our mechs are fairly willing to give a tips and instructions. On a spring or summer weekend or during a sale the shop just doesn't have time. Smart and aware customers always get the best and most service and yes, a 6-pack or some cookies or pizza once a year will go a long way to making you a favored customer for life.
 

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The quick and dirty: as someone else above said, dirt is bayad, m'kay.

You can get some degreaser/cleaner like Simple Green and do most of the stuff that bike specific cleaners do. Old t-shirts make acceptable bike rags. You get wrenching bonus points if it started out as an old race shirt.

I usually clean/lube about every other week, or after a rain ride. Wipe things down and check things out: bolts, tires, rims, etc. At first, if you find something wrong other than a loose bolt, take it to the shop. Afterwards, when you see how easy it is to work on bikes, you'll be able to be a little braver and screw things up (I mean fix) on your own.

Your BEST bet for learning how to do things the 'bike mechanic way' is to bribe your favorite wrench with beer and pizza so they'll show you stuff before/after work. Just make sure that you tell em YOU wanna do the work or you won't ever learn anything.

Like anything, there's a learning curve. Many happy years of greasy hands later, my bike only goes into the shop for HS pressing. ...and that's only 'cause it takes a LOT of beer bribes to pay for one of those Park pressing toolz.

M
 

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MB1 said:
So let me get this straight; someone new to a product just dropped $1-2,000 on a new piece of equipment that they know very little about.

And you don't think they should read the owners manual or take advantage of the free services their dealer offers?

BTW the owners manuals and Shimano parts instruction sheets that are included with the bikes we sell offer very detailed setup and adjustment information as well as a lot of general tips that are a really good start for a new owner. They are included with the purchase of every new bicycle at no additional cost.

Sure, throw the owners manual away then spend $20 for a book that won't have as detailed and specific information and instructions for your bike. Then don't take that bike back to the store for free servicing till it falls apart and needs repairs that you are likely going to have to pay for.

Whatever.
Free adjustments for the first year are a great thing, take them, they're free. If you are a good enough customer and get along with the guys at the LBS, then watch and learn too (if applicable). I was not knocking this concept at all, hell I fully endorse it. But buying a new bike after a year, um keep on reinforcing those (hopefully) incorrect stereotypes of serious cyclists (roadies especially).... who the hell buys a bike a year when they are first starting out?? Our sport doesn't need to be any more expensive for beginners. A first bike should last until it is either dead or the owner realizes how they want to upgrade and why, this should take more than a year.

Component specific manuals tend to be a great resource, but from my experience they do not come with the bike. They usually have to be downloaded. I'm not sure what brand of components are on the bikes you are selling, but if every bike comes with a manual for every drivetrain, wheel, cockpit and whatever other type of components come on a bike then I'm going to start buying that stuff. That is a lot of paperwork. I actually have component specific manuals for much of mountain bike (suspension is a b*tch), for the road bike I don't really need it as much, but regardless I hunted the stuff down on my own.
From what I have seen of bicycle manuals, they tend to be overly general and basically tell you how to work a quick release and have a few other real basic functions. Never bought a set of wheels that came with instructions on truing (for example).
I don't consider $20 on a book that is full of great information and will be relevant for many years to be a waste of money. Buying a new bike after only owning a "first" bike for a year is waste of money.
 

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didn't see your second post

That is very cool that you provide full Shimano documentation. That is good customer service. I still think a good comprehensive book is a good investment though. DIY all the way (or until I think I'll f' it up, headsets for example)
 

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While I don;t agree with everything written......

there has been some pretty good advice so far. (Have an expert wrap your bar tape WTF?)

I will add one thing that most newbies don't realize......there are good mechanics out there and there are hacks.....when you find a good mechanic, stick with him, tip him, because you will need him and when you do he is worth his weight.

How do you find a good mechanic or how do you tell? Especially for a newbie, this can be difficult......ask other cyclist. Find someone who knows bikes and cares about their equipment and find out who they use. Be careful, some people with great bikes wouldn't know a good mechanic if he hit them. Listen to a whole group of cyclist and a concensus will begin to form. Try him (or her). Does he listen to you? Is the problem fixed when you get the bike bake? Did he take care of your bike? Were his rates reasonable? Does he get upset when something doesn't stay fixed....and then get to the bottom of it? Trust your instinct, you will know a good mechanic after he does some work for you.

Every ride:

- check brakes,
- check wheels for true (rotate wheel thru brake shoes and see if distance between brake pad and rim changes as the wheel rotates)
- Make sure Headset is tight. (bounce front wheel on ground and listen for thud)
- check pedals for tightness on crank (I had one work loose...trust me it's no fun)
- Check seatbolt binder bolt for tightness (Try to hand move seat)
- inflate tires...rotate and check for cuts.

above checks take 20 seconds.....the alternative is not good.

Weekly or so:

- Clean & Lube drivetrain including jockey wheels, fron Der pivots, rear der pivots and chain
- Clean bike. check for dings/cracks/defects

Bi Monthly:

- Change bar tape
- Check Chain stretch
- Check cogs/chainrings for wear
- Check chainring bolts for tightness
- Proofhide saddles every 4 months (Brooks)
- Lube springs on cleats (speedplay)
- Replace tires as necessary (depending onmilage/condition)
- Touch up paint as necessary
- Check Hedset for binding

Annually:

- replace cables
- replace brake pads (cheap insurance)
- Have BB checked
- regrease hubs
- Check Bars/stems for defects
- regrease pedals
- Remove Tires/tubes....replace velox tape, retrue and reround wheels as necessary
- Regrease seatpost

I'm sure i've missed some........Other than some of the annual maintenance...everything else is relativly easy

Len
 
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