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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks,

So I've slowly been getting back into riding. Most of my riding is commuting (30k/day on a cx bike). I live in a big city so the road riding isn't great (you have to ride for about 30-40k before you get out of suburban industrial areas).

I've fallen in love again with everything bike though and would like to race crits and then cx next year. In addition, especially given the urban, messenger, cx, trail/gravel scene (a weird mix in my city - Toronto - I know, but it's here), I have developed a passion/obsession for building and fixing up bikes (also a side interest in learning to do it and teaching others who are low income or who struggle with mental health issues). I've loved tinkering with all sorts of things my whole life. I've got two jobs right now that keep me pretty busy, but they're both sit on your butt intellectual vocation and I'd like a craft/mechanical avocation because I don't do well when I just sit on my butt and surf the web or watch netflix!

So I'm wondering what the best way might be to get familiar with more advanced repair (I can change a tire, adjust cables, brake pads, deal with chain issues), parts, building bikes, and eventually maybe even some sort of designing? Thanks all!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You think google/youtube is better than any sort of general instruction course? I guess the other part of it is having bikes/parts to work with! I've got a road and cx bike; but they're in pretty good shape!
 

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Generally, just figure out what needs periodic maintenance and start there, drivetrain cleaning, cable replacements - which will lead to shifter and derailer adjusting, etc... then and if you should be buying a frame and throwing parts on, expand to other video's.

The Park Tool website has decent How-To's on all the parts that you could adjust with a Park Tool.

Home Page | Park Tool

Arts Cyclery also has some tutorials.

Learning Center
 

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You think google/youtube is better than any sort of general instruction course? I guess the other part of it is having bikes/parts to work with! I've got a road and cx bike; but they're in pretty good shape!
personally, yes, I do. It's always available and can taken at your own pace on your own schedule, unlike a course.
 

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Generally, just figure out what needs periodic maintenance and start there, drivetrain cleaning, cable replacements - which will lead to shifter and derailer adjusting, etc... then and if you should be buying a frame and throwing parts on, expand to other video's.

The Park Tool website has decent How-To's on all the parts that you could adjust with a Park Tool.
Home Page | Park Tool
Arts Cyclery also has some tutorials.
Learning Center
Another site with useful stuff, some about repairs, and others stuff just of general interest to anyone who likes bicycles.
Articles by Sheldon Brown and Others
Sheldon Brown passed away about 8 years ago, but most of what he wrote is still applicable, and others have kept his articles up to date where necessary.
 

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Art's cyclery "Ask a Mechanic" is a good resource on you-tube and worth watching even for a simple thing like changing handle bar tape or installing a new chain. Also just dive in and start working on the bike. Purchase tools as you need them. Park tools is probably the leader in bicycle tools but there are other brands that may be as good or good enough. You can do quite a lot on a bicycle with a couple of allen wrenches and a 5NM torque key. A good place to start.
 

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There are a couple of good books if you want something tactile to read. The Park Tools people have a nice book that is kept up to date.

Also, the Lennard Zinn book(s) are all good.

That said, those books contain a lot of info you not likely to ever need. Unless you are going to start rebuilding/restoring classic stuff, all you really need to know is how to build and maintain your own bikes.

Assuming those are relatively newer gear (the last 4 years or so), there really isn't much to it.

I'm much like you. I'm very mechanically inclined, and have good hands for doing this kind of thing. When I rebooted my bike hobby after 20+ years of inactivity, I was starting at zero, with no real knowledge. At first, I just let the bike shop handle everything, but I found that not working so well. They did a decent job, but most of the time, something was off just a bit. I got a little frustrated, and just decided to get a stand and roll up my sleeves and go for it. I taught myself to run cables, set up deraileurs, wrap handlebars, troubleshoot squeaks and creaks, properly torque and lube the right parts in the right places.

Then, two winters ago, I decided to rebuild one of my bikes (strip it to the frame and install upgraded components). Doing this gave me the benefit of tearing it down, so I knew generall what went where.

The key to being sucessful is to not be in a hurry, and don't be afraid to make a mistake (within reason - don't crush your new $400 enve handlebars - use a torque wrench!). Just take your time, do one thing at a time, and stop and research problems as you encounter them. Invest in the tools as you come across the need for them.

If you get stuck on something, come post here with some decent pictures and a description of what you are trying to do, and you'll find all the help you need.

Something else that can help. Watch other people. This one isn't easy if you don't have any bike mechanic friends, but if you are racing, then maybe put the word out with your team that you'd like to hang out with someone while they are working on their stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
This sounds great. I've got a lot of tools already. The big one I've wanted is a pedal wrench, but I've asked for this along with a new steel fork and disk brakes for Christmas for my xc bike. So this could be my first big project given all the info folks have shared here. Thanks guys!
 

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You think google/youtube is better than any sort of general instruction course? I guess the other part of it is having bikes/parts to work with! I've got a road and cx bike; but they're in pretty good shape!
For some people google/youtube is better, for others a course will work the best. Why not try both and see what works best for you.
 

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You will probably need two pedal wrenches, depending on your pedals. A thin 15mm open end wrench and an 8mm allen key. I have pedals that use one, or in some cases both of these. Long handles work best, and remember the left is is reverse threaded

I meant to post this video earlier, but got busy and forgot. Watching this kind of pushed me over the edge to give this a try myself.

 

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'brifter' is f'ing stupid
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YouTube. You can take the best instructional courses available but unless you follow that up by going to work in a shop directly you'll forget 99% of what you just paid big bucks to learn. If you learn how to find the 'good' videos you'll do fine. I know a lot of people that went to UBI and then didn't get a job in shop for 6mos to whatever...they basically knew nothing at that point. The things they thought they remembered caused more problems than the stuff they'd admittedly forgotten.
 

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From my point of view ability to correctly diagnose a problem is more important than knowing how to fix it. Most guys I deal with say they can do this and that, but put a bike in front of them experiencing an issue and half of them don't think anything is wrong. The other half know something is wrong, but don't know what it is. My thought process has always been, how can you begin to fix a problem when you can't even ID the problem correctly.
Trouble shooting is key. Barring that, the more problems you encounter, the better equipped you are to deal with them.
 

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'brifter' is f'ing stupid
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From my point of view ability to correctly diagnose a problem is more important than knowing how to fix it. Most guys I deal with say they can do this and that, but put a bike in front of them experiencing an issue and half of them don't think anything is wrong. The other half know something is wrong, but don't know what it is. My thought process has always been, how can you begin to fix a problem when you can't even ID the problem correctly.
Trouble shooting is key. Barring that, the more problems you encounter, the better equipped you are to deal with them.
Correct diagnosis is hugely important. The ability to do this can only come from years of experience. Bikes are simple, but there are subtle differences that are very important.
 

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Correct diagnosis is hugely important. The ability to do this can only come from years of experience. Bikes are simple, but there are subtle differences that are very important.
And to emphasize this point, I am somewhat amazed by how so many people seem unable to actually look at their bike and see what is going on. Many questions that get asked tell us that simple things like "where did the tire puncture" and "does the derailleur line up with the cogs" are not something that occurs to folks. The simplicity of bikes does mean that "you can observe a lot by watching."
 

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The internet is the best source of information available. I am a "fix it" kind of guy by nature. I got that from my Dad. I was helping him do brake jobs, replace alternators, water pumps etc. on the family car from about 6 or 7 years old. I got my first bike when I was nine and have always worked on my own bikes, mostly because the concept of taking anything to a shop was totally foreign to me. I also collect junk especially old bikes. I learned most of my bike repair skills by disassembling, cleaning up and reassembling old junk bikes. I am constantly amazed at how many folks just chunk a perfectly good bike out on the trash pile. I pick them up and take them home and will give them a going over. I donate a lot of them to a co-op in my town. If they are busted up too bad I will remove all the parts that I like and put the rest back out on the street. Somebody usually picks them up for the scrap metal if nothing else.
 
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