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I just bought my first road bike two days ago and I'm still extremely green, so I thought I'd ask a few questions I haven't been able to find clear answers to yet.

1. I've pretty much accepted the fact that at some point down the line I'll probably crash. Is there a right way to fall? Are there things I should avoid doing when I realize I'm going down? Any tips on avoiding this other than the obvious 'don't ride into the side of a car' or watch out for potholes'?

2. What kind of maintenance/repairs should I learn to do on my own, and what should I leave to the guys at the shop? Obviously changing flats and keeping the bike clean and all that, but what else is good to know?

3. What tools, if any, should I consider picking up if I plan to learn to do my own basic maintenance and simple repairs?

4. Are there any faux pas that new riders might not know of? I'd hate to piss off someone who's been at it for years just because of my ignorance...I really am trying to learn!

5. Is there some kind of roadie glossary anywhere out there (with slang included)? I'm having a hard time here and there, not sure if I'm just on the outside of an inside joke or if I really have no clue what someone is talking about. Maybe a glossary would be a good thread here?

6. Saddlebag or backpack? or both?

7. Anything else I'm missing that you can offer?
 

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1. The only advice I can give you once you are crashing is find someplace soft to land and protect your head. The best thing to do is make sure that you are protected as much as possible (properly worn helmet and gloves)

2. You should be able to clean and lube your bike, replace the pedals, swap out cassettes, change a chainring, adjust brakes and derailiures. You Tube and Park Tools is a great source for how to videos. I am not at the point where I would feel comfortable replacing cableing, the bottom bracket or rebuilding wheels.

3. Quite a few things can be accomplished with a good set of allen wrenchs. I have a pedal wrench/chain whip and a cassette removal tool. If you are serious about maintenance I would imagine that a repair stand would come in handy. I have been able to use my trainer as a stand for the things that I have done.

4. I am still in the learning stages too so I can't give you much advice. I joined a club and have learned quite a bit from just listening and asking questions. The group I am in is not a race club so the "rules" are pretty simple. Be on time, keep up with your maintenance, don't try and go out with the no drop, fast ride unless you are reasonably certain that you can keep up. Hard core roadies have a reputation of being a little on the aloof side. If you are riding with your "dork disk" on, reflectors and wearing a full pro kit you may get laughed at as they pass you but I don't think that they will be pissed off unless you don't get out of the way.

5. http://kba.tripod.com/slang.htm Also try sheldonbrown.com for a ton of bike info,

7. Enjoy yourself.
 

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As a relative newbie myself...

+1 to everything Steve said, and +infinity to Sheldon Brown, you can learn almost anything from his site.
And for (6), if you have cycling jerseys, they should have three pockets in the back, which I use for cell, pump, and snacks, so using them rules out a backpack. A saddlebag is very useful to have. Size is a personal preference, so go for what seems right, but I'd suggest a slightly smaller one to fit a tube, tire levers, tiny patch-kit, and a minitool . A backpack is what I used before, one of those smaller camelbacks, and it worked well, but riding without one felt much better.
 

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+2 on everything mentioned.
Learn your own bike. That way if you break down you can patch it up and get home. I dont know about you but i do alot of riding way out into the corn field surrounded roads and if you break down nobody is coming by for a while.
 

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Andrea138 said:
If you're falling, don't let go of the bars. It'll discourage you from putting a hand out to try and catch yourself.
Got beat on the punch, but yes - that way you don't break a bone, specifically your collarbone.
 

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Good advice from everybody so far. The only thing I was going to add to Steve's response is that if you go down, you should try to remember not to thrust a hand out to break your fall--it's hell on collarbones. But of course when you fall, you're not in thinking-clearly mode. Andrea's advice to hang onto the bars is good. It's going to hurt anyway, and it will hurt less in the long run if you don't break any bones.
One thing that can improve your chances of staying upright is to learn to watch for loose gravel, sand etc. on the pavement. The only two bad falls I've had in 30+ years of cycling came from that. If you get into loose stuff, try to avoid the brakes, especially the front.
My preference on repairs and maintenance is to do as much as I can by myself. It's cheaper, not onerous, and you know it's done right. By now I've picked up just about everything except wheelbuilding, in which I just don't have much interest. But it's useful to know how to TRUE a wheel. Other than very basic things like tire levers and a combo tool, you can put off buying tools until you need them. Prepacked tool kits are available, and generally a good deal, but they always seem to have things you rarely or never use.
For carrying stuff, I use a seat bag for the basics and a handlebar bag for extras, like a camera when I take one. People who take themselves seriously don't seem to like bar bags, but screw 'em--things are where I can reach them when I'm riding. Over the years I've accumulated a lot of bags, and I can swap from one just big enough for a spare tube to a Carradice bag the size of a carry-on. I don't like to wear a backpack, and to me, wearing a jersey on a ride around town is too much like dressing up in pads and helmet to play football with your kids in the park, so the pocket option isn't open to me.
Don't think too much about this, by the way. Just go ride the bike and have fun, and it will slowly come together.
 

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Thanks for adding the putting out the hand thing. To date I have only had a couple of zero speed falls because I was a little weak on the clipless pedals and was fortunate to absorb the falls with my hip. Embarassing as hell, but not real damage to me and only a couple of small scratches to the bike.
 

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there really isn't anything special about working on your bike. time, finding the correct info/directions, and have the correct tools are all you need. keep an eye out for a small tool set and pick on up when the go on sale. performance and probably every other online bike store has them. it will give you most of you basic tools you'll need.

parktools.com and youtube should help you learn how to fix stuff.


oh, and take you bike in for it's free tune up after the shifting starts acting up. your cable will stretch and most bikes come with a free adjustment for that. then begin to learn how to do stuff on your own.
 

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you can do almost any bicycle repair in under an hour.. derailleur tuning takes maybe 5 minutes. dropping the bike off at the shop takes a day, if you're lucky (more like a week during prime riding season!).

the downtime was a huge motivation for me to do my own repairs.. plus its my own bike, i know im going to do the best job i possibly can on it.. i cant say the same about the 16 year old pothead who screwed up assembling my bike.

i think wheelbuilding is kinda fun.. but with internet prebuilt wheels, it really costs more to build up your own set than to fix/tension a prebuilt.
 

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Re crashing: Andrea is absolutely right, but IME I was always pretty much down before I realized what happened. There are cases where you can see it coming, but I think those are pretty rare.

Maintenance: Bikes are pretty simple compared to most other conveyances. Nothing is hidden beneath sheet metal - everything's right there where you can see it. You may need a few special tools, nothing that'll break the bank though. Allen wrenches, screwdrivers, cable cutters, tire levers, a floor pump and a Park 3rd hand tool will take care of almost everything on the bike. When you feel like doing more, you can add tools as needed. One thing that I'd highly, highly, highly recommend is a repair stand. IMO/IME that's a pretty darn indispensable tool. Too bad they're also relatively expensive. They're usually close to $80-200. You'll only need one in your lifetime. Get one.
 

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6) Saddlebags don't work for Road bikes. If you are looking to commute or tour, you should buy a Touring bike.
 

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2." What kind of maintenance/repairs should I learn to do on my own, and what should I leave to the guys at the shop? Obviously changing flats and keeping the bike clean and all that, but what else is good to know?"

Lennard Zinn's "Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance" has just about everything you'll need to know plus some!
 

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Adjusting brakes and derailleurs, installing new cables, installing a new chain, taping the bars. That's about it for starters. Like I said, bikes are pretty simple. More complex tasks will include removing cranks, installing new bearings, adjusting & lubing headset, and truing wheels. I'd concentrate on the little stuff first. It's likely all you'll need for about a year unless something unforetold happens.
 

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As for Glossary, check out "Roadie- The misunderstood world of a bike racer" By Jamie Smith (cartoons by the guy who does the comic strip Frazz.) It's an interesting read and it was made for the loved ones of those who are roadies so they understand us a little better. It's nice for a beginner also because it will define and explain most of the stuff you need to know, and explain what it takes to do those things.

As for repairs go out and get one of those tool kits online and Zinn's art of road bicycle repair , and as things need repaired learn how to do it. Don't try to tackle everything out once. Start easy with the brakes and shifting, and as stuff needs changing or you upgrade learn the new stuff. If you can befriend a mechanic he will usually allow you to watch what he does and he can explain what he's doing. But if you start doing a lot of repair a tool box and table are a must(there's nothing worse than losing that tool or that little part in a pile of tools are parts on the floor, and a repair stand will make things a hundred times easier.

Wrenching is not hard in a couple months I had learned enough to build a bike from the frame up by myself.
 

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1. The others are correct, fall on your side and not your hands.

2. Change flats, keep the bike clean and rims true.

3. CO2 cartridges, tire levers, allen wrenches, small bag under saddle for these things.

Ride in a straight line, not all over the road. Bend your elbows a little bit. Don't wear underwear. Try to find a club to ride with so that they can show you how to ride in a group.

5. There is a book called "Roadie, The Misunderstood World of a Bike Racer" by Jamie Smith that is pretty good at explaining a lot of the roadie mentality.

6. Saddlebag or backpack? or both?
What are you riding on a Harley?

7. Eat, sleep and drink cycling and soon your bike will be more expensive than your car.
 
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