bicycle repair points

To keep a bicycle and all of its parts in good condition, you must clean and lube the bicycle regularly. For daily riders, checking and lubing the bicycle should be done at least once a week in the winter and once every two weeks. If you follow these steps, this job should take about twenty minutes.


Make sure that the bearings in the bottom bracket, headset, hubs, and pedals are tight. If there seems to be any noise or play, the bearings should be checked out by a bicycle mechanic.


Your brakes are properly adjusted when you can only pull the brake levers halfway to the handlebar after the brake pads hit the rim. If you are able to pull the brake levers closer than that, your brakes need to be readjusted. There's a good chance that your brake cables needs to be adjusted at the cable adjuster. Loosen the locknut and give the adjuster at least two turns counterclockwise. Continue this process until the brake lever feel almost solid. On cantilever brakes, the adjustor is on the brake lever and on road bikes the adjuster is on the brake arm.

In an open position, the brake pads should be at least a millimeter away from the rim. There should be also a good toe-in. Make sure that the front edge of the pad is 1/32mm closer to the rim than the back edge. Pads are completely worn out when the slots on the face of the pads have worn away.

Brake cables should be checked for fraying. This fraying might occur near the cable adjuster or where the inner cable emerge from the outer cable. You should lube the cables by squirting oil down the inner cables and nipples. If you leave the nipples dry, the cable could fray. Oil should also be put on the pivot. With side pull brakes more oil needs to be applied because there is a lot of internal friction.


The cables should be checked for fraying and tightness. With regards to the rear derailleur cable, there should be at least a 6 mm gap between the chain cage and the chain ring.


Make sure that the chain is cleaned kept free from grit. The chain is the most "at risk" lubricated part on the bicycle. It should be lubricated frequently to help slow the rate of wear on the chain.

You should lubricate the chain whenever it squeaks or appears dry. Lubing the chain after wet rides will help keep the chain from rusting. The type of lubricant that you use will affect how often you have to lubricate.

Every once in a while, the chain should be removed from the bicycle to be cleaned thoroughly in a solvent and re-oiled. When you a solvent do not use something traditional like kerosene and turpentine but something that is more environmentally friendly. No matter what solvent that you use make sure that you dispose of it properly.

Weather conditions also affect lubing needs. Rainy weather requires a more durable bike oil. Dry times requires a more lighter oil that will not pick as much dirt.

With spot-lubes the chain must be soaked first with spray lube. After this lube has time to penetrate, give the chain a heavy coating of oil to back it up but wipe off any excess. Keep in mind that the type of chain lubricant that you use will affect how often you need to lubricate.


Make sure that no chain ring bolts are not loose or missing. Use an Allen wrench to tighten them. If a bolt is missing, replace it immediately so that there is no bending of the chain ring. Check to make sure that the cranks and chain rings are both straight by looking down at them from above.


Make sure that all clamps and bolts are tight. Do not over tighten so that you do not damage the threads.


Hold one crank still with one hand and see if you can move the other one. If you can, the crank bolt needs to be tightened. Try to move the cranks sideways. If they do move and equal amount to the left and the right, it means that the bottom bracket needs to be tightened.


Lube each of the main pivots of the rear gear mechanism, the top pivot, and the chain cage pivot. Wipe them so that they have a light coating of oil. Spray the center of the pulley wheels to keep them running smoothly.

Lube the front derailleur at each its eight pivot points. Also, lube around the chain cage and the gear shifters. Make sure that wherever an inner cable turns a cable there should be lubrication.


Check to make sure that the forks are not bent. Look from above to check this out. The top six inches of conventional forks should run parallel with the head tube.

Make sure that the dropouts, especially the rear ones, are not bent or cracked. Most dropouts on steel frames can be re-straightened. With aluminum frames, dropouts can be replaced. If there are any signs of cracks, take the bicycle to a bike shop to have it checked out.

Make sure that there are cracks in the paint on the top and down tubes where the bottom, head, and top tubes meet. Run your finger underneath the tubes to feel for any ripples. If there are only ripples, the only real solution is to replace the frame.


Check the handlebar and stem for any cracks. Make sure that the handlebar are level and the stem lines up with the front wheel.


Tires should be checked regularly for any wear. A worn tire is more likely to get punctured. Pry out any pebbles or stones that are stuck in the tire tread with a screwdriver. If there is any serious damage such as deep cuts, you should consider in buying a new tire. Keep them pumped up to the correct tire pressure.

Check to make sure that the wall of the tire is covered smoothly with rubber that is unbroken all the way around. To check this, it may be necessary to deflate the tire to see if any fabric is showing or there are any cuts or splits. If there are any, replace the tire.


Lift each of the wheels individually off the ground and spin it. If the wheel doesn't spin smoothly, determine whether the tire or the wheel is out of true. Turn the wheel slowly and use the brake pads to determine how much buckle there is. If the tire is not running straight, you might have to take it off and refit it.

Stretch each pair of spokes with your finger and thumb to make sure that they are correctly tensioned. Clean the spokes. Put a drop of oil on each of the spokes every once in a while.

Hub bearings should be checked for wear by lifting the wheels off the ground and spinning them. If you can feel any vibration in the handlebar, it is the a sign that the bearings are worn. Another sign of play is when the axle of the wheel can be moved from side to side. If there is any play in the bearings, they need to be tightened or removed. After any repairs are done, the hubs should be well greased.

Turn the axle with your fingers. The movement should be smooth. If not and there is a feeling of grittiness or tightness, disassemble and grease again. If the movement of the axle feels smooth a few drops of oil should be put between the axle and hub.

Check for any dents on the rims. A small dent can be straightened with an adjustable wrench. However if it is a big dent, you might need to get a new rim. The braking pads will wear the braking surface of the rim. This will cause a deep ridge to be formed all around the rim. If you are able to flex the rim with your fingers when the tire is not inflated, the rim needs to be replaced. Make sure that the rim does not have any sharp edges and that the rim strip is properly installed.

I hope that this helps you while on the road but it is best that you also take your bicycle in for "tightness control". This should be semi-annual bike shop visits. Bringing the bicycle in for these "check-ups" will insure that the complex, hard to evaluate components are checked and serviced regularly.


Bicyclist in Sunset


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