Simple Bike Repairs
Posted by Ashley on Feb 17, 2011 | Bike Maintenance
Cleaning the Chain
Soak the center of a sponge with dish soap (or a degreaser or cleanser). With one hand, wrap the sponge around the chain, under the chainstay, then with the other hand backpedal 10 revolutions. Rinse the sponge, squeeze out excess water, reload with cleaner and repeat. Continue until the sponge no longer gets dirty. Dry the chain by letting it sit for 10 minutes or by backpedaling through a clean rag. Apply one drop of lube to each of the chain's pins, then backpedal 10 revolutions, allow five minutes for the lube to penetrate, then wipe the chain with a clean rag by backpedaling (any lube removed this way is excess that doesn't help the links move, and attracts grime). A good rule of thumb: clean every two weeks, 10 hours of riding, or if you go on a wet ride.
Examine the pads and remove embedded grit of metal shards (which come from your rim) with an awl, tweezers or other sharp implement. Then roughen the surface with sandpaper or a file to improve braking. Finally, replace the set if either pad is too hard to let you press in with your thumbnail, or if the grooves etched into the pad are so worn they're almost nonexistent. Examine around once a week, or after every wet ride.
Cleats and Pedals
When your cleats wear, your foot can get stuck in the pedals - hello, embarrassing topple at a stop sign - or pull out under torque and take half the Sunday ride down at the town-line sprint. Most plastic cleats, such as Look, have built-in wear indicators: when a different color shows through, it's time to replace the cleat. Also watch for chipped or ragged edges. Metal cleats tend to look sharp or overly shiny at the edges. The best indicator is that clicking in or out becomes unpredictable. If performance is iffy but you don't detect wear, try lightly lubing the pedal everywhere it contacts the cleat (not the shoe sole). From now on inspect every six months, or when clicking in or out becomes persnickety.
A Patch won't Stick to the Glue on the Tube
Apply more glue and let it dry completely - about five minutes (don't blow on the glue to try and make it dry faster, this can leave moisture from your breath on it, which hinders adhesion). When you apply the patch, avoid touching its sticky side with your fingers.
Every time you Fix a Puncture, the New Tube goes Flat
If the holes in the tube are on the bottom, the rim strip may be out of position, allowing the tube to get cut by the spokes. If they're on the top, there may be some small sharp object stuck in the tire. Find it by running your fingers lightly around the inside of the tire, then remove it.
For more simple tips on keeping your bike riding smoothly visit BicyclingMagazine.com.