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Bike maintenance.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


Over the past couple of years I’ve done more and more of my own bike maintenance. Taking my bike to the shop is a pain, it’s expensive and (worst of all) it puts me out of action while the shop is working on it–often several days. Some repairs are relatively simple to perform, while others can be extremely complicated. I’ve discovered that most common maintenance tasks and repairs can be performed at home. Just be aware that there is a learning curve and some specialized equipment is required. I’ve found that the equipment I’ve purchased has more than paid for itself over the years.

My sort of “go to” reference book is Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance by Lennard Zinn. This book covers just about anything you’d want to know about mountain bike repair and maintenance. Lennard covers everything from basic “Level 1” repairs to far more complicated “Level 3” repairs. The book has helpful sections on the tools required to perform each of the three levels of repair, and also a great chapter on emergency repairs. There are hundreds of clear illustrations throughout the book, and those are very helpful when learning new concepts.

My Trek Fuel EX 8 mounted to the Park Tools PCS-9 bike repair stand.

My Trek Fuel EX 8 mounted to the Park Tools PCS-9 bike repair stand.

One piece of equipment that every bike owner should have is a bike repair stand. Flipping your bike over on the ground to clean, oil or perform work on it is a really bad idea. Not only will that practice damage your bike (the seat, handlebars and shifters will get scratched up no matter how careful you are) you’re limited to just one view of the bike. I highly recommend the Park Tool PCS-9 Home Mechanic Repair Stand. This stand is inexpensive & sturdy, and it will allow you to raise and lower the bike and rotate the bike 360 degrees. Some bike repairs can be difficult and even frustrating, so being able to turn the bike and get what you’re working on up to eye level really helps. Oh, and be sure to pick up the Park Tools Handlebar Holder as well–it does a great job of keeping the front end from flopping around when you’re rotating the bike.

A very basic (“Level 1”) tool kit that will allow you to perform regular maintenance tasks and minor repairs should include: 3 tire levers, a chain break tool, a spoke wrench, a tire pump (for both Presta and Schrader valves) with gauge, a set of standard and Phillps-head screwdrivers, several spare tubes, talcum powder, a tube patch kit, a 6-inch adjustable wrench, a pair of pliers, a set of metric hex keys (2.5mm – 10mm), a set of metric open-end wrenches, a 15mm pedal wrench, a chain elongation gauge, bike grease, chain lube, rubbing alcohol, rags and a shock pump.

None of those items are expensive or difficult to find (most can be purchased on Amazon), and they will pay for themselves in no time.

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