One of the great things about the humble bicycle is that, unlike a car, repairs can often be made at home with a handful of allen keys and usually for very little money.
However, whilst we wouldn’t advocate a novice servicing their own bottom bracket without a bit of help, we would advocate learning some of the basics. Fortunately, here in Cardiff we have Cycle Training Wales, whom run training courses covering everything from adjusting your saddle to the mysterious art of wheel building.
Our Fix it yourself suite is suitable for both enthusiasts and novices. The courses take you from simple tune-up tasks right through to major component overhauls. Just pick the level that suits you.
However, in the meantime, making sure you know how to fix a puncture, adjust your brakes and index your gears should be quite high up your list of priorities. Punctures tend to happen a lot in the wet (and it rains here constantly) and anyone with a new bike or new cables is going to find their indexing going all over the place as the new cables stretch.
It’s also worth getting the hang of the anatomy of your bike –which parts are which and what each part does. Clunks, squeaks and rattles can often be traced to a particular part of the bike and it will help you and any mechanic you employ if you know what that part is.
Some noises are temporary, often when you have picked up some muck from the trail, but others, particularly those that clunk or can be felt through your pedals are usually worth investigating.
We’ll cover some of these common issues in more detail in future posts, but in the meantime, here’s a couple of quick pointers:
- If you hear a ticking sound whether you are pedalling or not, it’s likely to be wheel-related. It could be that your wheel is out of true and rubbing against the brakes, or your freehub needs greasing.
- If you feel a tap or thud through your foot as you pedal, or it makes an audible knock at the same point during the pedal stroke, it is probably your bottom bracket and it either needs replacing or re-greasing & tightening. Fortunately, if you do take this sort of job to a shop to fix, it’ll likely be no more than about £40.
- If you have disc brakes and braking results in a god-awful squeal, check that there’s still some meat on the pads. The same applies to calliper brakes too, but they’re much easier to see!
- If it squeaks, it probably needs lubricating (chains, pedals, cleats etc) or it has water sloshing about in it (your bottom bracket). If it knocks, it’s probably loose or worn. The challenge is working out where the noise is coming from.
- Some noises are frustratingly intermittent and will seldom show themselves when you take it to the shop for repair…
- A chain without lube on it can be heard for miles on the Taff Trail…