How to keep your bike running at its best
Sam Walker provides some advice on the set of tools you will need to maintain your bike and fix some wear and tear your bike may experience.
Cycling is a fantastic sport. It requires nothing but you and your bicycle. Many people keep themselves in a good healthy condition through cycling, but it is also essential to keep your bike in good working order as well. Over time your bike will suffer wear and tear, and for it to serve you correctly, you will need to maintain and even fix it occasionally.
Home bicycle maintenance and repairs have become more prevalent in recent years, as people do not need to take their bike to the local bike shop anymore with the growth of online information that is readily available. It also requires a few tools. If you are interested in getting started with home bicycle mechanics, get yourself the following tools to start your bicycle toolset.
For Cleaning Your Bike
Keeping your bike clean is the base of your bicycle maintenance and half of the battle. You do not need to get fancy with how you do this; some even use a hose and an old toothbrush to get at the hard to reach places. However, there are a few tools that can help you to do the job even better:
Use all of the above with some soap and a water hose, and you will have yourself a cared for bike that will last a lot longer.
For Fixing a Flat Tire
Putting together a tire replacement kit is essential for anyone who rides often or rides long distances. It is only a matter of time before you get a flat and are left stranded on some country road. It would help if you gathered the following tools in a small carry-along-sack, which are all cheap and lightweight.
If you are fixing a tire at home, you can also use a tire patch kit to patch your punctured tire tube, but out on the road, you should replace your damaged tube with a new one. The tire levers help you take the tire off the bike, and the hand pump allows you to fill it back up with air.
In a pinch, if all you have is a hand pump when you encounter a flat on the road, it may be enough to fill some air back into your tire to try and get yourself home. This is not ideal, however, if you need to travel back a long distance.
Adjusting your Handlebars, Seat and Accessories
To tighten or loosen your handlebars and seat, you will need a good set of Allen keys (also called hex key set). Allen keys can adjust many parts of the bike and are extremely useful. Your gearing and breaking stem also require Allen keys to adjust, as do your pump mounts and a bottle holder. Allen keys are an essential tool for anyone fiddling with their bike's components, whether you are serious about home bike repair or not.
For Replacing the Chain
Your chain will need replacing sooner or later. Use a chain tool to push the pin out of one of the chain links to both remove the chain and to make a new chain the right length. Learning how to check your chain and replace it when it is worn out will save you a lot of money in the long run. When your chain gets worn down, it begins also to wear down the drivetrain. Changing your chain before this happens will save you from having to replace parts of your drivetrain as well, especially the cassette.
Removing or Replacing the Cassette
You are going to need a lock ring which will be inserted into the top of the cassette and also a chain whip, which holds the cassette in place. An adjustable wrench is also needed to grasp the lock ring and work it against the chain whip to remove the cassette. Sounds complicated but it isn't. Get a good bicycle repair book with diagrams to help you understand the process.
For all Bicycle Repairs and Maintenance
Use a bike repair stand to hold your bike stable and at an elevated level while you work on it or clean it. This makes things a great deal easier and is vital for the health of your bike. Turning your bike upside down with a makeshift stand at home will put unnecessary pressure on your bike's components and not provide much stability. Make sure you get a quality home mechanic repair stand, or you could end up with something flimsy which loses the point of having a stand in the first place.
Other necessary tools for most repairs that you may already own are your flat and Phillips screwdrivers, pliers and long nose pliers.
This is your beginning set of tools for essential repairs. Many others can help when you get into it, but it is good to start slow and make sure you enjoy the work before you go too far. Investing in the health of your bike is like investing in the health of your body. It takes a bit of knowledge and work, but it pays off in the long run by providing you with many years of quality cycling.
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About the Author
Sam Walker has written numerous articles on the benefits of biking and home bike repairs. He is a freelance writer and reviewer at Gear Reviews Online and is currently researching and reviewing the best bike repair stands on the market.
The following Sports Coach pages provide additional information on this topic: