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Monday, April 23, 2012

Mending a Punctured Tire Tube

Tube punctures are the most common form of a breakdown and it is really easy to learn how to mend them.

#1. Release brake calipers and remove the wheel.

#2. Use tire levers (available from bike shops) to remove the tire treads.

#3. Carefully run your fingers around the inside of the tire tread to check for sharp objects, such as nails, splinters of glass or thorns. Remove the cause of the puncture and check that there are no more spikes in the tire.

#4. Find the hole in the tube, either by pumping it up and holding it under water to look for bubbles, or by feeling for escaping air. There may be more than one hole so check carefully.

#5. Mark the hold with pen or chalk. Use sandpaper or the scratcher from the puncture repair kit to scuff the area around the hole to help secure the glue to the tube. DO NOT USE A WIRE BRUSH!

#6. Spread glue thinly and evenly over and around the hole or holes in the tube and wait for the glue to dry until it feels tacky to touch. Place a patch over the marked hole and apply pressure. (A faster alternative is to use the new glueless patches.)

#7. Lightly pump up the tube. Place one edge of the tube around the wheel rim and push the tube’s valve into the rim’s hole. Starting from the valve, push the rest of the tube into the tire treads. Ensure the valve stem is perpendicular to the rim and that the tube isn’t twisted. Once the tube is inside the tire, begin to place the second edge of the tire onto the rim. About 75% of the tire will go on easily, the rest will need strong fingers or the tire levers to coax it onto the rim. DO NOT PINCH OR DAMAGE THE TUBE! When done, pump a little more air into the tube and check that the tube isn’t caught between the rim and the tire.

#8. Slide the wheel back into place on the bike and tighten the bolts gradually, ensuring that the wheel remains aligned straight to the frame. Reconnect the brakes.

#9. If you are happy with it, fully pump up the tire. Take the bike on a short ride, and test that the brakes are still working correctly.

On long journeys carry a spare inner tube and the necessary tools with you. Its faster to just replace the tire and mend any punctures later when you get home.

Daily, Weekly and Monthly Bicycle Maintenance

Daily Bicycle Maintenance

Every day you use your bike, give it a quick once-over. It only takes a few seconds. Check the condition of your brakes and tire pressure. If riding at night check your lights too.

Weekly Bicycle Maintenance

It is highly recommended you lubricate exposed moving parts of the bike on a weekly basis, including the chain and gear mechanisms. DO NOT get lubricant on wheel rims or brakes.

Monthly Bicycle Maintenance

#1. Wheels: Check tire pressure and condition. Make certain your wheels are tightly fastened to the frame and in line with the frame. Spin the wheels to make certain they are straight and true.

#2. Brakes: Check the brakes for wear and ensure they contact squarely with the rim, not the tire.

#3. Cables: Replace worn or frayed brake cables and adjust brakes so that the brake levers don’t come into contact with the handlebars when braking hard.

#4. Gears: Check gears and cables work correctly move freely.

#5. Chain: If dirty clean the chain with a rag soaked in degreaser then re-oil the chain.

#6. Handlebar: Check for looseness in the handlebar and stem and tighten where necessary.

#7. Pedals: Pedals should spin freely. Check the pedal axles for looseness and tighten.

#8. Frame: Inspect the frame for any damage / cracks. Adjust the seat height is necessary and check that the seat post bolt is tight.

Most people don't actually do these things, but it only takes a few minutes per month so why not do them.

Commonly Used Tools in a Bicycle Mechanic's Tool Kit

Acquiring new tools is arguably part of the fun of being a bicycle mechanic. The following tools are listed roughly in order of frequency of use. Some older bikes or unique bikes may require more special tools, but you won't use them as often.

Bondhus Ball Hex Key Set (1.5 - 10mm)
8 through 17mm Combination Wrench Set
#2 Phillips and 1/8" & 1/4" Regular Screwdrivers
12" Adjustable Wrench (make sure it opens to at least 36mm)
Needle Nose Pliers
Channel Lock Pliers
Awl
Diagonal Cutters (aka side cutters)
Park TL-1 Tire Levers (times 3)
Cyclo Rivoli Universal Chain Tool
Park SW-7 Multi-Size Spoke Wrench
Park DCW-1 13-14mm Cone Wrench
Park DCW-2 15-16mm Cone Wrench
Park DCW-3 17-18mm Cone Wrench
Park HCW-16 15mm Pedal Wrench / Chain Whip (Sprocket Tool)
Park FR-5G Hyperglide Cassette Lockring Tool
Dualco Grease Gun
Park CN-10 Cable / Housing Cutter
Park CWP-6 Cotterless Crank Puller
Park HCW-4 36mm Bottom Bracket Fixed Cup Wrench / Adjustable Cup Pin Spanner
Park BBT-2 Tool For Shimano Bottom Brackets
Park BBT-18 Tool For ISIS Bottom Brackets
Park BBT-5 Bottom Bracket and Cassette Lockring Tool for Campagnolo
Park BBT-19 Bottom Bracket Tool for X-Type (outboard bearing) BBs
Park HCW-15 32/36mm Headset Wrench
Park CNW-1 Chainring Bushnut Wrench
Park TNS-1 Star Nut Setter
Park Black, Green & Red Color Coded Spoke Wrenches
Vernier Calipers
Truing Stand
Dishing Tool
Park AV-4 Hub Axle / Pedal Spindle Vise
Efficient Velo True Arc Derailleur Alignment Tool
Park FFG-1 Drop-Out Alignment Tools
Pedros Rockstand Workstand or a comparable work stand

And for cleaning purposes I also recommend wire brushes.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bicycle Mechanics Wanted / Gears Bike Shop

To the Bicycle Mechanic:

My name is Kevin Wallace and I am the owner of Gears Bike Shop.

I came across your Bicycle Mechanic Blog and I wanted to ask your permission if it was okay to post a job placement on your site to look for bicycle mechanics to work at the store.

We are willing to invest in people who have a passion to repair bikes. I started the shop 25 years ago as a mechanic and I was the only employee. The business grew because I was dedicated to providing the best I could because I knew how happy it made people when their bike was working as good as it was designed to.

Also, if you know of any mechanics looking for work I would be happy to meet them myself. we have had challenges lately finding mechanics that are able to keep up with the pace of the nice weather we are enjoying.

Looking forward to hearing back from you.

I enjoyed reading your blog as well.

Kevin Wallace O.M.C
Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship
Founder/Owner
www.gearsbikeshop.com
kevin@gearsbikeshop.com
Mississauga • Toronto • Oakville

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Why Internal Gears are better for Commuter Bikes

The case for Internal Gears

By Smokey Dymny, Veteran Bicycle Mechanic and Teacher
Quadra Bike School


North American commuters have been led somewhat astray when it
comes to drive trains. The trend in the recent past was to design commuter
bikes derived from high performance racing bikes. Let me explain.

Most bicycle drive trains consist of external front and rear derailleurs
which change gears on front chain rings and rear cassettes. This is because
these systems are adapted from competitive road and mountain racing bikes.
Each of these bike types has external drive systems because they are light and
can have their cassettes changed rapidly to adapt the drive train to different
terrain. Their drawback is that they need to be cleaned and maintained
continually to remain efficient. Chain wear is rapid. Now, racers don’t mind
doing this continual maintenance. But most commuters don’t clean their drive
train often enough, if at all, so it deteriorates as a result.

A few decades ago there were more sensible commuter bikes available, which had internal 3-speed gearboxes in the back hub. Remember the venerable Sturmey-Archer 3-speed? What was their best feature? One thing was they could be down-shifted when at a standstill. But the real benefit was, if you added oil to the rear hub occasionally, they lasted for decades. Sure, you wore out a chain once every several years, but since it never had to shift from side to side it lasted significantly longer and required comparatively little maintenance.

So if your drive train has worn out completely and you’re going to replace all your components, rethink your commuter bike. Start thinking internal gears and try out a bike with internal gear shifts so you can see the advantages.

At the very least you could look at and test drive one of the new-generation of internal drive train bikes. They are now available in 3, 5, 8, 9, & 11 speed combinations and offer the same ease of maintenance as did the Sturmey.

You can also opt for disc brakes or internal hub brakes and eliminate constant brake pad adjustments. (Disc brakes will still need pad replacements but they stop very well in wet conditions) You can get all these options on a heavy or a light bicycle frame so shop carefully.

You should also get properly measured before you buy a new bike. Some shops are better at fitting you than others. You can measure yourself at wrenchscience.com and go to “fit system.” Then you will go shopping knowing exactly the bike fit you need.



EDITOR'S NOTE

The very first bicycle I ever restored was a blue Road King with a 3-speed internal gearbox. It was retro, but it was a dream to ride. The gear shifts were smooth, the bike required very little maintenance, it was FUN to ride, and it could go just as fast as other people on the road, if not faster... (I have a tendency to race people so I don't know if it was the bike that was fast or just me. I credit the bike.)

Internal gears are really complicated on the inside, but its a bit like the machines moving the pins around in the back of a bowling alley. What you don't know doesn't matter. It works and it doesn't require your attention beyond a little oil once a year.

So Smokey Dymny is absolutely correct. Internal gearboxes are wonderful and if you haven't tried one you should.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Shocks: Changing Suspension Fork Fluid

The suspension in the front forks of a bike takes a lot of stress. All the weight of the rider and all the bumps and bounces of the terrain travel is dissipated through the front shocks. Most bikes have either spring or hydraulic suspension, but in both cases, suspension fluid is used to help keep things moving freely and dampen the load. As a result, the fluid can become tired and less effective, resulting in the need to replace it.

Failing to replace suspension fluid will make the ride too firm and can even lead to failure of the suspension, resulting in a costly rebuild or a claim from whatever company is responsible for insuring your bike. Fortunately, changing the fork suspension oil isn’t difficult to do, although it can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so it’s a good idea to check the guidelines on your shock supplier’s website. If you have an air sprung hydraulic suspension, it is also important to remember to release any pressure from the forks before attempting to replace any fluid, otherwise it could result in permanent damage to the suspension and even injury.

Manitou Suspension

Manitou forks have one of the most common types of suspension systems, and the process for changing the fluid is very similar to other makes, but it is always important to check manufacturer’s guidelines as some suspension systems do vary.

As with most bike maintenance, when attempting to replace the fluid, it’s always easier to start by turning the bike upside down before you remove the wheel and begin messing about with the suspension. Most bikes now have a quick release skewer, which makes things so much easier for getting the front wheel off. If your bike doesn’t, you need to remove the locking bolt where it connects to the fork ends.

Removing the Forks

Once you have the front wheel off, you will need to remove the brakes from the fork, which will require an Allen socket. A lot of brake cables are attached to the forks using cable ties, these will need to be cut off and replaced when you reattach the brakes. Next, remove the mounting clamp bolts on the top of each fork blade and then carefully remove the forks. Occasionally, the forks may be stuck with dirt deposits. If this is the case, gently use a rubber mallet to loosen them, and take this opportunity to give it all a good clean.

Use a socket wrench to unscrew the caps on the bottom of the fork legs. Be careful around the seals inside the forks and top lip of the forks as damage can cause leaks when you reassemble everything. At this stage, it’s a good idea to check the seals, because if they need replacing, now would be the time to do it.

Replacing the Fluid

Once you’ve removed the caps, place a bowl under the forks and turn them over to allow the fluid to drain out. Give the forks a gentle shake to get any stubborn fluid droplets out, but not so hard that you dislodge the seals. Now refill with the recommended amount of fluid. It’s important not to under or overfill, so check with Manitou’s guidelines for the particular forks on your bike.

Replace the caps on the end of the forks, and then slide the forks back into the mounting clamps. Tighten the mounting bolts back down, then slide the wheel back into the forks and tighten it back with the release skewer. Make sure you test the suspension play before taking the bike out, but if done correctly, there should be no problems.

Fox Forks

Fox forks are fast becoming mainstream suspension systems. More and more bikers are turning to them due to the quality and performance. However, this comes at a cost as the assembly of the suspension system varies greatly to other front fork systems. While the process for removing the forks is the same as for suspension systems such as Manitou, replacing the actual fluid in Fox forks is notoriously difficult.

The problem with Fox forks is that to change the suspension fluid you have to remove the lockout lever and red rebound adjuster on the shock absorber. For this, Fox sell specific damper removal tools, but caution still needs to be taken, as it is all too easy to turn the rebound damper past the end of its adjustment when you put it back on. If this happens, it can stick, which will require you to disassemble the entire damper system to get it unstuck. With Fox forks, it’s best to adjust the rebound to approximately the middle of its range and keep it there.

Another word of caution with Fox forks is to keep an eye on the little ball bearings inside the lockout lever, which are held in place by screws, and are very easily lost when taking apart the lockout lever. Fox do have a comprehensive guide on the Fox website to assist with any servicing, and the below video may also be of use:

Why do my tires leak during the winter?

By Smokey Dymny, Veteran Bicycle Mechanic and Teacher
Quadra Bike School


Yes, spring’s just about here and you’re ready to ride again. Before you pump up your tires, let’s check a few things first.

You may be asking "Why are these tires so soft when the bike sat still all winter?"

The answer is: rubber always leaks whether you are riding or not. If your tires are completely flat you may have to check the tubes for a pinch flat. Next winter hang the bicycle up or stand it upside down so it isn’t standing on the tires. The tires will still lose pressure but you can prevent tube damage.

Before you start pumping squeeze the sides of the tires together checking all around the circumference and look for cracks in the rubber. Pull out any sharp objects that may be stuck in the cracks. If the tire cracks are deep enough to show white at the bottom you are looking at the tire casing which is the inner cloth layer of the tire which gives the tire its shape, flexibility and strength. If you can see this casing you’d better replace your tire because it is worn out. It’s also worn if the sidewalls are deeply cracked or if the tire tread is worn down to the casing. If the tire isn’t worn in any of these ways then inflate it to the maximum pressure listed on the sidewall and ride.

Yet worn tires may be a good thing because you can replace them with better ones for your future rides. Many people were sold mountain bikes or fat-tired hybrids for commuting because those are the bikes people feel safer on at first. New riders often think that fat tires will be safer on the streets.

Another common misconception is that knobby tires are good for traction. Yes, they are good for traction, but only on dirt. Unless you ride through forests and fields on your way to work, you will be riding the streets on the equivalent of a tractor tire. This is causing you lots of extra effort. As a matter of fact your whole mountain bike was designed for off road riding. But don’t despair. You don’t need to switch bikes right away, just change those knobbies for something useful.

My wife’s hybrid bike had fat, 26” low knob tires and I replaced them with completely slick (smooth), high quality “Kojack” tires by Schwalbe. She was afraid that a completely slick tire would be unsafe but after just one day, she was sold. Her ride to work was faster with no extra effort. One reason is that slicks have a greater contact patch with the road.

Think about it.

A smooth tire touches the road with it’s whole surface, even if it’s only 2 square inches. A knobby tire only touches the road with the tops of the knobs on that same two inches. So the slick has better contact for traction and braking. The second reason to upgrade is that higher quality tires have a better casing (the cloth under the rubber) so they can take higher pressure. Higher pressure translates into more speed. The better tires are made with better rubber compounds, which give you increased traction when cornering and better braking too. If your safety in traffic depends on the little patches of rubber making contact with the road, why would you buy cheap tires?

If your bike was a hybrid with 700c wheels you can trade up to even narrower tires. If you had 700c tires with 32 to 35 centimeter widths, try a slick with a 25 cm width. You’ll be fairly flying down the road! Of course don’t forget to keep pumping up your new tires every week. All rubber leaks slowly. And high pressure means speed. You will also get fewer flats when your tires are hard.

NOTE

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