Get Out! Basic training
Knowing how to do basic bike maintenance a good skill to develop
Squeeeeeeee. Squeak squeak squeak. Ping! Rattattatatatat! What IS that noise? Many times I’ve had to stop on the trail after asking myself this question. Is it a brake rubbing? A shifter problem? Is my chain dirty? If you find yourself asking these questions frequently, you may be in need of some basic bike maintenance.
Maintaining your bike is just like putting gas in the car. It’s one of those things none of us truly wants to take the time to do, but if you don’t do it, you’ll soon regret it! I’m lucky enough to have someone who takes care of those sorts of things, but when I need to, I at least know the basics. I can put air in the tires, fix a flat, clean and lube the chain, check the air pressure in my shock and fork, and stop a rubbing disc brake if need be. Still, it’s always good to have a reminder of some maintenance tips and tricks.
First, get comfortable with a local bike shop (LBS for short). There are plenty in town to choose from and, should you get in over your head with maintenance or have a repair that’s beyond your skill level, it’s good to already have a familiar place to take your bike. Even if you live in Fruita or Palisade, there’s a LBS close by to help you out.
Second, know the parts of your bike. Get familiar with forks, stanchions, shocks, cassettes, chains, wheels, tires, grips, brake levers, shifters, derailleurs, etc. Even if you can’t fix the issue you’re having, it’s better to walk into the bike shop saying “The bike isn’t shifting correctly. Could there be a problem with the derailleur,” than, “I think the whatchamacallit is messing with my shifting.”
Third, know some bike maintenance basics. Whether you learn it from a friend, a video online, or your bike shop repair guy, it’s good to know how to solve some bike problems on your own. You should know how to fix a flat tire so that when you’re halfway around Western Rim you don’t have to try to hike out just because of a flat. Knowing how to get by with a broken spoke in the middle of a ride and what to do about a broken chain can definitely save your ride too.
Fourth, have a repair kit with you at all times so that you can perform the above repair tasks if you need to. Our kits include: spare tubes (we run tubeless tires, but sometimes a tube is still the easiest way to fix a flat), a patch kit, a multitool, quick links for specific chain sizes, a pump, zip ties (always useful, especially if a cable is rubbing) and even a few bolts and nuts. Park tire boots are also handy in case of a cut tire (it’s happened!) It’s better to be a little over-prepared in this department. In the past we’ve had issues with flat tires, broken cables and even lost cleat screws in bike shoes. Talk about a sticky situation.
It’s spring! Enjoy it as much as you can! Take care of yourself and your bike, and get out!