Another month, another copy of Bicycling magazine I have repeatedly cancelled. When will they stop sending me this? Normally, I just take this down to the shop for our library (where they sit unread and unopened). This time something caught my attention. Breathless exclamation at the top of the cover:
THE 101 BEST MAINTENANCE TIPS EVER PAGE 57
Wait. Where is the exclamation mark? OK, maybe not breathless. But flirting with hyperbole. Best? Ever? I skeptically opened to page 57, averting my eyes from the tiresome advertisements for carbon and lycra. Glossy enticements featuring all things racing. Meh. So much for an open mind.
Pleasant surprise. Some of this is not bad. Some blinding flashes of the obvious. Some things I take exception to or think could have been stated differently. Very little technique — mostly what with a little how.
Good Rules of Thumb
Started off pretty good.
No. 1 Never loan tools to friends.
No. 2 If it’s threaded grease it.
No. 3 You can’t properly adjust a bicycle that is dirty and not lubricated
No. 4 Perfect the art of changing a flat. No excuses.
No. 7 When disassembling something, keep track of the order in which you remove parts. It takes the mystery out of putting it back together.
OK, they won me over. I see people learn the lesson of number 7 time and time again. However, number 2 is likely to kick off debate between mechanics. Some people believe there are important exceptions to that suggestion (check out tips number 12 and 16 about cranks). And can I get an Amen! for number 4?
Respect Your Mechanic
No. 21 Don’t be a hero. Whether it’s due to lack of knowledge or experience, or not having the proper tools for the job, you are not capable of every repair. Sometimes you have to take your problem to a professional.
No. 22 Find out what your shop mechanic’s favorite afternoon munchie is, then bring it along the next time you stop in for a repair. (mine is beer, just saying)
No. 23 It doesn’t matter how you broke it. Just don’t lie to your bike mechanic.
No. 24 Never roll your bike into the shop and expect an on-the-spot repair. You don’t what your mechanic is up against on any given day. (or roll into a community bike shop with a complex repair and expect to roll back out)
No. 34 Do not use a solvent to lube your chain.
No. 70 Chains and cogs wear together.
No. 71 If you don’t have a chain checker, go find a ruler. When 24 links of your chain measure more than 12 1/16 inches from rivet to rivet, it’s time to replace your chain. Once that measurement reaches 12 1/8, your cogset is likely shot as well. (well maybe…be careful of dogma)
No. 79 When breaking a chain with a chain tool, do not push the pin all the way through (unless you’re using a special replacement pin). You won’t be able to get it back in.
No 82. Not all chain lubricants are the same. Choose the one that best suits your riding conditions.
No. 85 Apply lube to the chain’s rollers, not its side plates.
No. 88 Never clean the greasy film off a new chain. It’s better than what you’ll put on later. Start your lube habit after the factory grease has worn off, which usually takes about two rides. (YES!)
And Much Much More
Lots of other tips in there. A pretty good how-to on wrapping handlebars. And an acceptable primer on how to true a wheel without a truing stand. Hint: you use your brakes. My problem with this kind of advice is it can trivialize wheel maintenance. Spot truing is one thing; diagnosing and fixing more insidious issues is another. But it’s pretty good for simple truing.
Check out the article. Good stuff here (but if you ever tell the magazine staff I said that, I’ll deny it). And remember:
No. 15 If your bike makes a noise, it’s trying to tell you something. Don’t ignore it.