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Bicycle maintenance made ridiculously easy

From zero to hero all the things an absolute beginner

needs to know to look after their own bike

Checklists Repairs Automate

 Every ride  Clean  How to automate
 Monthly  Lubricate your bike
 Fix a flat maintenance and
 Check for chain wear make your life
 Adjusting V brakes easier
 Adjust rear derailleur
 Adjust front derailleur
 Fixing stiff link in chain

Version 1.1

By http://www.londoncyclist.co.uk/
Every Ride 20 seconds
A basic toolkit that will get
you a long way...
Check tyres
If you can push down on them with your thumb
then they need pumping up
A mini pump is always very useful to have with you
and will not take up much space.

Puncture repair kit

Check brakes No bike owner should be without. Punctures
Give the brake levers a squeeze and happen to everyone. The kit you buy should include
check the brakes are working. Also tyre levers to make your life ten times easier.
glance down at the brake pads to
check they are aligned with the rim. Allen key
Essential for most bike tweaking. 4, 5 and 6mm
being the most common.

Check quick releases and bolts For all the bolts on your bike.
Be sure any quick releases and bolts
are firmly secured Lubricant
I highly recommend Finish Line which is perfect for
most parts of the bike in a wet climate. Don’t use
Monthly 30 minutes

Clean bike Frame
Check the full range of
Give the bike a Inspect the frame for any
gears and see if the
complete clean cracks or major dents. Also
chain shifts easily when
check cables for any fraying
you change gear

Lubricate bike Inspect accessories

Pedals and arms
Complete a full Check for loose
Try to wobble them and
bicycle lubrication accessories, any batteries
check they are held firmly
after having that need replacing etc
cleaned it

Wheels Handlebars
Give them a spin and check Lift the bike and twist the
Check it is held
they don’t wobble side to side handlebars. If they turn
secure and aligned
majorly. Also check the rims smoothly and without any
are not damaged or heavily resistance all is well. Also
worn check for looseness.

Brakes Chain
Check for worn brake pads. See Check for heavy chain
Check for worn or
if the brakes are squealing when wear including rust
cracked tyres.
you use them. When the brake
levers are pulled halfway the
brakes should be fully engaged
Use a brush to scrub the rear
Use a wet brush to scrub the
derailleur. Again use a
chain. Work your way into
each chain link screwdriver to get any
stubborn dirt out.

Cleaning your Run the chain through a The chainrings can be

damp cloth. If the chain has cleaned in a similar fashion.
bike still not come clean then Use your brush with warm
spray on some degreaser. water and then a toothbrush
This is the simple way to
Allow it to set. Then brush to get to the hard to reach
keep a bike clean without
the chain to remove any dirt places. Again use a cloth in a
any special tools. Doing this
and finally run it through the flossing motion to get any
task at least once a month
cloth again. You should not dirt trapped in-between the
will really help keep your
leave any degreaser on the different parts.
bike running smoothly.
chain as it can damage it.

Use a wet brush to clean the To clean the frame use a

You will need: rear sprockets and derailleur. damp cloth. Avoid using
Again use degreaser if cleaning liquid as it contains
Brush, old toothbrush, particularly mucky. salt which can rust the frame.
small flat file, bucket with
warm water and rags. Also
if the bike is particularly Use a narrow screwdriver to The wheel rims should be
dirty then a degreaser is get in-between each cleaned with a clean dry
very useful. sprocket as there is likely to cloth. The brake pads
be a lot of trapped dirt in themselves should also be
there. A toothbrush can also cleaned with a dry cloth.
be effective here.
It is important also to get to
Use a damp cloth in a flossing the grooves in the brake pads
motion to get in-between by using a small flat file or
each sprocket and remove blade.
any dirt.
Spin the chain and apply one
Don’t apply too
drop per pin of lube as it
much lube on
spins between each chain
the jockey
link. Spread the lube by
wheel as it gets
shifting between all the
Lubricating different gears
a lot of it from
the chain
your bike
Use your
fingers to work
After cleaning your bike the
in some lube in
second most important task Use your
the points
you can do is keeping it fingers to work
lubricated. This prevents in some lube in
rust and keeps things the points
running smoothly. You shown
should only lubricate your Brake and shift cables also
bike when it is clean. need lubricating. Remove
the cable from its housing
and work in a tiny bit of Give the lube 5 minutes to
You will need:
lube with your fingers dry and then use a dry cloth
Lubricant – don’t use WD- to wipe away any excess.
40. Make sure you get Any lubricant that is needed
some proper bicycle The rear will have sunk in and the
lubricant such as this one. derailleur also rest will just gather dirt
lubrication to
keep working
Release the brakes Check the outside of
so that you can the tyre for any
remove the wheel. debris. If there are
then remove them.
Fix a flat
Part 1
If the puncture is on
Flat tyres happen to the front wheel then
everyone. Keep your use the quick release Release any air left
puncture repair kit with you or a wrench to inside the tyre by
or a spare inner tube. Once remove the wheel. pushing down on the
you have repaired your first Turn in an anti- valve head.
puncture you will never look clockwise direction
back! to loosen.

If it is the rear wheel If you don’t have tyre

then use the quick levers then work your
You will need: release or a wrench way around the wheel
but this time pull the with your thumbs
Puncture repair kit – one
derailleur backwards pushing the tyre off the
with tyre levers is
and push the jockey rim.
preferable or buy these
wheel forwards. This
will give you With tyre levers start on the opposite side of where the
Bicycle pump clearance so you can valve is. Tuck in one of the levers under the tyre and hook
lift the wheel out the tyre lever under the spokes. Do the same with another
Wrench – to release the and forwards. tyre lever. Repeat this process with a third tyre lever.
wheels. You may have a
Remove the middle one and tuck it under the tyre after
quick release.
the third lever. Repeat this process until the tyre is
possible to remove by hand.
If there is a nut Apply a layer of the glue
holding the inner that comes with the
tube in position near puncture repair kit. You
the valve then undo should apply more than
it. Pull out the inner what will be needed by
tube. Then the patch and allow it to
Fix a flat thoroughly inspect dry.
Part 2 the tyre inside and
out for anything that
may have caused the Remove the metal part
puncture. of the patch and don’t
touch the sticky part.
The fun part is
finding the puncture.
Pump up the inner
tube and listen for a
hissing sound.
Failing that use your
Apply the patch to the
lips near the inner
area of the puncture.
tube to feel for any
air escaping. You can
also try submerging
the inner tube in
water to watch for
escaping bubbles.
Having found the Press the patch down
puncture don’t lose firmly to remove any air.
it! Use the abrasive
paper that came
with your puncture
repair kit to scrape
the area.
Pump a small Refit the front wheel by
amount of air into placing it back into slots.
the inner tube to Tighten back on the bolts
give it some shape. or quick release. The
Then push the valve quick release lever should
through the hole. feel tough to push back
Fix a flat Push the inner tube into the secure position. It
Part 3 back inside the tyre. should leave an imprint
on your palm.
Go to the opposite
side of the valve and If replacing the rear wheel
fold the tyre back then push the jockey
over the rim. Work wheel forward and pull
your way around the the derailleur backwards.
tyre. This can be a Place the wheel so that
little tough. When the sprockets are within
you get stuck the chain loop. Tighten
remove any air from the bolt or quick release.
the inner tube. Only Finally re-fit the brakes
if you are really and check the wheel spins
struggling then use freely without touching
the tyre levers to the brake pads. Also test
out your brakes to make
sure all is working.
Check the inner tube is underneath the
tyre around the whole wheel as if it is
caught it will get punctured. Push the
valve up into the tyre so that it almost
disappears to be sure it is not caught. If
there is a nut on the valve screw it back
on. Pump up the tyre until it is not
possible to push down with your thumb.
The easiest way to Complete chain link
measure for chain is shown to the left.
wear is to measure
the length of 12
links. These should
Check for chain measure 12 inches.
wear Place the 0 mark at
the centre of one the
A heavily worn out chain pins. Then count 12
will cause major damage to complete links.
the drivetrain which is
expensive to replace.
Therefore it is worth
checking for chain wear and If the pin is less than
replacing the chain before 1/16th of an inch
problems occur. (1.6mm) past the
mark then the chain
You will need: is fine.

12 inch ruler If it is between 1/16th

of an inch and 1/8th
To make this job easier you
(3.2mm) of an inch
can also purchase a chain
then it needs
wear tool which only costs
around £5 and I highly
recommend. Any more than 1/8th
on an inch and you
may need to replace
the chain and rear
Loosen the bolt holding Fit the brake pad into
the brake pad in place position and add the
then remove it and the remaining washers to the
washers. other side. Then loosely
tighten the nut with your
Allen key. This will allow you
Adjust V brakes Check the brake pad
to manoeuvre them into the
correct position at a later
Part 1 surface. As you can see
the top one is
Brakes need adjusting when completely worn out. In
Set the position of the brake
they are squealing, they the worn out one the
pad so that it does not touch
have worn out, the stopping grooves have completely
the tyre and it does not hang-
power is reduced or they disappeared.
off the side of the rim when
are touching against the rim
the brakes are applied. Also
as the wheel spins round.
the pad should meet the rim
This repair is fiddly to do
at 90 degrees.
but everyone needs to do it You should check the
at some stage. new brake pads to see if
You may also need to do
Note: some brakes use they come with any
something called “toeing-
cartridge pads so only the specific installation
in”. Where the front of the
rubber section needs instructions. This is
pad which faces in the
replacing instead of the important as it can vary.
direction the bike travels
entire unit. You can also use your should be slightly closer to
existing brake pads as the rim than the back. Not all
You will need: guidance to how the v-brakes require toeing in;
new pads should be you only need to do so if they
New brake pads – similar
installed. squeal when applied. To toe
to your current ones
in the brakes simply push the
The curved washers tend front of the pad further in
Allen key
to sit touching the brake than the back before
arms. tightening the nut.
Finally tighten the nut If more adjustment is needed
firmly. Tightening the nut than the barrel adjuster can
can be tricky as when you provide then loosen the
are tightening it the pad cable clamp bolt. Then either
will attempt to move. Try release cable or pull more
holding it in place with cable in. Finally retighten the
your other hand. bolt and test the wheels spin
Adjust V brakes without touching the pad.
Test it is tight enough by
Part 2 trying to twist the pads
by hand. If you can twist It may take a while before
them then you need to the brake pads reach their
tighten it further. full braking potential. At first
cycle slowly to work them in.
You should also test the
If the wheel is touching brakes a few times after
the rim as it spins round replacement to be sure they
due to the new pads then are tightly fastened and
you need to adjust the working correctly.
brake cable tension.
It is also worth wiping down
Usually the rim should sit
the rim surface to be sure
2-3mm away from the
they have a good braking
pad. If only a small
adjustment is needed
then this can be done by Always aim to have a clean
twisting the barrel brake pad and rim surface as
adjuster. otherwise both will wear
You should adjust the
cable tension so that
when the brake levers are
applied halfway the
brakes are fully engaged.
Gear shifting problems can If you notice problems then
often be caused by kinked or adjustment is needed. First
damaged cable and housing. identify which one is the high
Use your hand to feel the and which one is the low
entire length of the cables for screw. These should be
any problems. If there are marked with a small H and L.
then these will need
Adjust rear replacing.
The high limit screw controls
the smallest sprocket. The
derailleur It is also a good idea to low limit screw controls the
Part 1 lubricate the gear cables. Do largest sprocket. If you
this near the housing tighten these then
Some of the signs that openings in particular. movement is restricted. If
things are not quite right you loosen them then you
with the rear derailleur are: provide more freedom.
The high and low limit screws
1. Excessive noise when stop the chain from falling off The target here is to find the
gear shifting the edge of the cassette. tightest screw setting that
will allow access to all the
2. Not been able to shift To check for problems shift
into certain gears through the entire range of
gears on the front and back. If Before making adjustments
3. Gears shifting on their you find it hard to shift into we need to release the cable
own the more extreme gear from its cable stop to
4. Slow gear shifting configurations i.e. the highest prevent misdiagnosing the
and lowest then it is likely the problem. To see how to do
end stop screws are this proceed to the next step.
You will need:
incorrectly configured.
Allen key
Alternatively you may also
Screwdriver notice that the chain looks
like it is about to fall off the
edge of the sprocket.
Shift into the largest rear Remember to make
sprocket by pedalling. adjustments in small
Then stop pedalling and quarter turn increments
shift back a couple of and then re-test by putting
gears towards the the gear cable back into its
smaller sprockets. This original position, spin the
will give plenty of cable pedals and change the
Adjust rear slack so you can pull the gears.
derailleur gear cable out of its
The L screw adjusts the
cable stop.
Part 2 largest cog preventing the
chain from falling off the
Now we are all set we side of it which could cause
can adjust the screw serious damage.
labelled H.
Shift into the largest
Shift into the large front chainring at the front and
chainring and the smallest rear cog.
smallest rear cog.
If it is leaning too far off
If you are having the top of the largest cog
problems with the chain then you need to restrict
coming off the smallest its movement. Do this by
rear cog and dropping to tightening the L screw.
the side then you need
to tighten (clockwise) If you are having the
the H screw. opposite problem whereby
you are not able to shift
If you can’t shift into the into the largest cog then
smallest rear cog then you need to loosen the
you need to loosen it screw slightly.
(counter-clockwise) to
allow more movement. Test and continue to adjust
in small increments.
Once you are done with Be sure there is no more
adjustments and have clicks you can possibly
tested you can access all do on the gear shifter.
the gears without the Then shift back a gear. If
chain falling off the edge it moves smoothly from
then work in a tiny bit of one cog to the next then
lube into the screws. that is a good thing and
Adjust rear you don’t need to make
Wipe away any excess
derailleur with a rag and be sure
these adjustments.

Part 3 you have replaced the If it doesn’t or shifts very

gear cable back into its slowly then the cable
original position in the tension needs increasing.
cable stop. Turn it a quarter turn
counter-clockwise to do
so from the barrel
You can make
adjustments to the cable
tension through the Alternatively you may
barrel adjuster. This face the opposite
affects how well all the problem where the chain
gears perform. tries to over-shift (i.e.
the chain tries to skip a
Switch into the large
sprocket) If you notice
chainring at the front.
this as you change gear
Then at the rear switch
then you need to
to the smallest sprocket.
decrease the cable
tension. Give the barrel
adjuster a small
clockwise turn and test
If major adjustment is One important thing to
needed then you may note is that the gear
need to loosen the cable shifting is likely to
fixing bolt to adjust the respond slightly
amount of cable differently when you are
available. If the problem out riding a bike. Do
is that the chain is some test runs and
Adjust rear struggling to shift into diagnose any problems
derailleur the next gear then you to correct later when
will need to reduce the you get back home.
Part 4 amount of slack in the
If you are still having
major problems then
Pull more cable through you may need to consult
and then retest to see if an expert. This can be
gear shifting has due to incompatible
improved. components.

Alternatively you need to

provide more cable slack
if you notice over-

Test out the rest of the

gears and make
adjustments when
problems arise following
the steps above to
increase or decrease
cable tension.
Remember to make
small changes.
The final adjustment that can be
made is to the b-screw. This
positions the derailleur angle in
comparison to the rear dropout.

To adjust shift into largest rear

Adjust rear sprocket and smallest chainring.
derailleur Then look at the bike from behind to
see the distance between the guide
Part 5 pulley and the largest sprocket.

This screw will need adjusting if

there is too large a gap between the
pulley and sprocket or if the two are
rubbing against each other.

Ideally the two should be just clear of

each other.

In the unlikely event this does need

adjusting turn the b-screw clockwise,
increasing the tension and thus
moving the pulley away from the
sprocket. Otherwise if there is a large
gap between the two then loosen
the b-screw until they come very
The first thing to check is Another thing to check
the height and angle of the before making adjustment
front derailleur. is the angle. The best way
to view this is from above.
Start by shifting the front
Picture an imaginary line
derailleur so that the edge
coming from the middle of
of the cage is positioned
the derailleur cage. This
Adjust front above the largest chainring.
should be lined up with the
This will allow you to see
derailleur the correct height
chain rings.

Part 1 adjustment.
To adjust the derailleur
If you are experiencing poor The height and angle is
height and angle simply
shifting or the chain is sometimes pre-set on a
loosen slightly the bolt
falling off either side of the front derailleur depending
holding the clamp in place
chainrings as you pedal on the type you have.
using your Allen key.
then you may need to
adjust your front derailleur. Then wiggle it around to
You can use a penny to
get the correct adjustment.
Before completing this check to see if there is
Then retighten.
repair you should first about 1 to 2 mm of
adjust your rear derailleur. clearance between the The next adjustment that
outer cage and the highest can be made is to the limit
point of the biggest screws. These keep the
You will need:
chainring. chain in position so that it
Allen key does not fall off either side
If there is not enough
of the chainrings.
Screwdriver clearance or more likely
there is too much then you You should only adjust
need to adjust this. them if you are having
problems with shifting into
the highest and lowest
chainrings or the chain is
falling off.
The screws should be Now do the same for the
marked with L and H. L is high gear limit screw. Shift
for the smallest chainring the bike between each
and H is for the largest. chainring. If you notice the
chain dropping off the top
of the large chainring then
tighten the high limit screw
Adjust front by ¼ of a turn.
First let’s work on the
derailleur lower limit screw marked L.
Alternatively if the chain is
Part 2 Shift your bike between having trouble shifting onto
each chainring. If it drops the largest chainring then
off the lower chainring and you need to loosen it by ¼
onto the frame then you of a turn.
need to tighten the L
Test your adjustments by
screw. Turn it clockwise a ¼
running through the full
turn. Then try again.
range of gear changes on
Alternatively it is having the front and back.
trouble shifting onto the
Note that even on a
smallest chainring then you
properly adjusted bike the
need to loosen it by ¼ of a chain will slightly rub
turn. Then try it again.
against the derailleur in the
highest and lowest gear
configurations. This is not
something to worry about.
Cable tension is also worth You should also check the
checking. Shift into the cable for any problems
largest sprocket in the rear such as broken strands or
and smallest chainring at fraying as this too can
the front. cause problems with
Then loosen the cable
Adjust front clamp bolt and tighten the The final test to do is to run
cable so there is no through the full range of
derailleur additional slack. Then gears and see if they
Part 3 retighten the bolt. respond well. If they don’t
go back and make
The right cable tension will
adjustments where
mean you are able to shift
gears with any delays or
problems. To check this,
shift between all the
chainrings and check that it
is able to change smoothly.

The barrel adjuster can also

be used to make minor
adjustments to the cable
tension. A counter-
clockwise turn will tighten
the cable.
You will know a stiff link Also work the stiff link in
has occurred because as the motion shown above. If
you are cycling the pedals this doesn’t fix the problem
will slip forward regularly. then you will need to use
the chain tool. Proceed to
Finding a stiff link is easy.
Fixing stiff link Turn your bike upside
the next step.

down. Change into the

Position the chain in the
lowest sprocket on the rear
slot of the chain tool that is
Another cause of shifting and the largest chain ring
nearest the handle. If one
problems is having a stiff on the front.
side of the chain pin is
link in the chain. This is very
A stiff link can be identified protruding more than you
easy to correct.
by seeing which one should place that side
You may need: struggles to pass through nearest the handle.
the derailleur. Spin the
Chain tool Line up the chain pin
chain round a couple more
precisely with the chain
times to be sure of the
tool handle. This is
offending link.
important so that the chain
pin is pushed out smoothly.

This problem can Then turn the chain tool

sometimes be solved by handle until it reaches the
flexing the stiff link chain pin. When it does
backwards and forwards give it only a 1/3 of a turn.
using your thumbs around
Remove the tool and move
the troublesome link.
the chain around to see if it
is still stiff. Try to compare
this to the other links. If it
is still not moving around
freely repeat the process
but on the other side of the
Automating your bike maintenance
and making your life easier

Bicycle maintenance can often be seen as one of those chores Checklist

you never get round to. I frequently used to say to myself: “Ah The second trick is to have a checklist like the one I have
I’ll give it a clean next week”. Usually next week never came provided you with in this eBook. Then I can simply work
round and I ended up with a worn out bike I didn’t want any through it without forgetting anything. I find this speeds
more. things along.

Luckily bikes don’t need much time, only 30 minutes out of Little and often
43,829 that are available in a month. In return you’ll save
money, components will last longer and best of all you will get My final trick is to keep myself motivated by reminding myself
a smoother, noise free ride. that the little bit of effort I’m putting in now will save me many
hours of hassle later on.
I have a couple of techniques for making sure I don’t skimp on
my monthly maintenance that have worked wonders. I I hope this helps and saves you some money in bike repairs,
wanted to share these with you as hopefully it will save you
some time and make your life easier.
Put it in the calendar!

The first thing I did was make sure there is a certain day every
month that I set aside some time to perform my maintenance
routine. Then I never have to think about it. A little beep goes
off on my phone and I know what needs to be done. I
recommend doing the same with your phone, computer or
paper based calendar.

By http://www.londoncyclist.co.uk/
Where to from here?

Reading iPhone Websites

If you’re looking to expand your knowledge If you are on the iPhone then I’ve released Online is a great place to expand your
of bicycle maintenance then there are three an application called Bike Doctor. It takes knowledge of bikes. You really only need
books I can highly recommend. you through step-by-step as above through two websites when you are starting.
20 repairs. Each one comes with a color
The first is The Ultimate Guide to Bicycle The first is Bicycle Tutor which has an
picture. It is perfect because you can carry it
Maintenance. Which I reviewed on London enormous collection of well narrated videos
with you at all times and use it whenever
Cyclist. It is very easy to follow and great that take you through each repair. I can’t
there is a problem.
for beginners. recommend this resource enough. The web
To find out more about Bike Doctor head to address is: www.bicycletutor.com
The second is The Bike Book which is
the blog post on London Cyclist about it or
popular book available from Amazon.co.uk The second is the Park Tool website. It has
download the App now.
very in-depth instructions and clear
Finally Park Tools Big Blue Book of Bicycle
illustrations to talk you through common
Repair is known and trusted by many bike
repairs. When I was learning I constantly
mechanics. It is available from
had this website open in the background.
The web address is: www.parktool.com

This Guide is by LondonCyclist.co.uk Head to the site to get more great articles about your
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