Author Topic: Essential Bike Knowledge  (Read 2787 times)

MgoSam

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3643
  • Location: Minnesota
Essential Bike Knowledge
« on: June 10, 2015, 02:54:32 PM »
Ok, I learned how to ride a bike when I was a little kid but little else. I bought a bike a few years ago used, a friend of mine is a huge biker and helped me find it on craigslist, negotiated the price and checked it out with me, it is a fast road bike. He is now out of the country. I don't have any friends that bike on a regular basis.

I am going to be taking my bike to a local shop to get a tune up. I live about a 9 mile bike ride from my office according to Google Map, and most of it is on a bike trail, I want to start biking to work but am nervous as I hardly bike now. I can park my car at work overnight, so am planning on driving to work with my bike, and bike home and then bike to work in the morning as a way of easing into it.

My question is, what bike knowledge should I learn? I don't know anything about bike maintenance besides keeping tires properly inflated, and would be biking with some shorts, and a shirt I use to run in. Please help me out, I realize that much of biking is common sense, but I don't really know how to ask.

jeromedawg

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2931
  • Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Essential Bike Knowledge
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2015, 03:18:53 PM »
Ok, I learned how to ride a bike when I was a little kid but little else. I bought a bike a few years ago used, a friend of mine is a huge biker and helped me find it on craigslist, negotiated the price and checked it out with me, it is a fast road bike. He is now out of the country. I don't have any friends that bike on a regular basis.

I am going to be taking my bike to a local shop to get a tune up. I live about a 9 mile bike ride from my office according to Google Map, and most of it is on a bike trail, I want to start biking to work but am nervous as I hardly bike now. I can park my car at work overnight, so am planning on driving to work with my bike, and bike home and then bike to work in the morning as a way of easing into it.

My question is, what bike knowledge should I learn? I don't know anything about bike maintenance besides keeping tires properly inflated, and would be biking with some shorts, and a shirt I use to run in. Please help me out, I realize that much of biking is common sense, but I don't really know how to ask.

Check Youtube for starters. Also, there's a *ton* of great info at Sheldon Brown's site: sheldonbrown.com

Are you commuting on streets? Or MUP/off-street trail? Or a combination of both?

Probably the most essential thing you can learn how to do first is to change a tube and or tire. It's probably good practice just to figure out and learn how to take off both the front and rear wheels to start. Then learn how to remove the tire and tube. Learning how to patch a tube as well - this of course is easier said than done and you won't really know how to do it until you actually get a flat yourself and experience it. Basic bike tuning really isn't as hard as it seems - I'm still learning and consider myself a noob! Youtube has been my definitive guide ever since. I've learned how change a tube/tire, adjust spoke tension (still learning this and need to adjust mine actually), adjust brakes and calipers, adjust the derailleur, remove the chain and clean it, etc.. Just start with the wheels first and go from there. It starts getting kind of addictive working on your bike once you get into it. Between here, Bikeforums and Youtube, you can find tons of great advice :) I would say to invest in a few bike tools - a bike multi-tool, chain breaker, tire levers, and hex wrench set to start out.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2015, 03:24:16 PM by jplee3 »

TrMama

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3033
Re: Essential Bike Knowledge
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2015, 03:26:09 PM »
When you're just starting out, you really just need to know how to change a tire. You also need to carry a spare tube, tire levers and a pump. You'll need to put some oil on the chain once in a while.

If you ride it in the rain, you'll need to clean the chain and gears with degreaser (to get the sand off) and then re-lube. MMM tip: Get plain degreaser and a tile brush from the cleaning isle at Home Depot, rather than spending a ton on these items from a bike shop.

You shouldn't need any more maintenance than that for quite a while. Keep an eye on the brake pads (I assume this bike has rim brakes) and change the pads before they wear away completely an the brake shoes (the metal things that hold the pads) start grinding against the rims.

matchewed

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4334
  • Location: CT
Re: Essential Bike Knowledge
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2015, 04:17:50 PM »

vhalros

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 309
Re: Essential Bike Knowledge
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2015, 04:20:44 PM »
In addition to what TrMama mentioned, I'd say you should really know how and when to adjust the brakes. As the pads wear down, you'll need to take some length out of the cable, and you will have to realign them sometimes. Its very easy; takes 5 minutes, an allen key, and a screw driver.

Not maintenance related, but learn how to brake effectively: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html

oneday

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2588
  • Location: SF Bay Area, USA
  • Resilient as fuck -J_Oden
Re: Essential Bike Knowledge
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2015, 05:45:06 PM »
First of all, take that bike out & give it a whirl on a non-commute day.  Just see how it feels & maybe something specific will come up; if it does, then ask here.

Also, take it one step at a time. There's a lot of info here, take your time to read & decide what to tackle first & get that under your belt before moving on.  As you ride more, I think it will become apparent to you what you want to focus on next.

I learn best from books, so I'm going to recommend Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance, by Lennard Zinn.  It covers probably way more than you want to know, but it's also broken down into micro-sections.  I read the whole thing like a novel when I got it, but I'm weird like that.  It's really a reference manual.

For example, this weekend I looked up the How to Clean the Bike section, so I would know where all the holes in the frame & critical grease points were.  It was under a page long.  Also, the illustrations are fantastic!

You have a lot of advice from everyone on the maintenance part.  Here's some other stuff that might be helpful:

You are lucky that you can ride on that trail.  That takes a lot of the stress out of riding.  My biggest issue is with traffic. It's scary!  In my state (CA), bikes are required to ride on the right side of the road, in the street, and obey all traffic laws.  Those over 16 are not required to wear a helmet, although it is a good idea & most do wear them. You may want to check out the cycling laws in your area.

Let's see...gear. For a 9 mile ride, you may want to carry water with you. Probably you have a mount or two for a water bottle cage, if you don't already have the cages installed.  They just screw on, so you can do that yourself.  Or carry it in a backpack or strap it to a rack.

Shorts with padding are probably advisable.  I only go <3 miles at a time, so just wear street clothes.  Other than the shorts, you can get away with street clothes for the rest.  Unless you have fancy pedals & want to clip in; then you need fancy shoes.  Not required, but nice if you want to a smidge go faster.

Most other gear is optional; it just makes your ride a little nicer, more efficient or just plain fancier.  For example, you can get away with a regular windbreaker, but the bicycle-specific ones have a longer back to cover the gap above your waistband, where a normal shirt ends when you are leaning over the handlebars.  Depending on what you already have, you may not need (want) that.

I am finding that I get real sweaty on my back when wearing a backpack; this is only going to get worse as the summer wears on.  So am now looking into racks/baskets/panniers.  Sounds like this may not be an issue for you if you are changing when you get to work, but thought I'd mention it.

Later on you might need to look into lights/reflectors, but with the daylight lasting so long, this may not be an issue for you.  The other thing you might need later on is rain gear.

Spare tube, patch kit, tire levers & pump are required.  There are some other basic tools (allen wrenches etc.) that are good to carry, but if you don't know what to do with them, they're not going to help you.  So get the tools as you learn what they are for.  They sell little under-seat bags that can hold these items, but they could also go in a backpack or wherever.

There's a lot of stuff you can get for your bike...I think you already have the very most essential gear & pointers for the most essential maintenance.  Enjoy the journey!