Check over your bicycle Before you go ride
Is the bicycle safe to ride? Here are some quick tests, and more extensive ones too.
How to determine whether bicycle components will fit each other, without the need for special tools.
A list of the tools needed for the most common-on-road repairs, and links to articles which go into detail about them.
To work efficiently on your bicycle, you need a work stand that holds it off the floor so you can spin the wheels, and at a convenient working height. A work stand can be floor-standing (recommended for apartment dwellers), or a simple home-made job hanging from an overhead joist.
The leather and the undercarriage of a leather saccle are both replaceable. Do it yourself, or send it out.
This article describes the hinges of the Bike Friday folding bicycle, and how to clean and relubricate them.
Unusual and improvised repair which can get you back in the saddle, or avoid getting your hands dirty
This article examines the workings of conventional bicycle hubs and explains the tools and techniques involved in servicing them.
It also describes a special tool I invented to facilitate bearing adjustment on quick-release hubs...you can make your own from junk parts.
Color Coding Your Tools For shop mechanics and serious home mechanics
We use a simple color coding system for wrench sizes. It is a great time saver around the shop, because it allows the mechanics to tell the size of a wrench at a glance, even from across the room.
A general article on practical aspects of brake adjustment, specifically focusing on cantilever brakes (including the new "V-type" cantilevers.)
Most brake and gear shifting problems are the result of cable friction or misadjustment. This article covers cable installation, preparation, and maintenance.
Irregular sounds are often a warning of incipient problems. They can often be cured by just tightening whatever is loose, but if you ignore them and continue to ride, you risk ruining parts.
I advise against taking freewheels apart for service, but if you insist, here's how...don't say I didn't warn you!
Every cyclist should learn to deal with the occasional flat tire.
A steel frame can be made rideable by any welding shop if broken, and can be straightened if bent. If you ride your bicycle on long tours to out-of-the-way places, stell is the deal.
Techniques and strategies for freeing up seatposts that are corroded in place.
Straightening Chainwheels For the advanced home mechanic or shop mechanic
If your chainwheels are bent, your front derailer can't work properly. This short article deals with strategies for straightening them out.
How to adjust your bicycle's derailers for smooth, reliable shifting.
One-piece cranks are mainly found on older American-made bicycles, and children's bicycles made for the U.S. market. One piece cranks use a single metal forging as left crank, right crank and bottom-bracket axle.
These cotters have a nut to hold them in place after they have been driven or pressed in.
They can be difficult to remove, especially if they have been in place for a long time.
Many younger mechanics are unfamiliar with some of the idiosyncrasies of English-made 3-speed bikes. Nevertheless, there are an awful lot of them still on the road, because they were built to last, and they still come in for repair. An all-around bike mechanic should be up to speed on these bikes. These bikes are actually very easy to work on, but you do need to know a few of their quirks.
The synchronizing chain on a tandem is usually adjusted by an eccentric-mounted bottom bracket at one end or the other. When you service a tandem, or, especially, when you set up a new one, you may notice that the tension on the synchronizing chain varies as the cranks turn. It may be quite tight when the cranks are in one position, and rather droopy after the cranks have rotated a bit. This is not good.
Now with more tips on eccentrics and chainwheel selection. (August 8, 1997)
Tire Sizing For everyone who buys tires
Bicycle tires come in a bewildering variety of sizes. To make matters worse, in the early days of cycling, every country that manufactured bicycles developed its own system of marking the sizes. These different national sizing schemes created a situation in which the same size tire would be known by different numbers in different countries. Even worse, different-sized tires that were not interchangeable with one another were often marked with the same numbers!
This seems like a good idea at first, but you really shouldn't do it! This short article explains why.
In the 1980s, I wrote a regular monthly column in Bicycling magazine, on maintenance and repair, particularly focused on the selection and use of tools. While some of this material is rather dated, much of it isn't. Since some of these articles deal with topics that are not covered in such depth elsewhere in this site, I'm putting them online.
This article provides all you need to know to build your own bicycle wheels. A knowledge of wheelbuilding can be invaluable to any cyclist who wishes to do his or her own maintenance and repair.
Building wheels from scratch is the best way to learn the craft of wheel truing, to get the feel for how a wheel responds to spoke adjustments. It is much easier to learn this with new, un-damaged parts than to start right in trying to repair damaged wheels.
An encyclopedic listing of bicycle lore, technical data and opinions.
Last Updated: by Harriet Fell