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Bike knowledge - Where do I start?

Taken to triathlon this year and never ever ridden bikes properly before (apart from a Raleigh Striker back in the day), so my knowledge on bikes and maintenance is zip. Nada. Nothing. Not a frickin sausage.

So where do I start? Well I've seen a course near me on basic maintenance which I'm contemplating, but some of the stuff that people talk about on here just makes my head spin.

Should I be buying cycle specific mags? Are there any decent ones?

The tri mags seem to fall a bit short on bike info and I'm keen to learn more... Contemplating upgrading wheels but just my sheer lack of knowledge is stopping me (and the WAT officer). Or should I just get over it and let the experts tell me what I need.

Ta very muchly


  • Hi Dave,

    Thanks for posting this I was just about to do something similar. Basically I've just upgraded to a nice new shiny road bike and I'm guessing that my maintenance regime for the hybrid (keep it clean ish, keep it lubed, pump up its tyres and get regular services) isn't going to cut it but I don't know where to start.........

    All help gratefully received,

  • willtriwilltri Posts: 436
    currently i'm in the - clean, lube, pump camp. [edit - that doesn't sound great does it!! ]

    Anything more serious and i'm off down the lbs!
  • risris Posts: 1,002
    my knowledge is middling, i can do some stuff and there is plenty that i'd like to be able to do but haven't tried yet.

    i've started from 'clean, degrease, lube, pump' and can now tinker happily with my handlebars, bits of the headset, chain removal and brake removal, stripping and rebuilding. i can re-line brakes and would guess i can probably fiddle with the gears to a reasonable level.

    i've learned all this by fiddling with stuff that didn't work properly and looking up online. i figure that if it doesn't work and i've got to take to an lbs then i probably can't make it any worse trying to fix it myself.

    i'd love to be able to do bottom-bracket/crank removal and reindex/re-line gear cables etc. and wheel trimming, that would be good to learn. when i need to to trim a wheel (tightening spokes mainly) i'll look forward to learning that.
  • I was in a similar position to the others (bar RIS), although maybe worse as i'm not even 100% sure what to lube or what lube to use.

    Fortunately I bought a Boardman bike from Halfords so have had to take it back and get them to change the setup so many times i'm learning what to do!

    Every cloud...

    (ps - if you have setup problems and are London based ask for Glen at St. Paul's branch, seems to know what he's doing!)
  • Well, I'm not sure what lube I should be using either - on the hybrid I used whatever the hubby gave me but aren't I supposed to have different ones for different things? One to drive out water when it's wet?

    I just get so confused.....
  • risris Posts: 1,002
    i guarantee if you start a thread asking which lube to use then you'll have a queue of helpful posters (coma, mainly)!

    post it here and see what advice you can get, even if it is just links to other places. i read bikeradar and ctcforum to see what the bike community is arguing about and then take what seems like a sensible approach.

    <spoddy bit, almost like i'm mildly autistic or something>
    this is as i understand it for bike lubricant - wet and dry lube are the main options and refer to the conditions the bike is probably going to get taken through. dry lube is cleaner and thinner and should be drier to the touch, but as a layer it comes off easily when it gets wet. wet lube attracts dirt, grime (goes black) and also salt and grit (in winter) but will stay put longer when it gets wet.

    some people have bikes that stay indoors in the wet and during the winter and for that sort of bike a dry lube is probably fine. if your bike is going to get wet and used all year then a wet lube might be better, but it should be degreased and relubed regularly to stop grime and grit increasing wear on the drivechain.
  • I figure the best way to learn is by doing...

    I went out and found an old abandoned steel road frame and built it up as a fixie to commute on. I chose fixed because it is an easy first step since you don't have to worry about gears etc. but it teaches you alot about how a bike is put together etc.

    Key resources I used were:

    [*] Parktools Big Blue Book.
    [*] Sheldon Brown
    [*] Internet searches
    [*] London Fixed Gear and Single Speed Forum. (This forum is stacked with people who know ALOT about building bikes etc but it has a very different atmosphere to this forum, whatever you do make sure you read the rules, use the search function and grow some thick skin before posting... Awesome resource though).
    [*] LBS - In oxford there is an LBS caled Oxford Cycle Workshop. They mostly rennovate abandoned bikes and resell them, but you can pay to be a memeber and they run classes and have open evenings where members are allowed to use their workshop and tools etc. great place to pick up advice.

    I rekon I would now be confident enough to tackle most repairs, its just a matter of finding the time.

    Build a fixie/ss you won't regret it!
  • huwdhuwd Posts: 228
    ris wrote:
    clean, degrease, lube, pump
    Good advice for most situations life can throw at you...

    I came from a biking background - I'm very lucky that my dads always been a huge enthusiast and I caught the bug early doing all my own maintenance from simple clean and tweak to bearing services, suspension lubing, building up from scratch etc.

    The best thing to do is to find someone you know with an old bike that needs serious attention and fix it up for them at cost (replacement cables, outers, strip down bearings and freewheels etc). Do this a few times and you will learn more than you can ever hope to from a magazine/web page.

    Once you are confident - strip down and rebuild your own, that way you can be sure you will have every tool you need in the future
  • huwdhuwd Posts: 228
    Also - lube wise, dont bother with the super expensive stuff (its NOT worth the money).

    Simple dry teflon lube, sprayed onto a clean drivetrain with excess wiped off will be fine, you can always put some wet lube on once its dried.

    For greasing bearing surfaces over winter THE best one I've ever used is a motorcycle grease - Silkolene RG2, its quite thick but super waterproof and never shifts from bearing surfaces. Its also pretty cheap (I bought 1/2litre of it in about 1997 and I've still got half a tub left!).
  • ewanamacdonald wrote:
    Build a fixie/ss you won't regret it
    Loving that idea...

    Thanks for the posts guys.
  • Build a fixie?

    I'm not sure that my BH could possibly resist doing most of that for me..........

    Also where do you guys find the time for working, training, families and building bikes????? or is this a project like my friend's husband's Spitfire that is destined never to actually be finished???
  • shadowone1shadowone1 Posts: 1,408
    Liking this thread since I'm actually having trouble reindexing my gears.

    In terms of finding the time. thats the 64 million dollar question. Welcome to the world of Age Groupers. We train when we can. I got home pretty late the other night, by the time I got in and then took the dog out it was about 9.15ish... quick jump on the turbo for 45mins. at least it was something, better than nothing....
  • huwdhuwd Posts: 228
    durhamvam wrote:
    where do you guys find the time for working, training, families and building bikes?????
    Simple for me - no family of my own, I have massive respect for anyone that does manage all of the above at any level of involvement.
  • building bikes is defo the best way to lern how to do bike mantanance

    get youself round the second hand shops and free adds bye 2-3 bikes as cheep as you can and chop them up and mix the bits and hay pesto there you have a top noch comuter / work horse and you will also have spares for when things fall off !

    PS upside down shoper bars make you faster than Cav Fact!
  • BmanBman Posts: 442
    Flava, you are in London arent you? If you are keen to tinker yourself and are interested in a really good course, I'd recommend these guys so much. My knowledge was pretty basic, knew what each part did but wasnt sure how to strip and adjust componets, so I did the intermediate course and loved it.

    Full day hands on for £60, well worth it and Im pretty confident stripping and rebuilding bikes since the course. With tons of reference to my bike maintenance book and the park tools website of course.

    Check it out if you are interested: http://www.cycletraining.co.uk/training ... aintenance
  • ZacniciZacnici Posts: 1,385
    Yes I could really do with something like this as I am too shy (believe it ir not) to join any clubs
  • Cheers for the recommendation Bman. Looks just the ticket!

    Currently awaiting WAT officers approval before booking on this
  • transittransit Posts: 163
    Due to there being no decent bike shops near me - good shops, not helpful people, over the past 8 yrs I've built up to doing all my own bike maint - strip down and rebuild.

    I'd reiterate what others have said, great resources on line asmentioned:
    - Park tools - check it out, it is so easy to use the 'bike map' to find out what you want.
    - Sheldon Brown - if anything there is too much info there
    - Zinn and the Art of Rd/Mtb/Tri bike maint - That's what I have but other good books too
    - Bike Radar or other forum - try and search for info first.

    I find my road bikes require very little tlc, if they get wet, ensure you clean and dry then lube chain and deraillieurs (sp?). I tend to use water dispersant (GT85) then clean off before next ride and relube.
    I know this is a bit random but if carbon frame and or carbon seat post remove regularly clean. I got mine stuck once during winter and now have part stuck in frame, doh! Can't really recommend whether to grease or not (there are some specific compounds) but there is a lot of info on line - personally just clean. (as i said, a bit random but if it might stop someone having same nightmare then worth it).

    Indexing the gears occasionally if reqd, follow park tools, it is a surprisingly simple job.

    If you buy a mtb and do lots of muddy trails, cleaning/maint is a post ride necessity, that's how I got loads of practise.

    You can also post on this forum, everyone will try and help. Best do some work
  • transittransit Posts: 163
    Doing a hands on course must be good too. If you live near Durham I'm always happy to help but it'll cost you a beer er, recovery drink!
  • Ooooh Transit!

    You may yet live to regret that offer

    Anyone know anything about the Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative? They run courses up here

    http://www.edinburghbicycle.com/comms/s ... Cardinal=1
  • I used to live around the corner from the shop in Edinburgh but it was before I had got into cycling or tri. They usd to do a good job on my commuter though and I believe the courses had a good rep.

    On a side note, After 5 years of serious neglect I thought my Revolution (Edinburgh bike coop's own brand bike) Continental Race was a right off yesterday, so was looking at other bikes at the low end of the c.£500 market. It cost me £399 5 years ago and yesterday still couldn't find anything that would beat it for under £500!!
  • transittransit Posts: 163
    Ahhhh, I hereby retract all offers of help with immediate effect! Only joking, I don't mind showing people what to do so they can go away and do it for themselves in future, often it's a matter of having the right tools for the job - I think I've spent as much on tools as I have on bikes!!! - for road bike maint once you know what tools you need you only need a few basic ones above and beyond a decent set of allen keys and some screwdrivers. So, Durhamvam offer is genuine.

    I've heard good things about the EBC courses. My sis. used to live round corner form Edinburgh store and always helpful. The Revolution bikes are great value too. Also in Edinb, there is a shop (can't remember if it's the Bike Works or another???) who let you take your bike in and use their workshop facility for either a small charge or free, now that would be good to have locally!

    In terms of bikes being a 'right off' - these are ideal for practising maint on as mentioned by someone earlier. I reckon you could have it as good as new in an hour or two....although that is no reason whatsoever not to buy a new bike!!! - get spending!

    I'm rambling on, can you tell it's Friday.
  • Right I'll get myself on one of the Newcastle courses then. Then I might have some idea of the right questions to ask you Transit!

    I've just been offered a write off to practise on so now all I have to do is get the BH to agree to another bike in the house...... this would mean I now had more bikes than him
  • transittransit Posts: 163
    Good one, the only thing I would say is that when I went in the Newcastle branch of EBC and tried my hardest to give them the best part of £2k for a mtb 3 years ago they gave such bad service I left and spent elsewhere! - haven't been back since. Saying that I reckon it'll be spot on, just don't want you thinking I recommended it, the Edinb shop = good experiences, Newc shop = one bad experience.

    Not v.helpful am I!
  • Nah, I'm not looking to shop with them just the courses.... although you know one thing leads to another and I'll probably find myself leaving the course with more than I came with

    I'm afraid Dave Heron in Coxhoe has my shopping allegiance, Transit.
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