Tag Archives: Bicycle maintenance

Discovering how things work here is a group of neighborhood kids learning about bicycle maintenance. 

Teaching your child the ancient art of bicycle maintenance

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

As a parent and tinkerer, one of the most fun activities I share with my boys is teaching them how things work. Now that my older son is riding more and helping me reviewing a bike for HaveFunBiking, the time has come to teach him how a bike works. Almost everybody gets the basics, but after 20 years working in shops, I want to give as much of my experience to him as possible. Take a look at my plan for teaching my son bicycle maintenance.

This father, son team assemble a bike for a school program.

Here this father, son team assemble a new bike for a school program.

Safety first in bicycle maintenance

Like wearing a helmet when riding a bike, working on a bike has safety gear as well. Eye protection is a must. With safety glasses on the next step is to show your child the danger zones on a bike. Spinning wheels, spinning brake rotors, along with the crank, chain and cogs are all dangerous to little fingers. Teach your children to stay away from those areas when the bike is moving. On that subject, it is also important for kids to wear clothing that is snug fitting. Loose clothing can get caught in moving parts.

bicycle maintenance

Caution areas are highlighted in red. These are the places fingers can get pinched.

Tools of the trade in bicycle maintenance

The next step is to teach your kid what the tools are and how to use them. Bikes only use a few different tools like, metric hex wrenches, screwdrivers, and metric box wrenches. First show you child how to hold each tool for best leverage, and what part of the tool engages with the bike. Then, show them where each tool fits on the bike before beginning the fix.

bicycle maintenance

Hex wrenches, box wrenches, and screwdrivers used by professional bike mechanics across the country.

Having fun with bicycle maintenance

Now that the safety and instruction portions are over, make the process fun! Your kid is more than likely dying to get their hands (and wrenches) on the bike as quickly as possible, so let them have at it. Considering you gave them the safety and function basics already, their exploration of the bike will be safe and enlightening. Once they play a little, ask your kid to teach you how the bike works! Have them exercise their brain and logic by explaining how the bike functions.

Teaching a little at a time

It’s easy for parents to get overzealous when teaching. If you are mechanically inclined, sharing that gift with your kids can be exciting, but try not to overwhelm them. Feel comfortable stopping the lesson when they loose interest. I like to start teaching with the rear brake (assuming it is a rim brake). The rear brake usually needs adjustment, and is a rather simple example of how the rest of the bike functions. Once the rear brake is dialed, and your kid is comfortable with the process, have them adjust the front brake.

Next, I start teaching about how to adjust the shifting system. Hopefully you and your child had a good conversation when they “taught” you how the shifting worked, because that conversation is a great baseline for teaching how to adjust the shifting. Because of the barrel adjuster on the rear derailleur, start with the rear shifting first. Once they get the hang of that move to the front derailleur.

After the bike is functioning properly, teach your kids how to adjust the seat, bars and controls. You may ask why I would recommend the simple adjustments last? Simple answer, these adjustments require the most leverage and are best saved for once your child is practiced at using the tools.

Test ride

Once you child completes the adjustments, it’s time to take a test ride. Have your kid test ride in a supervised area away from traffic (like a driveway). Once the test ride is complete, make any additional adjustments needed, and be sure all the hardware is tight.

bicycle maintenance

Test rides are fun!

Learn through mistakes

Most of the fun of learning to work on bikes (or anything for that matter) is the process. Nobody gets it right on the first try, and all of us learn from the mistakes along the way. In fact, the mistakes are more valuable than the successes. So the most important part of teaching your kids to work on bikes is to let them make mistakes and be a resource for the solutions if needed.

Bike Pic March 21, Tuesday Bike Tips, Routine Maintenance Is Critical

This Tuesday, take some tips from this article we wrote on routine bike maintenance. It is extremely important to keep up with the care of your bike like you would with any other mechanical device. So take our tips, and get your bike in optimal condition today!

Photo above shows Steve Phyle from Tonka Bike & Ski, out of Hopkins MN, helping some cyclists on the Tour D’ Amico ride last summer.

View the new Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide and remember to register for the Root River Bluff & Valley Bicycle Tour and all the other fun rides coming up.

Thanks for viewing Today’s Tuesday Bike Tips, Routine Maintenance is a Need Pic

Now rolling into our 10th year as a bike tourism media, our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun. While highlighting all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more place to have fun we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. As you scroll through the information and stories we have posted, enjoy.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: editor@HaveFunBiking.com. Include a brief caption (for each), of who is in the photo (if you know?) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we do use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continues to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your next bike adventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 8th year of producing the guide.

So bookmark HaveFunBiking.com and find your next adventure. Please share all our picks with your friends and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the next corner with one of our camera’s ready to document your next move while you are riding and having fun. We may capture you in one of our next Pic of the Day posts.

Have a great day!

Bike tune-up tricks for better cycling performance

Want your bike to go faster, ride easier and shift smoother long after your annual bike shop check up?

Improvements in these areas are often relatively easy to accomplish with just a few simple steps. Try out these four simple tune-up tasks below, which don’t require any special knowledge or tools and you should see a long lasting improvement in your bikes performance and ease of riding:

1. Clean your chain and lubricate often

Light lubrication is the key, wiping off excess to prevent dirt build up.

Light lubrication on your bike chain is the key, wipe off excess to prevent dirt build up.

The chain and sprockets on your bike play a key part in the transfer of power in your legs to your wheels, making them go round and round. When the crank and gears collect dirt and grit and get gummy, not only does it slow you down, but they also wear out faster. Keeping your chain clean and lubricated is one of the best ways to keep your bike working well.
• How to clean your chain – quick and easy check out this video.

Tip: Use lightweight oil specially designed for bikes. Stay away from motor oil as it is too heavy and will quickly attract dirt and crud. Want a big greasy chain ring mark on your leg? Using too much oil or the wrong kind is a guaranteed way to get one. Light lubrication is the key, and wipe off excess at the end.  

2. Lubricate the moving parts of your derailleurs.

Keep your derailleurs clean for smooth shifting.

Keep the derailleur on your bike clean for smooth shifting.

Your bike has quite a few moving metal parts that are vulnerable to dirt and moisture. To keep your bike happy and functioning well, these parts should be lubricated regularly.

Pivot points on the brakes and derailleurs are good examples of the types of places you should target because they are vulnerable to attracting dirt and grit due to their placement on your bike. You can spot many of these places just by watching your bike in action and seeing where metal parts move against and around each other.

For instance, think about your brakes. On most road bikes, they are mounted on a bolt on the frame above your wheel. Then, when you squeeze the lever, the brake pivots around this bolt as it contracts. It’s these places where you want to apply a couple drops of oil.

3. Inspect your brake pads.

check your brakes to see that the pads are clean and aligned correctly.

Check your brakes on your bike to see that the pads are clean and aligned properly.

A quick check of your brake pads will often reveal potential problems that are easy to fix. You want to check:
• Are your brake pads properly aligned? Brake pads are the little rubber things that clamp down on your rims to slow you when you squeeze the brake levers. Make sure they are hitting the rims evenly, and aren’t either rubbing the tire or missing your rim partially or completely.

• Are the brake pads toed-in? The bike brake pads should also be “toed-in,” which means the leading edge of the pads should touch the bike rim first when you lightly apply the brakes. The pads squish a little, and when you squeeze down hard, you should get full contact to the rim. This helps prevent squeaking

• Check for junk embedded in the brake pads. Inspect the surface of the brake pads where they meet the rims, and using a pointy sharp instrument like a knife, pick out any bits of sand or metal that may have become embedded in the pad. Removing this grit prevents the pads from wearing and scratching your rims and helps them provide more even and consistent stopping power. Need more info, checkout this video.

4. Check the pressure on your tires.

Always check your tires air pressure.

Always check your bike tires air pressure.

This is one of the simplest things you can do that will have the greatest effect. And surprisingly, most people overlook this both on their bike and car. Paying attention to keeping the proper level of air pressure in your tires accomplishes many things, including:
 Makes pedaling easier
• Protects your rims from damage
• Prolongs the life of your tires
• And it makes it much less likely that you will get a flat
.

Checking for proper air pressure in your tires before every ride is quick and easy to do.

Simply look for the recommended air pressure for your bikes tires. It will be printed on the sidewall of the tire in both English and/or metric units. When you know what that number is, inflate the tire, check the air pressure as you pump go to ensure that you’re on target. You’ll need a tire gauge, either built into your pump or else separate gauge to measure air pressure of the tires. Be sure to check the pressure frequently as you pump up the tire so that you do not overinflate your tire. See video for more information.

Also, take a quick moment to check your tires for proper inflation before each ride and add more air if needed. It is not uncommon for tires to gradually lose air over several days, even without having a flat that needs to be replaced. Taking just this simple and easy step will prove to be a valuable one to you in the long run.

If you are still having problems, need to adjust the derailleurs or get some new tires if the ones on your bike are several years old, visit your local bike shop, they will fix you up and share some more easy maintenance tips.

Now go out and have fun riding!