Tag Archives: bike repairs

Bike noises that can ruin a great ride may be easy to fix with these tips

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Bikes are fun to ride and any distraction from that fun can be annoying. One distraction that is easy to eliminate is noises your bike normally doesn’t make. The reason they are easy to eliminate is because each noise is telling you what’s wrong. Here are some of the most common noises and their causes.

Annoying Noises from Corrosion

Before we get into the annoying noises themselves, we should talk about what causes them. Most annoying noises are caused from corrosion between two surfaces, or excess wear. Noises from corrosion can be remedied easily, whereas parts that are worn out need to be replaced. In most cases, corrosion is not visible to the naked eye but can be removed with solvent and guarded against in the future with a little grease.

Annoying Noises or Creaks

“Creaks” are the most common and annoying noises on your bike. It usually sounds like you are opening a rusty door when you pedal and will subside when you stop pedaling. Creaks are attributed to either the pedals or the bottom bracket (fancy name for the bearings on which your cranks turn).

If there is side to side movement in either pedal or the entire crank, you should take your bike into a bike shop to have it serviced. If there isn’t any play, the creak is probably associated to corrosion. Removing the pedals and greasing the threads, taking off the chainrings (large gears attached to the crank), or removing the crank and greasing the bottom bracket spindle will usually silence the bike. If the creak persists, take your bike into the shop for a more thorough examination.

Annoying Noises or Clicks

Unlike creaks, clicks rarely follow any sort of rhythm and usually come from the handlebar, seat, or seat post. An easy way to test where the click is coming from is to do it off the bike. With your feet on the ground, flex the bars from side to side. If you hear a click, loosen the stem, clean the bar, and apply a thin layer of grease before reinstalling.

The seat and seatpost can be treated just like the bars. While off the bike, flex the saddle forward and backward. If you hear a creak, remove the saddle, clean the saddle rails, apply grease and reinstall. The next step is to remove the seat post from the bike and grease the seat tube before reinstalling. It is important to note that carbon fiber posts and frames should not be greased. instead, use a carbon fiber friction paste like Park Tool’s SAC-2.

Squeak

Squeaks sound like you have a mouse or small bird trapped somewhere in your bike. Like creaks, they are usually rhythmic, but can continue even while not pedaling. Squeaks are usually caused by a lack of lubrication. Typically, a bearing’s rubber seal is rubbing against a metal surface and the vibration causes a squeak.

The easy remedy for a squeak is to first locate it by spinning each wheel independently. Next, spin each pedal independently. Finally, try back pedaling. Listen for where the noise is coming from then apply a wet lubricant like Park Tool’s CL-1 to where the rubber seal meets metal. Spin the offending part until the noise goes away then wipe off any excess lube. Additionally, chains can squeak sometimes as well. To correct that just clean and lubricate your chain.

Brake Squeal

If you squeeze you brakes and hear a noise somewhere between a small squeal or a fog horn, then you are suffering from brake squeal. Brake squeal is caused when the brake pads touch the braking surface and, rather than building friction, vibrate. The noise you are hearing is that vibration. Before you get to concerned, brakes will oftentimes squeal when they are wet and be silent again when dry. However, if the noise persists when dry, the two major causes are adjustment or contamination. With an adjustment issue, the brake pads are hitting the brake surface at an angle that causes them to vibrate and readjusting the pads should solve the problem.

For contamination, the solution is somewhat more involved. First thing to do is determine what type of brake you have, rim or disc. If your bike has rim brakes, your brakes use rubber pads to press against the rim near the tire. For disc brakes, semi-metallic pads press against a steel rotor mounted to the center of the wheel. To clean a rim brake, use soap and water (dawn dish detergent works well) to wash the rim and brake pads. Also, scour the rim and brake pads surface with sand paper or Scotchbrite. For a disc brake, start with soap and water as well and scour the rotor surface. If the noise doesn’t subside, take it into your local shop for pad replacement.

Clunks

Clunks are the sound of one object hitting another and are usually heard when you run over a gap in the road or over a curb. Most clunks are serious and should be resolved as quickly as possible. They’re serious because something on your bike is loose or worn out. The most common things to come loose are your wheel’s hubs or the bicycle’s headset. To test and see if the hubs are loose, grab the rim and gently push side to side. For the headset, (the bearings on which your fork and handlebars turn) simply turn your bars 90 degrees, squeeze the front brake and rock the bike forward and back. If you feel any play or rattling, take the bike in for service.

Clunks are also often found in suspension forks and seatposts. If you feel a clunk only when dropping off an object and have checked your hubs and headset, chances are your suspension needs attention. Suspension service is best left to your local bike shop. They can assess if the suspension needs either service or adjustment.

Service

In most cases, noises coming from your bike signal that it is a good time to bring it in for service. A trained mechanic can assess and remedy noises far faster than you. That doesn’t mean that you can’t do any of these repairs at home. In fact, most of these problems are easily fixed with a little attention. The only consideration before entering into the project of noise tracking is how much time you want to devote to it. Hopefully these tips will give you the confidence to try.

Giving back to the trails, paths, roads and events you enjoy is a great way to stockpile some good karma and it’s fun! There are countless ways to give back.

Bike Maintenance: Best Time to Bring in Your Bike to the Shop

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by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

As the mercury hovers below freezing this is the perfect time for bike maintenance to prepare your bicycle for sunnier days. There are many benefits to bringing your bike into the shop during the ‘down’ winter months rather than waiting for the spring season to come around.

Here in the photo above these bike maintenance shop mechanic’s at Penn Cycle are waiting for your bike. While waiting they are putting bicycles together for Free Bikes 4 Kidz,

1. Bike Maintenance at the Shop 

Most shops operate on a “first in / first out” repair schedule. This means during the busy months there may be weeks of bicycles ahead of yours in line to be repaired. Bring your bicycle in during the winter to be repaired. The repair time will be the same, but the waiting list will be shorter.

2. Discounts, Deals, and More!

The fall and winter weather may discourage riders from going out, but bike shops still need to do business. In order to draw customers, bike shops sometimes offer special pricing on different services, bikes, or parts. Additionally, lots of shops offer free clinics, demos, and presentations as well!

3. Employees can Offer their Expertise and Undivided Attention

It’s no secret that winter in a bike shop is slow. What better time to talk with sales people and mechanics? Need to know what bike type might work best for you? Is a fat bike right for you? Is that biking glove really better than the one you already have? If it’s a question about the service or adjustments to your bike, they are likely to spend more time with you and not be rushed.

The spring and summer packs the mechanics’ schedules, and their focus needs to be on completing repairs. During the winter they have much more time to spend with customers, educating them on how their bike functions.

Spring and summer for the sales staff is similar. They tend to be busy trying to attend to every customer in the shop. But in the fall and winter less people come in, so they can focus on one thing – you.

John Brown is a writer for HaveFunBiking.com.

A friendly bike shop store front that invites you in.

How to Find a Local Bike Shop that’s Perfect for You

Finding a Local Bike Shop with a Good Vibe to Fit Your Style

by Jess Leong, HaveFunBiking.com

Trying to find a local bike shop can seem daunting and more work than it’s worth. However, a great local shop that fits your needs can be invaluable as time goes on. When trying to find the right shop you need to consider what you value most. Is it a knowledgeable staff person, a great selection, great or quick service, or etc?

A friendly bike shop store front that invites you in.

Friendly bike shop store front, showing accessibility and community involvement, is like a welcome mat inviting you in.

Everyone, from beginners to experienced cyclists, can find that choosing a bike shop can be a tough decision, especially with many shops in a given area. While confident and knowledgeable staff members are important – we all want advice from experts who know what they are talking about. But other factors should also be considered.

Stepping into a bike shop can be overwhelming, but it is a necessity to find the right fit for you.

Key Factors to Consider When Checking Out a Bike Shop:

Knowledgeable Staff

Knowledgeable staff members that can give reliable advice and speak in a way that you can understand is key. If they are using words that may be unfamiliar to you or are not willing to clearly explain it, this might not be the shop for you. They should know what they’re talking about. If they don’t know the answer, they should be willing to find the answer out for you. Even experts can get stumped on good questions!

Friendly and Reliable Staff

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Knowledgeable bike shop staff, not afraid to do a little research for you, is the key to a great experience.

Expect friendly and reliable staff members at the shop you visit. You should feel comfortable approaching and asking all of your biking questions – no matter how stupid you might think a question is. (There is no such thing as a ‘stupid question.’ So, feel free to ask away!) Additionally, these staff members should be people you can rely on for your biking needs. If they aren’t focused on what you’re there for and are pushing products at you that you don’t really need, then this can be a deal breaker. You want people – at least a mechanic – who love and understand bikes. After all, you need to feel comfortable in entrusting them with your wheels.

Product Options

A decent range of products should be within the shop, unless they are a specialty shop. You want to have options and be able to look at different items and products within the shop so you can find the best fit for you – if you need it.

A good bike shop will have a large assortment of cycling accessories and other essentials to make your #nextbikeadventure memorable.

Most bike shops have a large assortment of accessories and essentials to make your #nextbikeadventure memorable.

A good bike shop will have a large assortment of cycling accessories and other essentials to make your #nextbikeadventure memorable.

Quick or Reasonable Repair Timeline

Having a bike shop mechanic who is knowledgeable and enjoys his work is an added plus.

Having a bike shop mechanic who is knowledgeable and enjoys his work is an added plus.

When a problem arises with your bike, you want it repaired in a quick manner so we could get out riding again, as soon as possible. No one wants to wait weeks for their bike to be repaired. A quick, or at least reasonable, repair time might be what’s most important for you. 

Shop Hours that Work for You

Reasonable hours that work for your schedule is something you can easily find out without ever going to the store. Today, you can look up stores online to find their hours and see if it will work for you.

Some bike shops are open only on the weekend, others are open from early morning and close by 5 p.m. or earlier, and yet others might be open late into the evening. Depending on what works for your schedule, this can help eliminate potential bike shops. If you have a job from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, a bike shop that is only open during the weekday during that period of time might not be the best fit.

Customer Satisfaction

A good shop will check in with the rider and ask them asking how they are. If a relationship is built they will ask about a product the rider might have bought. If a mistake occurs, the shop will work with the rider to try to correct it, or apologize.

It is important to note that while a bike shop might be perfect for one person, it may not be the ideal bike shop for another. While many bike shops have knowledge of different types of biking styles, some will have more specific knowledge of a particular type. In other words, every bike stop has different vibe and it just depends whether or not it suits you.

Tip: To save time, many riders would suggest checking on websites that rate bike shops to find ratings of their service, what they may offer, and if they are worth looking into.

Don’t lose heart, if after researching the first bike shop you discover it isn’t ideal for you, visit the next one. Many times, riders need to visit several shops, and sometimes go through a service or two, before finding the perfect fit for them.

Finding the shop that is best suited for you might take some time, and that’s okay. It’s worth it because if you ever have questions or your bike needs repair, they got your back. Plus, it ensures good service and fewer problems in the future.

Did your favorite bike shop make America’s Best Bike Shop list?

The National Bicycle Dealers Association has recently published its 2016 list of America’s Best Bike Shops. Retailers who made the cut this year not only offer great shopping experiences and expert staff, but are also rated on dedication to their communities and support for bicycle advocacy locally and nationally. See here if your bike shop made the cut.

In Review

Less hassle, better vibes is something we can all get behind. Happy shopping!

Jess Leong is a writer for HaveFunBiking.com.