You may be intimidated by the prospect of repairing your bike if you’re starting as a cyclist. You wouldn’t want to muck it up anymore by trying to fix it yourself, so you’d rather have the experts do it, right?
Like a person, the bike doesn’t like feeling unwell and will often let you know the problems. But a clanging noise coming from your bike may not always be a sign of impending disaster. Force disruptions may range from very obvious to hardly perceptible. Consider the most critical aspects of your bike parts and determine whether they need mechanical attention.
The chain transmits your body’s kinetic energy into the back wheel’s rotation, making it both the weakest and most crucial part of your bicycle. Therefore, the first order of business for every aspiring diagnostician should be a complete examination of the chain. Rust, an ugly mixture of orange and brown, is easy to identify. In addition, you may use your fingertips to check whether the chain is dry; ideally, it will have a very light coating of clean oil.
The most straightforward approach to prevent rust is to clean your bike often; rust that has set in for a long time is a tricky beast that usually necessitates a trip to the repair shop. Avoid stiff links at all costs; they will make their presence known by causing your chain to skip every few rotations. Examine the chain from the side while pedalling backwards with one hand to pinpoint the offending links. If you see that any of the links are creating a “kink,” you should loosen them altogether; otherwise, you’re almost sure to have shifting problems in the future.
You may use a chain tool or your own hands to dislodge a rusted link. If you don’t have any other equipment, you may gently twist the small man back and forth by holding the rigid link at a right angle to your palms. After you’ve loosened the link, you should check it against its neighbours to ensure it’s been fixed correctly. Last, the ability to visually detect chain “stretch” is akin to a superpower; regular humans will require a chain wear tool. Use the device to ensure your chain is not more than 75% stretched.
The kind of pad you use will affect the answer somewhat. Disk brakes are widespread on mountain, hybrid, and cyclocross bikes, whereas rim brakes are more frequent on road cycles. A good indicator of whether your rim brake pads still have life in them is whether or not the grooves — or “teeth” — in the rubber are still visible, as seen on the right pad in the image above. If not, you need a new pair immediately! Check the pads for debris, such as sand or metal that may have been lodged there.
Look for spots where the rubber is so thin that the underlying canvas is visible, sometimes known as “bald patches,” on the tire surface during your first inspection. Next, look for hairline fractures in the rubber along the sidewalls; these will appear anywhere on the tire since rubber degrades at the same rate. Finally, keep an eye out for ‘random’ bumps on the tire’s surface close to severe incisions. Remove the tire from the wheel and examine the tread for damage if the incisions are visible and the canvas’s strength has weakened. For the tire to maintain its inflated state, the canvas is crucial. Riding a damaged canvas is like pounding on a gas canister; eventually, it will explode.
Ideally, the rubber or foam used in grips and other bike parts wouldn’t be tacky, slippery, or decaying with time. It’s also essential to test the security of the grips by grasping one firmly and trying to rotate it to see whether it comes loose from the bar.