Cycle maintenance from scratch
Have you ever considered learning how to maintain your own bike? Basic bicycle maintenance is as much about fun as it is about learning new skills that will help you save money in the long run.
Georgina recently completed a beginners cycle maintenance course and tells us how she got on:
I like cycling, I own two bikes and I’ve even done some longish rides that have tested my mettle and the comfort of my saddle.
However, I’ve never repaired a puncture, changed a tyre or adjusted my brakes or gears, as I've always had someone more skilled with a tyre lever and allen key to step in and fix things for me. It was definitely time I got my hands dirty and learnt how to look after my own bike so I attended a free beginners’ cycle maintenance course at The Hub in Stockton.
What the course covers
This is a three-hour introduction to the basics of looking after a bike, identifying issues and knowing how do deal with the most common problems.
There were four of us at the session, with three bikes to work on between us, plus the demonstration bike. There were two trainers who knew their onions and it was perfectly pitched for novices like me.
We began with how to do the M-check, a method of checking over the main components of a bike for any problems that might render it unroadworthy. Starting at the back of the bike, check the rear wheel and tyre, back brakes, saddle, pedals and cranks, handlebar and stem, then finally the front wheel, tyre and brake. Or you can do that in reverse if you prefer. So far so good.
Then it was straight into fixing a puncture on an inner tube. This was much easier than I thought, and I was able to find and repair the hole without too much difficulty.
Next we covered replacing brake blocks and making sure they are aligned with the wheel rim correctly, and how to tweak the tension.
Adjusting the position of the handlebar and gear levers was pretty straight forward, as was changing the height of the saddle and removing and putting on pedals.
Moving up a gear
On to trickier matters – the cassette or derailleurs, or gear cogs as they are known to cycling lay people like me. We were shown how to spot problems with changing gears, what the cause might be and how to fix the simpler issues, with a twist of a dial here and there.
Finally, we looked at changing the tyre or an inner tube on the wheels. It does take a bit of practice and elbow grease with the tyre lever, but it’s not rocket science once you know what you’re doing.
The course finished with advice about cleaning, lubricating and greasing the bike to keep it in tip top condition and protect it from the elements.
There was the opportunity to stay on after the main session to learn more about gears or have another go at any aspect the course, but my time as a cycle mechanic was up so I had to hang up the latex gloves and get back to the office.
Practice makes perfect
I found the course fun and interesting, just right for someone who’d barely pumped up a tyre before, and the prospect of fixing a puncture while out on the road is now somewhat less daunting than I had first thought.
I have since changed the tyre on my own bike, which I completed all nails in tact.
Now, if only I could master the clipping in and out of my pedals, wonder if they do courses for not falling over at junctions...
We regularly post dates for Tees Valley based cycle maintenance classes on our Facebook page. Like and follow our page or get in touch to find out about upcoming dates in Stockton, Middlesbrough and Darlington.