Quickie at Home
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Quickie at Home

  • Bicycle Maintenance
Quickie at Home

FIX A FLAT

You are all set to go out on your ride when you notice you're tires are flat. Ride cancelled, go back to bed. It doesn't always have to be this way. With a little know-how and tools you can fix the flat and set out on your ride. If you are on a time schedule, a shorter ride is better than no ride at all. Remember, always keep a spare inner tube with you at home and on a ride.

To change the tire:

  • These days, most cycles come with quick release wheels. Release the wheel with the puncture from the frame of the bicycle.
  • Wedging two tire levers between the tire and the rim, take the flat tire off the rim. If you don't have a tire lever, any thin flat object will do the same. (For example, the flat end of a long screw driver.)
  • Remove the inner tube from the tire and check the insides of the tire for remaining sharp objects that caused the flat. Remove any sharp pieces, should you find any.
  • Unbox your spare tube and inflate it so it has some air in it, and some shape to it.
  • Put the semi-inflated tube back onto wheel, between the wheel rim and the tire.
  • Once the inner tube is in place, put the tire back onto the wheel using the levers to snap it back on and inflate the tire to it's ideal pressure.
  • Put the tire back on, tighten the quick release valve and voila, you're ready to ride.

If you don't have a spare tube with you, a patch is the path to take. The process is similar, except instead of putting on the spare tube, you will need fix the punctured tube and put it back. To do so, you will need a patch kit. Inflate the punctured tube and immerse it in a small bucket of water to find the hole. Once you do, dry the area well and stick a patch onto the area with a hole. Make sure it has stuck on well and there are no more holes in the tube. Once you confirm that the tube is all patched up, put it back onto the rim and put the tire back on. 

Note: This is only a temporary fix as the patch may not be able to withstand higher pressure for a long period of time. Replace the tube quickly, or get the punctured tube fixed properly after you finish your ride.  

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NUTS AND BOLTS

Since all components on a bicycle are held together by nuts and bolts, make sure that they are all tightened accurately every once in a while. The most important areas to check regularly are the handlebars, stem and seat post. The constant friction and pressure around these areas can cause the bolts to loosen and reduce performance on the saddle, even worse cause an accident!

Over tightening can cause issues as well – round the bolts and ruining the threads on the bicycle. A torque wrench is an accurate tool to tune the bicycle with precise measurements, and is an excellent one-time investment to improve your cycling experience. The wrench has measurements, so that you can keep a check on the amount of force applied. Once torqued accurately, there is no need to adjust them for weeks, even months.

SLIPPING CHAIN

This is a very common problem that can occur anytime. The chain tends to slip off the rear cog set in most cases, though it can slip off the front chain ring as well. Sometimes, both.

To fix this, you will need to follow these steps:

  • First, place the chain on the bottom bracket of the rear cog.
  • Once attached to the cog, put the chain over the teeth on top of the chain ring and reestablish the connection between the rear cog set and the front chain ring.
  • Once in the right place, slowly move the pedal forward to set the chain around the entire chain ring and back to the cog set.

If the chain falls off repeatedly, then it's probably too long for the bicycle frame. In this case, the chain will have to be shortened by removing a few chain links.

STUCK SEAT

If a bicycle has not been used for a while, or the seat post has not been adjusted/removed in a long time, there is a tendency for it to get stuck. This makes it hard to removed/adjust the seat when the need arises.

To prevent this situation, make sure to keep the post and tube as clean as possible and grease it regularly. Mark the right height on the post using tape or paint, and then remove it from the tube. Clean the post and the inside of the tube well, to make sure that there is no dirt clinging on to these areas. Once clean, grease the post and tube with sufficient amounts of grease and put the post back in the tube.

Repeat this on a regular basis to prevent this problem arising altogether.

ODD NOISES FROM YOUR BICYCLE

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  • CREAKING WHEELS:

In most cases, squeaky wheels are caused by a loose spoke or two spokes rubbing together. You will need a spoke wrench to tighten a loose spoke, but this can be slightly tricky to do and is better to get professional help. If the noise is caused by two spokes are rubbing together, lubricating the junction should do the trick.

  • SQUEAKY BRAKES:

A squeaky noise while braking usually indicated debris stuck in the brake pads. To combat this issue, clean the brake pads and the rim with a simple acetone solution. If it still persists, the debris maybe deeply embedded in the brake pads and will require sanding the pads with sandpaper, to clear it out. If it continues, you might have to take your bicycle to a shop to make sure that the brake pads are properly toed-in.    

  • CREAKY PEDALS:

Creaky pedals generally denotes that the crank arm has come loose on the spindle. To fix it, remove the bolts on the crank arm and lubricate them before putting them back. Make sure you tighten them to the recommended torque. Additionally, remove your pedals and grease the threads.

It is true, the idea of fixing your bicycle at home can sound scary at times. Especially, if you are relatively new to riding and aren't very familiar with bicycle components. However, keeping these quick fix tips in mind, bicycle maintenance and repair should be a walk in the park.

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