Bikes are far less complex than automobiles, but they are still (beautiful) machines that need care and attention. As you ride your bike, its moving parts will wear, stretch, and require lubrication. You will also notice that a brand new bicycle will need some adjustments during the first few months of use.
When you buy a new bike, you should ask if you can come back for an initial tune-up. We recommend that you have your bicycle inspected and tuned at least once a year at a bicycle shop.
But hold your saddles! Part of the elegance of bicycles is that you can learn how to maintain and repair them yourself. Start with simple skills like lubricating your chain and changing a flat tire. Who knows, you may find yourself building your own bike one day!
We recommend that you learn the following basic skills. These skills are helpful if you have a roadside breakdown and will help get you through to your next major maintenance.
- How to adjust your seat and handlebars
- How to clean and lubricate your chain
- How to change your tire’s inner tube
- How to patch an inner tube
- How to adjust your brakes
How can you learn these skills and more? You can have a more experienced friend teach you, you can take a course at a bike shop, or you can sign up for classes at a REI. Finally, you can check to see if there is a bicycle co-op or collective in your area.
What’s a Bicycle Collective?
Bicycle co-ops and collectives are generally volunteer-run spaces where people are taught how to fix and maintain their bikes. The volunteer mechanics are passionate about bikes and want to help spread D.I.Y. bike maintenance skills. For a modest fee, you rent stand time and will be given guidance from a volunteer mechanic. Not only will your bike get up to spec, but you’ll gain hands-on knowledge so you can do it yourself the next time!
Where Can I Find a Bicycle Collective?
This wiki lists community bike organizations internationally and regionally.
Bike repair and maintenance can be fun and empowering, but there is nothing wrong with having a professional service your bike. You should feel safe on your bicycle, so if you don’t feel comfortable doing your own work, listen to your instinct and take it to a shop.