Bike Maintenance for Beginners

The first day I walked into my new-to-me LBS, I was only looking for some cleaning help for several thousand miles of road grime but when they told me there was a basic maintenance class held every month and you could bring your bike in and that it was free, I knew I needed to go.

For too long my bike maintenance has consisted solely of lubing my chain and hoping nothing would go wrong. P gave me some tire levers as an anniversary gift once and I only knew what they were because of the packaging they came in. I knew I’d have to do some learning if I wanted to be confident enough to wander further from home not to mention if I had a break down at a race (my worst nightmare.)


This class was perfect for that. Phil, the owner of Chain Reaction in Evans, Georgia first showed us the basics of cleaning and then lubing our bikes. I knew I needed to lube the chain and sort of how to clean it, but I never knew I also needed that same attention to the derailleurs or even what those were and where to find them. He also showed us how to use the edge of a rag to “floss” the cassette and get it cleaner. I was thrilled with that because it’s been driving me crazy trying to get down in there.

 

Next he showed me how to take the tire off my bike, strip out the tube inside and replace it all back together. Not going to lie, this was more awkward than he made it look and took a couple of tries but I got it all back together by hand and was so pleased with myself when I inflated it and didn’t have a pinch flat. I am sure now that if I get a flat while riding, I’m not doomed to walk back in shame.

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It wasn’t too bad, really. I didn’t have any problems getting the tire off but I tried putting the tube and the tire back on at the same time with hilariously bad results. Phil came over and told me what I was doing wrong so I had to start over.


The last thing he showed us was how to repair a broken chain and even how to ease a stiff chain link. This part was straight magic to me because I had no idea that was even possible. I almost hope this happens because it was so amazing to watch him “break” a chain and then knit it back together so easily with just little chain links.


It was such a good experience and I’m so glad that the wonderful folks at Chain Reaction take the time after the close of business to instruct some people on basic bike maintenance. It was also interesting to see all the different bikes and the little differences between them and I couldn’t help but feel like when I watch how magic tricks or done or see how they created special effects – I know now that it’s not that complicated but it just seems so amazing to me that it’s that simple and that even I can do it. And after admiring all the different bikes there, I really want a beach cruiser to take down and ride by the Canal now, or a mountain bike for the trails out here.

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