a Worldtour mechanics toolbox

2014 Tour de France
stage 13: Saint-EtiËnne - Chamrousse (197km)
  • Al Storer

    I recently showed a friend, who’d had his bike for several years, where the brake release is for Campagnolo brakes. He blithely thought they just didn’t have one…
    (for anyone needing a “reminder”, it’s on the brake lever- a little pin that slides sideways)

    • Chris

      Hah! I had a store loan bike with SR on it last week. After a life of the big S and the other S (SRAM), I too thought there was brake release.

      • Chris

        Edit – “no” brake release!

    • Winky

      How did he get his wheels on and off? Let down the tyres?

  • erin_2503

    An entertaining read, thanks! I absolutely love tinkering with the mechanics of bikes but it does usually end in a sheepish trip to the bike shop.
    There’s a great charity here in Bristol, The Bristol Bike Project, where one can volunteer to help refurb old donated bikes to be then donated to members of the community that are in need of cheap transport (ie unemployed, refugees). It’s a wonderful environment to learn all about how bikes work and I can proudly say I now know how to use the limit screws to make the gears better not worse, whoop!

    • JoshLyons

      You really don’t have to be embarrassed about home-repairs gone wrong. I get at least one arriving sheepishly (like you) every week and usually they’re too embarrassed to even tell me what happened. I have no problem with it – at all – and usually offer the ones who are honest with me to let them watch while I do it, so they too can learn. I actually applaud those who want to understand the mechanics and then fix things themselves.

      • Jessi Braverman

        This is fantastic to hear, Josh. Thanks! Would love to know where you work.

        • JoshLyons

          Thanks Jessi…but I cannot advertise here :) Have to respect ‘cyclingtips’.

          • Jessi Braverman

            I actually asked because we have a shop article in the works for Ella, and I would love to get in touch with you/your shop. Let me know if you’re interested in talking about what shops can do to be more female-friendly!

            • JoshLyons

              Jessi, I saw your reply above yesterday but didn’t know how to reply because the moment you mentioned Ella my blood started to boil. Sorry, but it’s best I be honest. I (the business) have worked with them (BM) before and had major headaches trying to get them to honour their end of the bargain. So, sorry mate.

              • Matt

                Is Jessie not referring to the ‘Ella’ part of CyclingTips?

      • erin_2503

        Thanks Josh!

  • Simon

    A good honest appraisal with basic yet important tips, thanks. My personal beef are those who disdainfully say they don’t have the time and always get the shop to service their bike. The inference being that only peasants work on their bike as their time is worth far more! Fast forward to the back of Falls, miles from any help where they plaintively call on you to assist put their broken chain back together.

  • Stephen Salter

    one recommended addendum to the ‘about the author’: “And now she’s an Ella columnist too, quickly proving to be one of the best writers in the cycling publication peloton.

  • Gold! I’m slightly embarrassed that I can closely relate to much of what Mara has to say.

    • Grego

      Yes, lots of these resonate with my own personal experience, and likely that of many experienced cyclists. Lovely, funny article, Mara–Thanks!

    • jules

      i had to true that front wheel you sold me. runs like a dream now :)

  • Lulu

    This article made me laugh. My only trick is learning to take my tyres off every now and again and take out all the small bits of glass. My problem is that my husband is faster and more efficient than me at all bike maintenance, plus he has mastered the art of including extra stuff with his online ordering so not only do spare parts for the bike fleet arrive, but they often turn up with extra non mechanical stuff (mostly for him). The main thing he has taught me is to clean my bikes! I am trained into cleaning my chain and frame, and wheel rims. I can change a tube and also brake pads. He has read the art of bicycle maintenance and now that our house bike fleet is at 10+ I guess the extra stuff that turns up is justified. My six year old knows which way to take off pedals (reverse thread on left – I can’t remember!) – but there is no hope for me.

    • Winky

      The simple way to remeber the pedal thread direction is that they both tighten in the direction that you pedal!

  • markpa

    I’m involved with an org. similar to Bristol Bike project mentioned earlier – Hobart Bike Kitchen. As suggested it’s a great way to improve your bike mechanic skills.
    So I was somewhat embarrassed to notice this morning that I’d replaced brake pads back to front and instead of being pushed home they were pushed halfway out.

  • jules

    i love bike repairs, it’s part of cycling for me just as riding is. i’ve messed up and broken just about everything at one point in time. there are no short cuts or magic solutions to learning. you learn from your mistakes. it never gets easier, you just collect more tools.

    • Gordon

      Learning from mistakes is very important and I have even found a novel solution. My LBS
      Fortunately I have a good LBS for those items I’m too afraid to tackle. In the process of building up a Gios I scored NOS Campy groupset from 1999. I got him to break the chain (I have done plenty on my old bikes but just didn’t want to stuff it up) and same for a NOS Regina chain and clamp on front derailieur on a beautiful Benotto (I wasn’t game to clamp in the wrong spot). If the frame was tatty no problems.
      So basically I have learned when not to be an idiot and to not tackle some items after a cleansing ale. Holy heck it has been and exhausting process though, not to mention swearing, bleeding, pinch blisters….
      Agreed about more tools, and better ones. “The right tool for the right job” unfortunately I am often the wrong tool in the wrong place at the wrong time

      • jules

        yeah learning on your new Super Record gruppo isn’t ideal. i have a few bikes and the cheaper ones are obviously best for that. despite what I said above – it is hard to break stuff though, generally.

        • Gordon

          What is your definition of break though, does it include scratch, chip, bend, make basically useless or that classic strip thread? If yes I have broken many things, if no I agree it is hard to break…properly.
          Again thanks to CT for some much needed diversion from my disastrous few days at work.

          • Simon

            The first chip is the deepest……!

    • erin_2503

      “you just collect more tools” – yup!

  • eatmorelard

    One of the great things we can do as the cycling community is help others learn. That’s across the whole spectrum of cycling – from etiquette to home wrench. I’ve learnt pretty much all I know from others and try to pay that forward whenever I can. I still have my share of stuff ups that send me off to the LBS and I still can’t true a wheel. Still learning and always will be.

  • Annie.

    Thanks a lot for the open words (and the laugh)!

  • some1s_lucky

    Bike shops that offer repair courses are to be applauded. These are tailored to get you out of those sticky situations that you might encounter on the road/trail etc. Being self sufficient is is a great feeling and probably resembles that feeling of independence when you first learnt to ride a bike. But like most things there are always times to visit you LBS mechanic. That creak, scrape, squeak or shudder could be sign of the most dramatic failure about to happen. I helped a friend recently whose front brake was causing an awful shudder. After checking bolt tightness, headset bearings etc the fault was discovered. A broken fork at the bottom crown race. The bike was seriously one heavy brake away from catastrophe.

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