May is National Bike Month and Los Angeles devoted this week to Bike Week LA where residents are encouraged to ride bikes to work. A great perk is that anyone with a bike gets free rides on Metro busses and trains for the day to help get passed a rough riding spot, like Sepulveda Pass. I conduct as much of my day-to-day business and personal errands on the bike. Like a car, the more you use it, the more moving parts will require your regular attention to assure a safe and trouble free ride.
I found a donation based bike repair shop made possible by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition called Bici-Libre. The technicians are there to teach and guide you through your maintenance and repair items. Bici-Libre’s goal is to make you a self-sufficient bicycle technician so any time you need something fixed you can bring it in and do-it-yourself. While I don’t have the Midas touch when it comes to using a screw driver and a wrench, I learned how to remove, install and tighten spokes, straighten my rim, tighten the crank (pedals), fix a flat, adjust my brakes and gears to name a few. Here are some how-tos, tips and tricks I learned from my first time at Bici-Libre.
Fixing a flat tire
Luckily, I travelled by Metro Rapid 720 with my bike to Bici-Libre, since my front tire had a nail stuck well into the soon to be flat tire. This was a teachable moment for me to find, prep, patch the leak and properly taking the tire and tube off/on. Check out this video for a great demonstration:
How to Change a Flat Bike Tire — powered by ehow
First check that the brake pads are not rubbing either side of the rim. Make sure each brake pad has the same gap so that they touch the rim at the same time for even wear. Make sure you are pulling your brake lever only 1/4 to 1/2 way to the grip. If that is not the case, check the barrel adjuster where the cable meets the brake grip. Turn the adjuster counter-clockwise to pull the cable tighter which should bring the brake arms closer to the wheel. Take a look at this video for a demonstration and more ways to adjust your brakes:
Adjust gears with limit screws which are located on the derailleur, front and rear. This adjustment determines the side-to-side limits of how the derailleur can travel from lowest to highest gears. The lower screw affects the in-board movement to the lowest gear of the cassette (closest to the wheel) while the higher screw affects the out-board movement to the highest gear (furthest from the wheel). The barrel adjusters take care of the gears in the middle range of the cassette, run through the gears down and up the range. You will notice if there is a hesitation or shifts more than one cog. Hesitation means you need counter clockwise and add tension, then check on low to high. See the video below for a demonstration of this and more ways to adjust gears:
I really appreciate all of the time and effort that the technicians/volunteers at Bici-Libre have provided to me. I feel empowered knowing how to adjust and possibly even fix my own bike.
When you are traveling by bicycle and you need to know the most bicycle-friendly route, check out Google Bike Maps.
Happy National Bike Month – GreenUp! Guy