Riding a bicycle is one of the best healthy activities you can take part in. It allows you to spend time outdoors, exercising your muscles and enjoying the fresh air and natural surroundings. However, you can also experience punctures, slipped chains and misaligned frames. Many bicycle online stores stock extensive repair kits, but new cyclists may not know how to use them during repairs. Outlined below are three of the most common repairs bike owners have to make.
Fix a flat
One of the most common issues that cyclists have to deal with is a flat tyre. Online bicycle shops in South Africa stock basic puncture repair kits which will come in handy to any puncture needs. Outlined below is the process of fixing a flat tyre:
- Open the bicycle wheel quick release, remove the tyre and let the remaining air out of the tyre by releasing the valve. Push the metal valve up into the tyre so it does not stick out on the inside of the tyre.
- Wedge two or three tyre wedges under the edge of the tyre, until it pops out of the wheel rim. If you do not have tyre wedges, this can be done with thumbs and a little bit of elbow grease.
- Take out the inner tube, being sure to lift it over the valve to avoid further punctures. To find the hole, it is best to look out for objects sticking out of the inner tube or tyre, such as small rocks, glass or a nail. Be careful when removing sharp objects as you could injure yourself in the process.
- Inflate the new inner tube to halfway, so it has some shape. Reverse the process above by sliding the inner tube into the outer tyre.
- Place the tyre edge back into the rim and use a tyre pump to inflate the whole thing to the correct pressure and size for your needs. Don’t forget to close the quick release valve once you are done.
Degreasing your chain
Another common problem that cyclists face is a chain that is not shifting correctly or skipping a lot. This can make changing gears highly difficult and can even result in an accident if left for too long. The way to fix this issue is to degrease your chain, as outlined below:
- First, clean, rinse and dry your chain and cassette, either using professional cleaning aids from bicycle online stores or simply with a scrubbing brush and dishwashing liquid.
- Apply one drop of bicycle lubricant onto each roller, at the same time turning the cranks backwards for two or three rotations. Be careful of not pinching your hands and fingers as you do this, which can be quite painful.
- Using a clean rag or towel, gently grip the chain’s outer plates as you spin the cranks for one final rotation. Keep going until you have wiped off all of the excess lubricant. Note that it should be mostly on the inside of the chain not on the outside where it can collect dirt and cause a repeat issue.
Reattach a slipped chain
A chain that keeps slipping off can turn a pleasant afternoon ride into a nightmare experience. It can be dangerous if you are riding on uneven or rocky terrain and can cause irritation if you are trying to train for an event. To reattach a slipped chain, follow the advice below:
- When a chain falls out, it usually falls out of the rear cogset or front chainring, which is part of the crank. Check these both for damages before progressing with replacing the chain.
- Once you are sure that there is no damage to the chain itself or to the parts that hold it, place the chain in the bottom groove in the rear cog first.
- When the chain is attached to the cog, drape the chain over the teeth found on the top of the front chainring. This needs to be done carefully, as you could risk tangling the chain or causing extra damage to the chainring.
- The final step is to try to re-establish a connection between the rear cogset and front chainring. Once the chain is in the correct place, turn the pedal forward slowly, pulling the chain around the chainring and back to the cogset.
Keep your bike maintained
One of the best ways to ensure that you do not have to perform any repairs on your bike is to maintain and clean it regularly. This means washing it down after using it in a muddy terrain and lubricating the chain on a weekly basis to ensure it does not slip or become dirty. Remember to take a puncture repair kit with you on every ride, in case of emergency and always wear a helmet when you go riding.