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View Full Version : What type of repairs do you typically consider DIY and what do you get a pro to fix?



SteveTheTech
05-27-2011, 05:52 PM
Hi all,

I'm pretty new around here and I did try searching but there was nothing quite relevant to what I am curious about.

I am also new to cycling and buying road bikes. So here is a little bit of how my spring went.

We had a meh experience buying my wifes bike from the LBS. The people where nice but I was pretty let down by their mechanical skill. We spent some serious time talking to the guys at the LBS about what we needed for what we where training to do. They made accommodations in tire selection and saddle choice but had sub standard quality control. They left a crankset bearing cap off and really botched the install of the front derailleur cable. The owner of the place was embarrassed and fixed it personally on the spot.

My bike came in a box from the internet. I assembled it in about 45 minutes after work one day. Figuring out how to inflate Presta valves was the biggest issue I ran into, and I've never built a road bike before, several cheap bikes in my teens. I'm a master auto tech so I have a fair degree of mechanical prowess and I have an annoying service standard, being in the industry. I figured the easiest bet would be to learn to fix them myself. It doesn't require many more tools than most of us have already, at least if your familiar with Ikea.

So back to the reason for this thread.
Recently I wanted to get rid of the crap Sora shifters on the mrs' bike. Parts + Labor of this would have cost about $450 from the lbs.....that's about half the value of the bike...not really worth it IMO. The internet had several listings for about $200 for a triple, and not even from ebay. The installation took almost no time, the cables were easy to route using the existing casing through the handlebars. Having an indoor trainer makes adjustment really easy setting the timing myself allowed me learn just about timing and settings. I can tell you from my experience doing it the second time was much easier, it is a really good upgrade and worth every penny so far.

Next up is the front derailleur also a Sora and it is just not working with the Tiagra shifters like I would really like it too, it's just not a crisp shift. My bike (purchased for ~$120 less than hers) has a Tiagra/105 set and shifts perfectly, with only minor adjustments for break in cable stretch.

So now we are less than 2 weeks out from the BikeMS event we have been training for. A rough guess would be we have put about 500 miles on these split about 60/40 indoor/outdoor. The rear tires show no significant wear, the wheels appear to have no runout there are no vibrations at higher speeds. The chains are slightly dirty but have not had to many direct hits. As far as stretch I am not really sure and might replace them if I hit the parts store.

So what do you guys do before a ride...a better question would be what should I check out on my wifes bike?
Do you all clean your chains?
If so how frequently?
Realistic tire life and chain life span?

Several hours of sustained riding will take its toll on something and I'd like to either have one in my bag.

Cheers,

ronwalf
05-27-2011, 07:31 PM
What type of repairs do you typically consider DIY and what do you get a pro to fix?

Half the fun for me is doing my own work. I research the repair online (Sheldon, usually), buy the parts, and either fix it at home if I have the parts or at one of the local co-ops. I've been burned by this occasionally, but it's usually only with the cheaper parts.



Do you all clean your chains?
If so how frequently?
Realistic tire life and chain life span?

Modern tires might last a couple thousand miles? It depends on the tire, the terrain and you. (also, Sheldon's answer (http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tires.html#wear)).
I "clean" my chain by wiping it down well, applying oil, and wiping again whenever it starts squeaking, which after every wet ride. This is essentially chain abuse, so please don't tell the CPS (chain-protective services). I might get a thousand miles out of it this way.

CCrew
05-27-2011, 08:48 PM
I do all my own work. I grew up in a family where my father owned a high end machine shop, so the concept of having other people fix things wasn't in my upbringing.

Tires are dependent on what you buy, but my experience is that they'll last 2k miles on the minimum.

Chains are based on stretch, but that will be hastened by inadequate maintenance. Chains don't in reality stretch... they wear on the pins and in the holes the pins ride in causing the chain to elongate. I'm anal about mine - for the most part pulled and cleaned about every two weeks or less. More because I'm OCD about clean, and also because I like a dead silent bike. I put SRAM Powerlinks in my chains, pull them and throw them in a coffee can with mineral spirits to soak, and then wipe, install and relube. I won't even start the great holy war about what lube to use. That's like having a coke vs. Pepsi argument. For me it's Boeshield T-9 but use what you're happy with.

Dirt
05-28-2011, 06:06 AM
I do almost everything myself. I haven't built any bike frames YET. That will likely happen next year.

Chain wear: Buy yourself a chain wear gauge. It tells you exactly how much life is left in your chain and when you should change it. Park makes a nice one. Many other companies do too. They're easy to use. If you let your chain go too long the cogs and chainrings will wear in accordance with the stretched chain and then you'll be forced to replace all three. Change your chain often and you'll get many more miles out of your cogs and chainrings and save yourself hundreds of dollars.

Buy a bike repair book. Leonard Zinn has two good ones. Go to a book store and start reading and see if it makes sense. Sheldon Brown (may he rest in peace) may be gone, but his web site lives on at www.sheldonbrown.com. His web site answers questions you didn't know exist, as well as a bunch that you probably did.

Lots of things people often overlook: A semi-avid cyclist (someone who rides 3 or more times per week) should change their cable housing AND cables once per year. Having the right housing length is extremely important in getting things to shift correctly. Clean chains help the drivetrain last much longer.

Bike Cleaning: I actually use a bucket of soapy water and Dawn dishwashing soap to clean my drivetrain. Citrus degreaser also helps when they're really bad. I spray down the bike with a garden hose to knock off the big chunks of dirt. I take a long-handled, soft bristled brush and wash off the bike. I then rinse it with the garden hose. I spray the drivetrain with a bit of degreaser if it is really gunked up. Let it sit a minute or two. I then take a different long-handled brush... one with a little stiffer bristles if possible. and I brush the cogs and chainrings while pedaling backwards. This cleans the chain on both sides as well as the cogs and chainrings. Dip the brush in the soapy water often. After I'm done, I rinse the whole bike from top to bottom and wipe it down with a soft cloth. I wipe down the drivetrain with a shop rag. I take a little household cleaner and spray it on a rag and wipe down the rim surfaces. This cleans off any grease or grit that might have washed onto them while you were cleaning the drivetrain.

I do this every 5-10 rides on my fancy-pants road bikes. Since they only get ridden on Sundays, it isn't very often. My work-horse bike is an old, fixed-gear bike that gets abused. I lube the chain when it squeaks. I clean it off when it gets disgusting to me or if I have to change the brake pads. That's it. I ride that bike because it requires very little maintenance.

Things to note about this process:
1) Never spray a hard stream of water on any bearings on the frame. That means the hubs, bottom bracket, derailleurs, etc. Use a gentle misting... just enough force to get the soap and standing grunge off the bike.
2) If you have fancy-pants wheels... with rims made from carbon fiber, clean those separately and very gently. Mild soap on a soft rag is best and then water on a soft rag and then dry them. It is easy to get water into carbon rims and hard to get it out. Aluminum rims are generally a little more forgiving plus they are much less expensive.

Two more general things to note as you work.
1) Modern bikes like torque wrenches. Most parts on a light weight bike will come with torque specs. They are measured in oz/in or newton/meters. Rarely are they measured in foot/pounds. Ritchey makes a 4mm hex key torque wrench set to 5.5nm (a common setting) for about $20. It is awesome. As you know, torque wrenches can be very expensive and are usually as good as their price. Park makes a nice one for bikes. There's an Italian company that makes a great one specifically for bikes too.
2) kind of related to 1: Don't force things. Brute force is rarely required with bikes. You know this already 'cause you're an auto tech and you can tell the difference between what needs muscle and what does not. This is more aimed at others who will read this thread down the road. The day of fixed BB cups and freewheel removal that requires a lot of muscle are gone from the world of modern bikes. If you're having to exert a lot of force, you're doing something wrong.
3) Tools help. A good set of cable housing cutters make a huge difference. That's the tool that I use the most on a bike that I don't on a car. Bottom brackets cogs have a few specialized tools, too. That's mostly it for bike-specific tools.
4) Your brake pads have a wear line. Change them often... before they get to that wear line is good. Stopping is important. Don't postpone that change.

Good luck.

Pete

CCrew
05-28-2011, 11:27 AM
As you know, torque wrenches can be very expensive and are usually as good as their price. Park makes a nice one for bikes. There's an Italian company that makes a great one specifically for bikes too.


Don't rule out Craftsmen also. There's nothing magical in bike mechanics, although the companies like Park do make bike specific tools like cassette removal tools, etc. But if you only intend to use the stuff occasionally the Spin Doctor stuff from Performance can be a viable alternative.

Mark Blacknell
05-28-2011, 02:29 PM
I love reading a thread, starting to compile an answer, and then seeing that Dirt has saved me the trouble.

All I would add is:

1) if you bought your bikes this spring, your chain is fine.
2) In my view, about 95% of imaginable bike maintenance/fixes can be accomplished with a relatively cheap set of tools. At this point, the only reason I need a shop is to chase/face my BB, remove a fork's crown race, or straighten a hanger. (And I think I'm about to address that last one). I doubt I've got more than a couple/few hundred dollars worth of tools. And you can manage about 75% of expected issues with less than $50 worth of tools, I'd bet.

SteveTheTech
05-28-2011, 08:07 PM
You all are great, thanks for the input.

Sheldon Browns' passion and knowledge will carry on more through his website more than it could have via any method. I
would like to leave a small mark on the world with only a fraction of the usefulness of his site.

Tools are something I can really get into, although I am fairly lax about using a torque wrench when making minor adjustments I have spent a decade tightening things with hand tools enough to know where 15 in/lbs should be. If I where to install the Ritchey carbon bars then I'd probably buy that tool as it would be useful, but most of the allen keys I come across are 5mm.
(it's a pretty neat tool though, http://www.greentirebikes.com/tl3303.html). Beam torque wrenches are not worth relying on as the price of those reflects that. (http://www.greentirebikes.com/torque-wrenches.html -just a reference not a recommendation) and even an entry level basic click wrench from Harbor Freight.
http://www.harborfreight.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/370x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/i/m/image_95.jpg
(http://www.harborfreight.com/1-4-quarter-inch-drive-click-stop-torque-wrench-2696.html)
This one's only $20

I might get one of each of that one and a 3/8" for that price, just to have one at home.

ParkTool has some good specialty tools but I would not get into their hand and regular tools as they are pricier than their quality tends to warrant. But as noted the torque requirements are fairly low. I do not have a bike stand but I made one that fits in my vice at work from an old axle. Harbor Freight ftw.

Pete- I enjoyed reading your cleaning regiment I assumed that was how you clean all of your bikes...I looked over and wondered if mine wanted to go outside and meet the garden hose. lol. I've got a half a bottle of window tint film solution still mixed up I think I am going to use for this weeks post ride clean. The tint solution I am currently using only Johnsons Baby shampoo and water. I keep a bunch of microfiber towels around for all types of non marking cleaning and that should work. Maybe a little canuba wax will keep some of the gunk from sticking.

I've been going through YouTubes vast cycle repair sections. There are many techniques that seem much less complicated when you watch someone do it. Google has provided hours worth of material to research.

The opinions on tires seem to vary and it really seems like wear is the best judge. My biggest fear still remains blowing one as far from the car as possible. Some people use separate wheels indoors but my wheels to bike ratio must remain 1:1...at least only 1 set per year.

CCrew
05-28-2011, 09:58 PM
Maybe a little canuba wax will keep some of the gunk from sticking.

Just a tip from someone who's anal about a clean bike. Pledge furniture polish rocks versus car wax.

And beware of Simple Green. Good stuff but it is caustic to aluminum.

-Roger

JimF22003
05-29-2011, 01:12 AM
When I was in highschool (in the 70's, ahem) I used to be able to tear my Campagnolo-equipped bike down to the last bearing and put it back together again. Now I'm afraid to touch half the stuff on my bike. I can do cassette changes, chain changes, pedal and saddle swaps, and brake pads, and minor derailleur adjustments. Anything else just gives me the willies :)

I bought a fancy Parktool torque wrench a couple of weeks ago because I got a new seatpost, and was afraid of over-torquing the seatpost collar. For some reason I was expecting that when the torque wrench hit the limit it would sort of "ratchet" multiple times like a freewheel or something. Instead it just makes a single "click" to tell you it went over the limit. So like a dummy when mine did the "click" I just kept turning. Sort of defeats the purpose http://bikearlingtonforum.com/images/icons/icon4.gif

SteveTheTech
05-29-2011, 07:14 PM
Just a tip from someone who's anal about a clean bike. Pledge furniture polish rocks versus car wax.

And beware of Simple Green. Good stuff but it is caustic to aluminum.

-Roger

Now that is priceless info right, there. Kudos to you good sir. I will be trying that. http://www.fireflyfans.net/smiley%5Ccheers.gif


Instead it just makes a single "click" to tell you it went over the limit. So like a dummy when mine did the "click" I just kept turning. Sort of defeats the purpose

I did the same thing when I purchased my last click style torque wrench with a wheels' worth of lug nuts. It took me several tries to be able to feel the click. About a dozen or so uses into it the click was a bit more audible...either that or I just gained a little more experience.

Dirt
05-31-2011, 08:27 AM
Steve: You expressed concern about tires and getting flats way out away from the car. There are definitely things you can do to help with that. Flat tires are probably the repair that needs to be done most often with bicycles. It is important that you have the supplies (tube/patch kit), tools (tire levers... GOOD ONES!) and skills to fix a flat. Have a little duct tape around your pump in case you damage the sidewall on your tire. The duct tape goes on the inside and can help you limp home. A dollar bill folded twice works for that too. I once rode home with a $20 poking out the sidewall of the tire for lack of smaller change.

Tire choice can also help. Light-weight racy tires are great, but they are a bit more fragile and wear faster than bomb-proof touring/commuting tires. I love my Continental 4000s and GP's, but they are not as durable nor as flat resistant as others. I get between 3000 and 5000 miles out of a set of lightweight ubertires.

For commuting and general errand running I use something much more durable. Continental Gatorskins, Specialized Armadillos (the more expensive of the 2 models) and anything in the Schwalbe Marathon series have worked PERFECTLY for me over the year. I got almost 20,000 miles on my last set of Armadillos with ZERO flats. I took them off not because they looked worn out, but because they got to the age where their rolling resistance was noticeably slowing me down. I ran a set of Schwalbe Marathon Extreme on my cargo bike for over 4000 miles last year... many miles were with the bike fully loaded (and a few with the rider fully loaded) and the tires show no wear at all. I got one flat when I pinch-flatted while hopping up a curb while carrying 200 pounds of mulch. Definitely user error.

The commuting/touring tires definitely do not roll as fast as the racing tires. They sometimes weigh twice as much. That trade-off is definitely something worth considering... especially when you own 1 set of wheels.

SteveTheTech
05-31-2011, 06:43 PM
It really is a shame this forum doesn't have a points system. As usual that was an epic post. The dollar bill trick sounds perfect for the type of damage I fear.

I currently have a set of Conti Ultra Race with. They have lost only 1.5 lbs of inflation pressure over the last three months and almost 500 miles and have only a small bit of wear from the heat of my (cheap) trainer. These tires are so much better than their car tires. There are many spots where I should have destroyed them (as a former MTB and bmx rider I tend to try to jump over things, not worrying about breaking a spoke) but I personally think the tires have saved me.

In the future I be going with Gatorskins as replacements. I would sacrifice some rolling resistance for a rayon band and some added weight, I'll bump the air pressure a few for a longer ride. I do the same thing with vehicle tires. Tires and brakes are two things to never compromise with in any vehicle.

The emphasis on good tire levers sounds like it comes with a really crappy story...I've got blue plastic Park Tool ones for both beaded sets of wheels...whether those will work more than once I am not sure...hopefully it will be some time before they get tested.

Dirt
06-01-2011, 08:12 AM
The emphasis on good tire levers sounds like it comes with a really crappy story...I've got blue plastic Park Tool ones for both beaded sets of wheels...whether those will work more than once I am not sure...hopefully it will be some time before they get tested.
For most humans, normal tire levers work fine. It is my dumb luck that I find a tire/rim combination that is particularly tight. I put a set of Vittoria touring tires on my fixie wheels (Kind of obscure Eighth Inch Julian rims.) and those suckers were IMPOSSIBLE to get off with normal tire levers. I ended up buying a set of Lyzene aluminum tire levers specifically for those wheels. They were strong enough, but were still not easy to use. The death of that tire/rim combination came on a day where I belatedly found that there was a problem with the rim causing repeated flats. When the tire went flat for the second time that day I was so tired and annoyed that I decided to hammer home with a flat tire. It was only 9 miles home and I'd lost my patience with those tires. The wheels were the ones from my WBUI (Wheels Built Under the Influence) challenge (another long story there) so I didn't think they'd mind dieing a warrior's death.

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5254/5492838959_399de20c9b_b.jpg
This is me around 6 miles from the house.

When I got home, I realized the fridge was empty, so I got back on the bike and rode 3 miles to my favorite restaurant... back tire still flat. So I ended up with about 15 miles for the day on a flat rear tire.

If you're really bored, you can read the dramatized version on my much-neglected blog: http://ausoe.blogspot.com/2011/03/air-is-for-wimps.html

I guess the lesson from this story is that you don't actually need good tire levers. You don't need tire levers at all.

Pete

PS: Don't try this at home if you've got a front flat. figuring out the handling is hard enough with the back wheel flopping all over the place. Even I'm not stupid enough to hammer 15 miles home and to dinner with a front flat. I'd definitely have to slow down quite a bit. ;)

OneEighth
06-01-2011, 08:31 AM
This is where one of two redeeming features of tubulars comes to mind. Unfortunately, we full on into the non-redeeming features for about a day and a half after that...

Dirt
06-01-2011, 09:09 AM
This is where one of two redeeming features of tubulars comes to mind. Unfortunately, we full on into the non-redeeming features for about a day and a half after that...
I'm building a set of carbon tubulars for some fixie centuries this summer. Hopefully I don't need to take advantage of that feature. On the good side, I found some red, white and blue mud-flap girlie stickers for them. They're gonna be sexy. (Editor's note: I'm not gonna say what parts of the sticker are strips and what parts are stripes.)

Back on topic, sort-of: Conti makes Gatorskin tubulars that are FREAKING AWESOME!!!! I've got about 1500 creamy, smooth miles on them and they're still super juicy. I'm one of those weirdos that actually enjoys gluing tubular tires.

Mark Blacknell
06-01-2011, 02:15 PM
Will someone please take the custard font color away from our Most Senior Member?

(And next time I see Dirt rolling for miles on a flat I'm calling Wheel Protective Services on him.)

Joe Chapline
06-01-2011, 06:31 PM
It really is a shame this forum doesn't have a points system. As usual that was an epic post.

You can rate the whole thread, though. I haven't noticed that anyone has used that feature.

I just rated it, so this thread has FIVE stars, while all other threads have NO stars.

PrintError
06-02-2011, 05:33 AM
Like so many others in this thread, I'm 100% DIY. When I cracked the frame on my MTB a few years ago, I stripped it, bought 100% new components, then threw out the frame too and built a new bike from scratch. It's survived a few hundred miles of winter commuting (on ice and snow), so it's held up nicely. Through four years of full-time bike commuting, I haven't taken any of the bikes to the shop yet. It's all easy to fix once you do it a few times.

I'm the same way with cars. In the 14 years I've been driving, I've never taken a car to a mechanic. Not once, not for anything. You save a FORTUNE knowing how to DIY this stuff, and most of it is easy easy easy.

Dirt
06-02-2011, 10:28 AM
Will someone please take the custard font color away from our Most Senior Member?

(And next time I see Dirt rolling for miles on a flat I'm calling Wheel Protective Services on him.)

It's Lemon Chiffon, you pedestrian! I mean that in the nicest way.

SteveTheTech
06-02-2011, 04:53 PM
You can rate the whole thread, though. I haven't noticed that anyone has used that feature.

I just rated it, so this thread has FIVE stars, while all other threads have NO stars.

Hahaha, Yeah I saw that but i thought it would be kind egotistical to rate a thread I started.
One of the car forums I participate in that has a thanks feature in the the lower right segment, but they use some weird forum software.
Good Lookin out, great forum you've got here.

I wasn't sure if this a five star thread though? I was thinking 4 maybe it's pretty close to internet gold but there is always a little room for improvement :)



I'm the same way with cars. In the 14 years I've been driving, I've never taken a car to a mechanic. Not once, not for anything. You save a FORTUNE knowing how to DIY this stuff, and most of it is easy easy easy.

Now I actively support being an educated driver/owner/DIYer but there is an area where being thrifty might jeopardize you and your families safety. Brakes, wheels and tires are things that directly effect the vehicles safety, and should never be altered unless the person has the right tools and no how to start and finish the . Stopping is much more important than starting. Being able to DIY everything on your car was something my father did and still does, but he has been having trouble on anything post 2000. The Check Engine Light is not a 30000 mile light like I used to hear people say, it tends to mean something, that has been his biggest hurdle. With (good) forums and service manuals you can fix anything, but any good technician knows when to ask for help.

Being easy is relative though depending on what your driving.

KLizotte
06-09-2011, 11:22 PM
To Dirt:

Oh my god! Even your bike is pink!!

You are one committed person. :cool:

Dirt
06-10-2011, 08:19 AM
You are one committed person. :cool:
Many have suggested that I be committed. ;)

The security guys at the office derive much entertainment from commenting on my outfits and bicycle choices. "Does your sister know you stole her bike?" is my current fave. :D

I've always had at least one pink bike. They're fun! They make people smile.

SteveTheTech
07-26-2011, 03:57 PM
To bump an old thread with some new info.

Wheel truing. That's one thing I failed at today and had to get help.

I hit a pothole this morning and felt an odd shimmy in my rear, but I was on a mile and a half from work.

I have a small truing tool and tried to pull it back in line and forced it much farther out. I managed to make a small problem much worse...then I loosened everything and started fresh, got it enough to get home with.
Having a work stand at work can be a bad thing some times. lol

Dirt
07-26-2011, 04:30 PM
Console yourself, pothole-induced wheel wobbles are often structural challenges to rims that are very tricky to fix for amateur mechanics. No shame in enlisting a pro for that fix.

SteveTheTech
07-26-2011, 05:15 PM
I'm one of those people that can read something a dozen times but will learn from actually getting in there and trying it.

It started with a slight axial wobble of maybe 0.030". After I tried making a slight adjustment to pull it the other way. I somehow managed to pull the rim out of round. That was pretty much the point I knew it was done.I went back and returned the adjusted ones back to where they started...and it was worse...I spent about and hour and a half screwing with it. That was about the point at which I began to get the eye twitch that is usually followed by damaging something. I tend to attack things with the mentality of I'm a master auto mechanic, I can fix this Especially with a bike they are slower and much simpler but still so damned picky. :)

Going forward I plan on reconstructing the attempts I have made

Time to fetch my wheel (and maybe some Rocklands)

SteveTheTech
07-26-2011, 08:09 PM
Aww it had too much lateral runout for the shop to straighten it.

I did get a good deal on a Mavic Aksium replacement. Seems a little stronger (read as heavy) but hopefully it will fare better lugging my fat a*s around.

CCrew
07-26-2011, 09:55 PM
Aww it had too much lateral runout for the shop to straighten it.

I did get a good deal on a Mavic Aksium replacement. Seems a little stronger (read as heavy) but hopefully it will fare better lugging my fat a*s around.

Aksiums are frigging bulletproof. Had a set on my Cross bike for a while. Curbs, offroad, still were as true as the day they were new 5k miles later.

SteveTheTech
07-27-2011, 05:44 PM
http://forums.nicoclub.com/images/smilies/thewave.gif

That's Badass, The dead wheel was an AlexRim A500 (worst reviewed wheel ever!).

I hope my wheels hold up that long. I plan on getting a mate for the new wheel next time I head down there.
This time I don't know that I will really mess with it...although I just need to tinker with things. That was the only major thing I have not tried to do (or at least something that doesn't translate to something on a car).