Sunday, 7 February 2016

Teach Yourself The Art Of Bicycle Mechanics

Why Do It Yourself? 
There are many reasons to learn a new skill or expand on your experiences, whether you want to be a home mechanic or a professional. The main reason being you can teach yourself, so you’ll at least be able to do the basic servicing your bicycle requires so that your bike(s) run smoothly. Also able to troubleshoot basic problems when they arise and you’ll have the sense of achievement that you did it.
By taking the time to get a grasp of how your bicycle works together to make it move, you might even acquire a taste for mechanics and embark on a whole new career path.

"On the average, it takes 2 years to become a fully qualified bicycle mechanic and specialist may require additional training & experience"

A person with good manual dexterity and a desire to figure out problems often has what it takes to become a mechanic. This also requires an ability to stay current with bicycle technologies and product knowledge.

At a very young age, I was taking home old bikes, I brought or swapped from friends, to a shed I had in my garden. I would strip the parts off the bikes with my Dad's tools and even strip off all the old paint from the frames. I would be in that shed for hours! My Dad would take me to the local bike shop and I would buy tins of spray paint and repaint the frames and build the bikes back up. I got known in my village and I was soon fixing my friends bikes, my teacher would send me home, as my hands were covered in oil! My Dad brought my first tool kit at the age of 10 years and I still have those tools today.
Less about me, this post is about you teaching yourself, that little story is to let you know, it takes time learning anything new and dedication to do things to your best ability. And I am still learning new things today, the bicycle is always being redeveloped by the manufactures in the hope to sell more bikes and of course new technology. But it's about having a mechanical understanding.

Over the past few years, people have not been passing on the skills to their children, in-fact there is a lack of those leaving school and willing to learn skills using their hands.
Many new houses are built very small and no room for a shed, making it difficult to peruse any type of DIY work. Also having a family there is no spare cash and many things are cheaper to throw away and buy new. But there is a comeback, British bike manufactures are reporting a rising demand. And Britain is world known for making quality frames and parts that last.

How do you go about making a DIY mechanic out of yourself?
You should buy yourself a couple of books that explain each concept in an easy-to-digest way, with an illustrated guide. Then build your skills by buying an old bike, some tools and have a go! But Most people however prefer to take a short course in mechanics and instead of reading by themselves, turn to the internet. The only problem being, there are several wanna-be mechanics who have uploaded instructions that are not always clear and correct.

"Study manuals to learn to repair certain problems".

Bicycle Maintenance Books & Documents
By reading books on bicycle maintenance will give you a better understanding.

  • Books such as - Zinn and The Art of Bicycle Maintenance. Road & Mountain Bike and Parktool Big Blue Book Of Bicycle Repair.
  • Free On-line PDF's - Bicycle Maintenance Made Easy  - Bicycle Repair & Maintenance For Dummies - And my favourite read Barnett's Bicycle Repair Manuel There are also PDF's you can search on wheel building.
  • Videos - YouTube- ParkTook and also buy DVD: Fundamentals The Mountain Bike Technique Video, that includes; Bike set-up; Frame prep, Installation, disc brakes and bleeding, chain length, indexing and suspension. Learn to build your own bike and maintain it. Buy From Amazon
  • ParkTool - Repair Help A large database of how to fix and maintain your bicycle.
  • Manuals and parts diagrams - First try looking on the manufactures website and look under technical help/support. 
Before you embark on mastering the art of bicycle mechanics and working on your bicycle, always follow the manufactures instructions for each component. It would be great if you could get your hands on the manual or even better the parts diagram which will show an exploded view, that will give you an idea how things come apart and go back together.

"Learn the bike frame tube names and components"

The Bike Shed
For the simplest of repairs and adjustments you do not require a workshop.

Ideally you need space to work on your bike or better still a permanent place. "The Bike Shed" That you can build a work area to include a work bench, a tool board and space to store your bike(s).
Better still, have a radio, coffee machine, heater and a sofa, to make it more comfortable. Don't forget to wear old cloths and use a good hand cleaner after working on your bike. 
Start by buying tools required to the tasks you feel you have confidence in doing. You can slowly build your tool kit with the more experience you gain. The most obvious tasks being; Changing a tyre/tube, inflating your tyres regularly, cleaning and lubricating, looking for safety issues before setting off, adjusting brakes and gear cables.
You will also need somewhere to store your tools; a tool roll, tool box or a tool board, to keep your tools clean and easy to find. Also somewhere to store small parts! You need to treat your tools the same as you would your lover.

"Learn how to use hand tools commonly used by bicycle mechanics".

Some of the advanced tool kit - in a tool roll, that can be laid on a work bench or hung on a wall.

Once you start buying tools it can become addiction, so start by buying only tools that will have significant use. You can always take your bike frame to your local bike shop or call a mobile mechanic to do the little jobs that use the big expensive tools. Like bottom bracket re threading and facing tool. I have the full set of tools as my livelihood depends on it and I do see a return on most of the tools I have. Even tools wear out and need replacing. For tools that are used regularly like hex keys I buy the very best quality for a good fit and long life.

"Use the right tool for the right job, if it don't fit don't force it!"

Some suggestions:
  1. Basic tools: For on the road repairs, tyre replacements and simple adjustments. View HERE 
  2. Home Mechanic tools: For a bit more complex, and if you can create a well-organized workspace with a work bench. Keeping your workspace organized is probably the best way to make maintenance and repair easy. View HERE
  3. The Advanced Mechanic tools: A full range of tools to work on different type of bicycles and perform more complex jobs. Where a clean and tidy workshop is a must. View HERE
Each kit will also require extra items to be purchased as required.
1. Basic tools plus a track pump and a pump for carry with you or on your bike. Bike wash kit and lubrication
2. Home Mechanics Tools plus Bike work stand
3. The Advanced Mechanics Tools plus wheel truing stand

See the complete list of bicycle tool manufactures HERE 

Continue building your skills by obtaining formal training.
Training programs are often recommended due to the increasing complexity in the field.

A formal program provides classroom instruction and hands-on training

Find training schools in bicycle mechanics HERE

Also view our ParkTool Home Mechanics School, is ideal for the start-up home mechanic, to setup tools and give you confidence. To see where available and also huge discounts on tools and parts when attending a 1/2-day course See HERE for more information.

Put all your experience and gain more by building your own bike, choosing the right frame and parts to your budget and style of riding.

Oily Handshake


If you want the freedom of being your own boss but with the support of a national network, working in one of the fastest growing leisure sectors please do get in touch with Martin Wilkins at for an information brochure.

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