The Beginner's Guide to Essential Bike Maintenance Skills
You’d think with the number of bikes in Australia more people would have realised there’s a career to be had fixing them. And with the number of bikes you see at the local tip, you realise that nowadays people often throw them out rather than trying to find someone to fix them.
But with the rising cost of a really good bike, throwing them out isn’t an option, so dedicated cyclists need a good mechanic (if you live in the bigger cities you’re more likely to be able to find one), rather than relying on cyclist friends for minor fixes.
In Sydney and the capitals you can do bike repair and maintenance(1) workshops(2) to learn to fix your own bike, but be aware that repairing bicycles isn’t as easy as you might think, apart from fixing a puncture or adjusting the brakes.
To be able to do the job properly you need to learn to be a bike mechanic, have lots of patience, proper tools, an eye for detail, and the ability to deal with surprises.
Mechanics are rare, So it is time to maintain your bike
Learn to Maintain Your Bike
Cyclists tend to need instant fixes, so even if there were more mechanics around, taking the bike to be repaired means it could be out of action for any length of time, so being able to do your maintenance and minor repairs is a great idea. It’s part of the independence and freedom of cycling.
However, if you did become a mechanic and also ran courses for cyclists to do their repairs and maintenance, it could be a profitable career. It’s seen as a non-lucrative occupation, but that could change with the thousands of bikes now on the road. There’s a lot to know as well.
For instance, hub gears are out of fashion now, and nobody learns how to fix them, and there’s a lot of interest in converting 1980s bike frames and changing them to fixed gears, which requires some high skills.
Taking it to The Next Step
Moving on from maintaining your bike to running courses and providing repairs and maintenance is a big step, but it can be done and comes with a lot of opportunities such as a mobile repair service. While this is self-explanatory, it’s popular in other service industries and means as the mechanic you would go to a home or business for the immediate repairs cyclists often need.
Peak Maintenance Tips
Below are some essential maintenance tips for those not willing to go into business but who need to be able to keep their bike on the road:
Lubricate all moving parts: A lot of the moving parts on modern cycles are sealed, but you should always keep the chain well but not overly lubricated.
Ensure you have the correct tyre pressure: Having the right pressure in the tyres will reduce wear and tear, making cycling a whole lot easier.
Changing the chain: There’s plenty of debate about when to change the chain and how often, but an overstretched chain wears the cassette down and means you have to replace both.
Replacing a chain is cheaper: There’s a tool for the job, but you still need to know how to do it - could be time to call in the expert.
Keep the bike clean: If you allow dirt to build up, it wears out moving parts and eats away at your bicycle. Keep the wheel trims clean and free of grease, and lightly oil the chain and gears. Your bike chain shouldn’t be black, but shiny silver.
Alex Morrison has worked with a range of businesses giving him an in depth understanding of many different industries. He has used his knowledge and experience to work for clients as diverse as Dafra, Cosh Living and Me Bank to help them reach their business goals.