Your bike giving you problems? Got repair questions or need some service tips? We got you covered.
Fix a torn tire while out on the roadIf you slash the sidewall on your clincher tire or there is a pretty good sized hole on the tread, do not despair. Remove the tire then insert a dollar bill or a wrapper from a power bar between the tire and your tube. Put in a new tube or patch your tube if necessary. Then, re-inflate. The strength of the bill or wrapper should be more than needed to get you home safe and sound. You can also use part of the damaged tube if you have a new tube with you.
New alloy crank armsWhen putting new alloy crank arms on, make sure to put a little light grease on the tapered ends of the crank axle. Alloy compresses a little so you might have to tighten the arms one or more times until this compression is complete. The grease will limit the number of times you should need to do this by lowering the friction between the alloy arms and the steel axle thus allowing for a tighter fit. Always make sure to tighten the arms at least twice after a few rides or until you no longer need to tighten them. This grease will also help prevent the dreaded alloy/steel corrosion that can build up where the two surfaces meet making it hard to remove the arms at a later date. And don't forget to put some grease on the threads of the pedals before installing them.
Presta valve lock nutsKeep em loose. This nut is necessary on sew-up (sometimes called tubular) tires but if you have a regular tire and tube system, they only create problems. Sew-up tires are called that because the tube is actually sewn up inside the tire. The tire is then glued to the rim. The lock nut keeps the valve from moving around too much and separating from the tube which is in a fixed position.
The opposite is true for standard tubes and tires. Each time you start and stop your bike, the tire moves (flexes) ever so slightly on the rim. If you lock that nut down, the tube won't be able to move along with the tire which can result in the valve stem separating from the tube.
Loose brakesDo you have to squeeze that brake handle until it almost touches the handlebar before it seems to work right? Time to tighten that sucker up. Most brake handles come with an 'adjusting barrel' which allows you to do just that. Turning that adjusting barrel counterclockwise in effect lengthens the brake sheath (that covering around the brake cable) which also in effect shortens the brake cable. What actually happens is that the brake cable 'travel' is shortened which allows the brake pads to touch the rim sooner. Most adjusting barrels come with a lock nut. Make sure you loosen that nut before adjusting the barrel and tighten it back up against the brake handle when you're done. Check to make sure you haven't over- tightened the cable to a point where the brake shoes are rubbing against the rim. If the adjusting barrel has more than half an inch of thread showing, stop loosening it. If your brake is still not tight enough, bring your bike in to your local bike shop to get a brake adjustment done.
NOTE: On older bikes that adjusting barrel might be located on the brake itself or on a mount at the end of the brake cable sheath close to the brake.