At London Cyclist whether you want to maintain your bike yourself or would rather just take it to your favourite local bike shop, that’s fine with us.
We’ve started running a regular series on bike maintenance (See: How to do a bike safety check). These maintenance guides are also available inside our Bike Doctor App, for easy reference on the move.
To accompany our guides, we also highly recommend taking a bike maintenance course (many are free!) and we’ll have a full review of one in the next few weeks.
There is a real joy in maintaining your bike yourself. You feel independent, confident you can fix problems, you can save money and time. However, above a certain level, maintenance starts to require specialist tools and can get a little more tricky.
As guidance as to which repairs are easiest done at home, and which may be best left to professionals, we’ve put together our list below.
Basic – <10mins
These things are easy and pretty much essential to owning a bike. Even if you intend to take your bike to a mechanic for any repair, these things will help keep your bike safe:
- Pumping the tyres
- Checking the brakes
- Lubing the chain
If you use your bike regularly and rely on it to get you from A to B then the following are things you probably should be able to do, in addition to the basics.
- Full M safety check
- Replace an inner tube/patch an inner tube
- Adjust brakes and install new pads
- Adjust gears
The following things are those that you don’t really need to know how to do, but cycling life is much easier and kinda more fulfilling if you can.
- Install new parts
- Change chain
- Install new cabling
Take to a mechanic
Whilst these are repairs that anyone can learn to do at home, they are perhaps easier to leave to a mechanic, especially because they can require more specialist tools which can be expensive.
- Repairing or servicing a bottom bracket
- Repairing or servicing a headset
- Bleeding hydraulic brakes
- Yearly general check over
A local bike shop owner that we spoke to told us they often see bikes with contaminated rotors and pads from hydraulic fluid. It is very easy to get the bleed wrong, and then the fluid can get everywhere. It is one of those things that is just a hassle to fix and clean up after. The bottom bracket and headset are what allow 2 of the 4 main moving parts on a bike to operate. They are subjected to a lot of wear and tear and they need to operate precisely. They often also require special tools.
Finally, even if you are doing general maintenance work yourself, it is really worth having your bike checked over once a year, just to make sure everything is ship shaped (or indeed, correct bike shaped). It offers piece of mind, and in the right a bike shop, a good learning experience.
What work do you do on your bike? Which things do you prefer to have a professional do versus doing yourself? Let us know!
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.