I know removing and installing the rear wheel on a geared bicycle can be a hassle for someone who has never done it before. I actually had trouble with it 10 years ago when I began biking, too, so I thought I’d do a little how-to for others who are having trouble with it.
First, before removing the wheel, make sure you’re shifted into the largest front gear and the smallest gear in the rear. I know this seems like an optional step, but it really will make the process a lot easier in the long run.
The other important step involves pushing downward (assuming the bike is upside-down as it should be) on the rear-most section of your rear derailleur. By doing so, you will force the pulleys upward, and along with them, the chain. This will leave the drop-outs free and clear for the axle to move in or out.
Study the animated image below, and then go practice. It’s better to learn how to easily do this now, while you’re at home, than later, when you’re stuck on a trail somewhere. As you’ll see by the animation, I’m showing how to put the wheel back in place. Removing it is just a reversal of the steps.
Make sure you fully tighten the skewer and check your brakes before riding.
Yeah, I know, disc brakes are pretty much the thing to have nowadays for mountain bikes, but they’re still not the standard. Even today, the majority of bikes are sold with rim brakes, although discs do seem to be closing the gap as prices drop. Still, that doesn’t mean you have to put up with crappy braking, and with a few simple steps, good quality v-brakes can easily brake as well as discs under most circumstances.
The first thing you need to do is clean your rims, since this is half of the overall braking system (the other half being the pads). Take a close look at your rims, and you’ll likely see a lot of residue from your brake pads and whatever else you’ve ridden through lately.
I typically use a CamelBak to carry my tools and water along on rides, but for shorter rides, it isn’t always neccessary. However, I hate strapping a seat bag onto my bike because it’s too time consuming messing with the straps, and seatbags are usually wedge-shaped, so cramming everything inside can be difficult.
So, for a short evening or morning ride where you may need just a few essentials, and especially if you have multiple bikes and never know which one you may take with you, I thought I’d pass along this tip.
This first thing you need is a spare water bottle, preferably with a large opening; a 24oz. size works just fine.
Lately, my bar ends have been causing my hands to go numb. My extremely rigid aluminum fork is probably to blame since it doesn’t dampen vibration like my old SID fork did. Since there are no decent grips on the market for bar ends (other than some slip-on types made of neoprene), I decided to make my own.
One of the most important things to own for your bike is Park Tool’s Polylube. Buy it in the tube and it’ll last for years.
With that out of the way, this is my story:
On both of my rides last weekend, I kept hearing a creaking/popping noise with every pedal stroke. My bike is usually pretty quiet, so this was annoying the crap out of me. I finally discovered the sound went away when I stood to pedal, which gave me an idea as to what it could be.
I’ve been meaning to do a write-up about this for awhile and never got around to it. Fortunately, someone else already did, so here’s a link:
When I built my bike, I had to do tons of research to find parts that were not only light weight, but also strong and durable enough to get me by for years to come. However, pretty much any bike can be made lighter for relatively little money, and sometimes without spending a dime.
If you wonder what the point is in going light, there are actually a few reasons. For one, the lower your bike’s weight, the more efficient it becomes. Less effort has to be put out by the rider to accomplish the same amount of work; that also means you can accomplish more putting out the same amount of work. As weight lowers and your output remains the same, you’ll ride faster and your bike will be easier to maneuver. And easier to maneuver also means that it will be easier to put into your car, or onto a bike rack, or up the stairs of your apartment complex.
I saw this tip in Mountain Bike Action magazine awhile back and I thought I’d share it:
If you have an old innertube laying around, cut off a small strip of it and slide it over your handlebar to rest on your grip, or somewhere else out of the way (pic 1). Then when you’re leaning the bike against something and wanting it to stay put, stretch it over to the brake lever to keep contant tension on it so the bike won’t roll away (pic 2). I tried it the other day when I was re-assembling my wife’s bike and found it worked really great. It’ll also keep your wheels from spinning in the wind when it’s on your car’s bike rack.
Going on a bike ride unprepared is about the worst way to go about it. Not only do you need the right tools for a possible–sometimes, probable–breakdown, you also need to know how to use them.
Flat tires are the most common breakdown. being forced to walk anywhere from a mile to ten miles or more due to a tiny–almost invisible–hole in your innertube simply because you failed to bring along $1 stick-on patches and a 50-cent plastic tire lever, or never practiced removing your tire in the first place, is about as bad as it gets, especially when you consider it’ll take less than five minutes to repair a simple flat tire with very little practice at all.