We see a lot of bikes come through the shop at Takoma Bicycle, and over time we've witnessed our fair share of beginner bike repair errors. Are you new to the world of cycling, but excited to get your hands dirty by maintaining your bike yourself? Read on to make sure you don't make some of the most common beginner bike repair errors.
Error #1: Screwing in derailleur limit screws
The screws in your derailleur are set as limits for which the derailleur can move - despite what you may think, they likely are not loose and were carefully set by the bike mechanic who built your bike. If your shifting is not working properly, it's most likely because of dirt on the cables, cable tension, or a bent derailleur hanger. So go ahead and put that screwdriver back down.
Error #2: Choosing the wrong lube
Despite what you may think, WD-40 was not made for bicycle lube jobs. So go ahead and put that back on the shelf for when your door starts creaking again. When you are lubricating with an appropriate lube, make sure to wipe off any excess with a rag. Any lube that's left behind on the outside of the rollers and links will just be a magnet for dirt and grit. After every ride, whether you're using lube or not, it's a smart idea to wipe down your chain with a clean rag.
Error #3: Fixing squeals by lubing your brakes
If you've got some squealing brakes, lube is NOT the answer. Just trust us on this - lube and brakes do not go together. If you've got rim brakes, then the squeal is likely coming from how the pads are set up or because they need to be replaced. For those with disc brakes, sometimes the squeal just happens. However, a rotor clean and pad replacing could eliminate the issue.
Error #4: Over tightening the headset
Have you been taught that the top preload bolt needs to be really tight? If you over tighten it it will result in a stripped star nut or jammed headset bearing. The top bolt actually only needs ot be tight enough to remove any headset bearing play. If you're finding resistance in your steering it’s likely too tight.
Error #5: Improperly closing quick releases
Clearly, before hopping on your bike you need the quick release in the closed position. However, you also need to make sure that in the closed position the lever is locked tight enough that it can't be flicked open with your finger tips alone.
Error #6: Poorly inflated tires
You can error in both directions here. Overinflated or under-inflated tires can both cause problems. Make sure before heading out for a ride that you pump up your tires to the recommended pressures found on the side of your tires.