Several months ago, a Tarwheel member came to me and asked if I was interested in writing a monthly, or every other issue a column of Bicycle repair/ Q&A for the members of the club. To this I agreed, and now that I have to put pen in hand I find it a daunting challenge.

So lets start with a little bit about the author.

Some of you all know me from the local rides, some of you have seen me at events around the region plying my trade, and some of you have seen me on the street going about our daily lives.

I was given a bicycle in 1966 by my father who instilled in me the opportunity to see the neighborhood, the city, surrounding areas of where I lived and grew up totally free of any other encumbrances of being able to go where I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted totally independently from other modes of travel.

This evolved into the need for speed and racing. Washington DC was a regional hotbed in those days, with all of the countries in the world represented. You could race against others from all of the traditional countries where cycling was a recognized means of travel, not just a toy to be set aside when you turned 16 and able to drive.

In those days everyone worked on his or her own equipment. Bike shops were for buying new bikes and for those that could afford to pay somebody else to take care of their equipment. I had a part time gig in a local shop and had the good fortune to watch and assist the mechanics in some of the repairs that came in.

Lets fast forward16 years or so...

Maybe this was a turning point for me. I woke up one morning and discovered that I was a better mechanic than I was a bike racer. At this point I started phasing out of being a racer and spent more time at the mechanic’s end of it all and I have never looked back.

Now its 2010.

First and foremost with the new bike or your older mainstay bike it is important to do several basic things to keep it in good working order.

When you buy a new bike it comes to you clean and free of any grime. This is the way you really should try to keep it. Now I know that we all have other things to do besides housekeeping on the bike, but a simple wipe with the damp cloth will go a long way in removing the dirt, grime, road sludge that accumulates in our daily rides. It will also keep the paint looking fresh. In doing this step every time or every other time you ride, you will become accustomed to seeing how your bike is supposed to look and in doing so, you will pay a bit more attention to detail. A cut in the tire, a cable fraying at a derailleur or brake, the chain not sounding as nice, the derailleur’ having trouble shifting…. All of these will become recognizable.

Oh I know…. there is always the question on how can I do this?

I have no work stand, no place where I can work on my bike… An inner-tube or a piece of rope over a tree limb in the yard, a bike hook screwed into the joyce above you and hang the bike by the saddle, even turning it upside down and resting it on the handlebars and saddle, anything to get the bike off the ground so you can pedal the cranks and spin the wheels.

This way you can concentrate on what the bike is doing not what is going on around you. It will also get you in tune with the sounds that come from the bike and when something is wrong.

Onward and upward, keeping the tires inflated to the proper air pressure as designated by the tire manufacturer will prolong the life of the tire and reduce the number of flats. This time of the year when its cold out, air pressure will decrease in volume size over time and when it gets warmer it will increase in size/pressure. When tires get hot, air will expand and will continue to expand until the tire explodes. This is not good.

For 10 speed style tires in the size ratios of 700c x 23c etc, 100 pounds is generally adequate. More than that will give you a harsher ride, less comfort, and only marginally better handling. (Now I know that there is one tire mfg that comes to mind that says 145-psi max as the standard inflation rate). 100psi will give you everything you need.

Periodically look at your tires to make sure that there aren’t any cuts in the sidewalls or in the tread. If you find debris stuck in them, please remove with a small pick. This will keep you from having a puncture later.

This column will work as a Question and Answer regime. You ask and I will give you an opinion based on my knowledge of bicycle repair. This isn’t the be all end all of it but hopefully will alleviate any issues that you have going down the road.


Peter Reid Koskinen
Chapel Hill, NC, 27516