Bicycle tech tips for the unencumbered |

Bicycle tech tips for the unencumbered

A common afflication —bicycle on the brain.
Chris Brown |

I have worked in bicycle shops for more than 20 years. I am occasionally surprised to learn new tricks that mechanics perform. Some of these tricks are part of the artistry of wrenching, some are decades old, and some were developed by a hack who just didn’t know better, but it worked. I have compiled a list to wow and amaze you:

• Hand grips — Putting a nickel in the end of each hand grip keeps the ends from getting torn up when the bike falls over, and you will also have 10 cents to use in a cell-phone-booth if you need to call your mom for a ride. Hairspray is also an excellent get-er-on-er.

• Size and fit — The perfect distance between saddle and handle bar is when you can’t see the front hub when you are sitting on the bike. The handle bar will block your view.

• Tires — If you put the “PSI” label next to the valve stem on your wheels, you will never have to go looking for it.

• Handle bar tape — Wrap the road handle bar tape from the bottom up and finish with electrical tape (any color). The bar wrap won’t peel off because your hand pressure is always with the overlapping seam.

• Wheels — A pencil and rubber band make a mighty fine “truing” stand. When truing wheels, be the nipple, never be the spoke. If you tighten the wheel axles with the bike standing upright, they will always be aligned straight in the frame and the brakes won’t rub.

• Female riding buddies — If she just isn’t into it, stop pedaling by her house at night.

• Work stand — Two ropes suspended from the porch rafters looped around your handle bar and seat make a 25 cent work stand. And it’s portable. Make sure to take them down at night so you don’t hang your dad.

• Tools — Never buy a metric crescent wrench. The SAE versions are cheaper and last twice as long.

• Shifting — If a gear cable breaks when riding, a rock jammed in the derailleur will create a magical single-speed moment for the rest of the trip. You are faster than you know.

• Flat tires — If you don’t have a patch kit, cut the tube in half at the hole and tie both ends in a knot. If your pump sucks instead of blowing, it just needs some lubricating fluid poured into the pump body — spit, juice, hot sauce, something …

• Pedals — The pedals on the left are left-handed threads and the pedals on the right are right-handed threads (righty tighty, lefty loosey). This was said to be invented by the Wright Brothers (really … wait a minute, I just got it. Dang!).

• Cables — If you need to grab a cable in an internally routed frame, loop a piece of brake cable into the hole and pull it out once the gear cable has passed through it.

• Storage — Never hang all your bikes in the living room when your wife goes away for a week. They don’t find it cute when they get home.

Well, I hope that helps and I hope it enlightens you to what 100 years of cycling evolution can do for mankind. Remember to always stick your tongue out of your mouth when working on your bike — it gives people more confidence in your abilities.

Happy Trails!

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