For most riders, bicycle repair is a part of the hobby but it’s also one that isn’t quite the daunting task as working on an automobile. After all replacing a pedal or putting on a new chain doesn’t really have the safety repercussions that replacing a radiator or changing a timing belt might have. While getting a bike back on the road usually doesn’t take more than an hour, there are some projects that fall in the gray area of “should I DIY try or just say goodbye?” and take the bike to the shop. The answer varies on a person’s expertise, but here are the most common issues where that question may need to be answered.
Wheels Out of True
A wheel that wobbles or is unbalanced can be annoying but there is some give and take allowed. This is especially noticeable if you have a bicycle upside down and spin the wheel – it may look lopsided as all getup but when the weight of a rider is on it there is no play at all. On the other hand if the tire is noticeably cattywampus with a person on it the tire should be fixed. A wheel that is only slightly out of center can be easily DIY fixed just by loosening or tightening the adjacent spokes until they work their way back into balance. However a bike shop can use a straightening tool or jig on a wheel that is actually bent to try and salvage it.
Stuck Seat Post
There’s nothing more frustrating then having a seat stuck in an uncomfortable position because of a seized post that won’t allow you to adjust it. This is often caused by the post rusting into place after years of storage and essentially becoming welded to the opening. The method to remove the post is time consuming and involves a lot of elbow grease while not always being successful. A DIYer can start by pouring penetrating oil, ammonia, or carbonated soft-drink down into the post to try and dissolve the corrosion. If that doesn’t work the next step is heating the lug area where the seat post goes in to to make it expand. If that doesn’t work the seat post itself can be chilled with CO2 or nitrogen to see if it contracts. Not every DIYer has the time and materials to try and free the post so this may be a job left up to the pros.
Many people have tried to tune up their own bikes, but almost to a T they agree that it’s a job better left for a bike shop. For one, the shops simply have the tools and the expertise that make them well worth the $50 or so service fee. For instance how many DIYers have the knowledge or wherewithal to give the bike drivetrain an ultrasonic cleaning, flush the disc brakes, tension the spokes, replace bearings and hubs that are starting to fail, true the wheels, and adjust the front and rear shifting all in a couple hours time? Second of all how many more problems would be encountered when a DIY er tried to accomplish those tasks which result in a trip to the bike shop anyway.
While it’s good to get accustomed to your bike parts and learn how to fix them, sometimes the bike shop can be your friend.