Lessons LearnedWell, that was fun. I got a lot done, and my bike's looking a lot better than it was. I also learned/remembered a few things in the process.
The most important thing about bicycle maintenance and repair is to make sure your bike is kept in good condition in general. I abused the heck out of mine this winter, and it's showing. I could have definitely invested in the proper supplies to keep it up all winter. If you want your bike to last, keep it clean, especially in the moving parts, and keep it lubricated.
Another good thing to remember is if you get frustrated while doing your own repairs, it's not a bad idea to just leave it be for a while. When you come back, you'll be more relaxed and have a fresh perspective, which can really help. On the other hand, don't be afraid to do your own work--if you can't fix it, you can just take it to the bike shop. That's what you were going to do anyway, and at least you tried.
This is a big one, too: I guess women don't like being referred to as "the dishwasher"--who knew?
Now What?There's a few ways to go from here. If you like getting dirty, and want to try more esoteric bike repairs, you're probably going to need some good tools and some good reference. If not, there's some decent bike shops around. And of course you're going to want to pick up supplies for summer cycling, too.
Bicycle Tools and Tool KitsIf you want to get in to doing your own bicycle repairs, a solid tool kit is essential--your regular toolbox of hammers and wrenches won't do. I've been buying tools here-and-there as needed, and I find that it's a good way to get a solid bicycle tool collection. However, you can also buy a box of all the bicycling-specific tools you could ever need. Park Tools is a very reputable bicycle tool manufacturer; they some good tool kit options like the Park Tools Ak-37 Advanced Mechanic Bicycle Tool Kit. I don't have one, but it would be cool. At the very least, get a multi-tool like the Park MTB-3 Multi Tool, which you can carry in your pocket or bag and can bail you out if you get in mechanical trouble while riding.
Further ReadingFor reference, I use The Guide to Complete Bicycle Maintenance and Repair which got me out of trouble a few times this week. It's got pictures and walk-throughs for repair and maintenance; it has how-tos and trouble-shooting, what-to-do when you're really in a pickle, and it explains it all much better than I can. I'd say it's fairly essential, it's definitely on of my most useful cycling-related purchases, ever.
Give up?Knowing when you're in over your head is an admirable quality, and one which I don't have. Sometimes the best option is to just take your bike to the shop. Personally I've found my experiences at the two Portsmouth shops, Papa Wheelie's and Bicycle Bob's, to be pretty pretty hit-or-miss. Papa's Wheelies--don't go there. Their mechanical work is horrible, and their attitude is pretentious. I've found that Bob's is more reliable for mechanical work, but the service experience is bizarre. However, I've had nothing but good experiences at Gus' Bike; the place has a nice vibe, and the mechanics are eager to talk about bikes and offer advice, without trying to make a sales pitch. If you haven't been there, try it out, it's only a couple miles further away than the Portsmouth shops.
Stocking up for SummerWhether you're heading to the bike shop or ordering online, here's a few things to stock up on for summer, if you don't have them already:
- Patch Kit
You will get a flat, and it will suck, if you don't carry a patch kit when you ride.
- Frame Pump
Carry a small pump that attaches to your bike frame, so you can pump up after fixing flats.
- Tire Levers
A set of plastic levers needed to pry the tire off of/on to the wheel.
- Water bottles
You'll want these; buy two--get matching ones
I use Tri Flow for just about everything, but there are a lot of different kinds of lubes, oils, greases, etc. for different purposes. I'll touch on that some other day, though.