April 13, 2014

DIY or Die?

It can be rewarding to do bike maintenance yourself, but if you’re not into it, that’s cool. You can enjoy using a bike for transportation without caring about how to change a tire.
Still, it’s empowering to have a base of knowledge of how your bike works. That way, if your bike starts making an odd sound or something feels off, you can do some troubleshooting and perhaps perform a quick fix.
For me and many of my friends who bike, the desire to tinker with your bike grows the more time you spend on it. No doubt this is partly motivated by saving time and money. For example, I don’t have to worry about being without my bike while it’s in the shop getting a flat fixed.
If you decide to try your hand at bicycle mechanics, set the right expectations and have a back-up plan. Don’t try to fix your first flat in the 30 minutes before you have to leave for work! Instead of having time to enjoy the learning process, anything that goes wrong will undoubtedly result in frustration. Plan to give it a try, but know that if your wheel doesn’t go back on quite right, you can then take your bike to the shop, where the mechanic will likely be happy to give you some pointers.
Investing in a bike stand will make working on your bike much easier. Before I had one, all my attempts to put my rear wheel back on my Dutch bike never worked out. It was just too difficult to align everything with the bike tipped upside down. With my bike stand, I can confidently remove my wheel to fix a flat.
While I’ll do some basic things myself, I still have plenty of work done at the shop - especially for my touring bike, which is more mechanically complex than my three-speed Dutch bike. I’m always working to acquire bike maintenance skills, but I’m a long way from doing a full tune-up.
For the time being, I’m content getting my hands dirty every now and again to fix a flat or make an adjustment here or there. 
Do you perform your own maintenance? 


  1. Once I got a pack of these, I didn't know how I got by without them:


    1. I really should use gloves - even now I still have some grease that won't wash off my fingers!