There are few things, on this earth, that are as important as being able to fix your own bike problems. Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but you understand what I’m getting at. Rather than shipping your gear off to a shop to be fixed, or worse, resorting to buying completely new parts, start trying to fix it yourself. At first, this is a completely daunting task; but after you fix your first mechanical issue, it will be such a satisfying, self-sufficient, rewarding feeling.
If you spend enough time riding your bike, you’ll eventually break a few things. Sometimes it’s as simple as broken chain, when other times it can be as difficult as rebuilding your suspension. Of course, the knowledge to be able to rebuild a bike doesn’t come overnight. It does take a lot of time, dozens and dozens of mistakes, and a few tools your collect over time. But nearly every component on your bike can be removed the bike tool you carry with you on your rides.
Fixes and Repairs Ranked by Difficulty
Follow the link to an instructional video to help your repairs
*Indicates special tools required
- Replacing punctured bike tubes
- Replacing worn tires
- Converting your tires to tubeless
- Adjusting brake levers and calipers
- Replacing a Chain and adjusting chain length*
- Changing pedals
- Setting Shock Pressure*
- Running new cables for brakes and shifters
- Replacing/Adjusting Derailleurs
- Replacing Cassettes*
- Replacing Shifters
- Replace Disc Brake Rotor
- Replacing brake pads
- Wrapping Handlebars and Replacing Grips
- Bleeding Shimano and SRAM Hydraulic Disc brakes*
- Service and Rebuilding your Front & Rear Shocks*
- Replacing Hydraulic Brake Levers
- Replacing Hydraulic Brake Calipers
- Converting to 1x drivetrain*
- Removing/Servicing Bottom Bracket*
- Replace spokes and building wheels
Admittedly, I’m mechanically inclined and feel confident that I can figure out any issue on my bike. But no amount of confidence can replace hands-on experience, and I lacked that experience. Nearly every one of these repairs took me multiple attempts at first. I struggled to bleed my brakes and got oil all over the place, I constantly get STANS sealant all over the place when I replace tires, and I’ve put too much oil into my fork when servicing it. No doubt my mistakes have resulted in me spending more money than if I sent it away to get fixed once and more headaches than I can count. But guess what, all these issues, breaks, and services are bound to happen again. And the next time, I knew how to fix it and it went exponentially smoother.
As you can see, servicing your bike after a long season can easily, and quickly cost between $30-$100+. Yet, if you go service by service, and found out all the parts and tools you’d need to perform the maintenance yourself, you’d find out that it cost just about the same. So after one fix or repair, you’ve broken even. For example, this shop charges $30 for a brake bleed. To perform this service, you need a brake bleed kit and required oil for your brake manufacture (Shimano/SRAM/etc). That kit costs $22 on Amazon. If you spend a few minutes googling your bike problems, you’ll find out quickly that the cost of tools and parts isn’t nearly as high as you’d expect.
Beyond the financial benefit of being able to fix your own mechanical issues, where you really benefit is being self-sufficient. Understanding the inner workings of your bike, allows you to appreciate what an incredible tool it is. No longer do you have to put up with a brake that barely brakes, a grinding chain, a clicking derailleur, or even a bottoming-out suspension. Rather than having to decide if bringing it into a shop and being without a bike for a few days is worth it, you can fix it yourself! It’s rewarding and beyond useful. Plus, now you can fix your friends bike when they break theirs so you’re never without a riding buddy.
The philosophy behind being your own mechanic was explored deeply in the 540 page book titled, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” This goes far beyond bicycle maintenance and helps you shape the way you view the world and all the things we buy, rather than fix. Teaches us to be more reliable throughout our lives.
So get out there, ride hard and push the limits of your bike, brake a few parts here and there. Then come home, fix’m up, and repeat the cycle!
My name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.