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How to learn bike maintenance and repairs, for any learning style.
For many of us, fixing and maintaining our bicycle only ever gets as complicated as dropping it off at the shop and picking it up when it’s ready. There is no shame in not having the time, skills, or desire to do you own bike repairs. That’s how bike shops stay in business!
However, some of us have the desire but lack the requisite skills. Fortunately, there are plenty of options available – no matter what your learning style – to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to fix and maintain your own bicycle. Here are a few good options for anyone who’s interested in becoming skilled in the fine art of bicycle maintenance.
Bike co-ops – also referred to as bike kitchens or community bike shops – are non-profit bicycle repair shops whose goal is to teach bike repair to the public. The staff are on hand to help you fix your bicycle and provide you with the tools and level of guidance you require, from help with a complex derailleur problem right down to fixing your first flat.
While the specific goals and funding structures of each bike co-op vary, the majority are free to access and volunteer-run, and many have used bike parts available at low-cost or by donation. Many bike co-ops also run women- and trans-only workshops.
There are bike co-ops in most large cities and on many college campuses, and a growing number of them in smaller cities and towns and well. If you can’t find a bicycle co-op, an increasing number of bike shops also offer repair and maintenance classes.
With the amount you can learn on YouTube these days, it’s a small wonder colleges even exist anymore! There are YouTube tutorials for everything from basic bike maintenance tips to more specific tasks, such as how to true a wheel or replace your brake pads.
Websites such as wikiHow and About.com also offer useful step-by-step guides on a number of common bike repair problems, from “four easy bike tune-up tricks” to “how to adjust a rear bicycle derailleur.”
Remember that old place? Your local library contains an abundance of books on bike repair and maintenance for those who read their tutorials the old school way.
Park Tool – The Big Blue Book of Bicycle Maintenance, Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance, and Bike Repair and Maintenance for Dummies are all excellent and comprehensive bicycle maintenance how-to guides.
Putting a new school spin on an old concept, there are also a growing number of tool libraries popping up across the US and Canada. Tool libraries are co-operative lending organizations which allow members to borrow tools, equipment and instructional guides, and frequently act as hubs for knowledge- and skill-sharing. Many tool libraries have bicycle repair tools so you can get what you need to put that library book learning to good use.