Basic bicycle mechanics

You should not fear of breaking something when dealing with a bicycle. The parts are robust and well designed to allow easy maintenance. You can do about everything yourself with some self-confidence in your mechanics skills. We will try to give you this confidence by the end of this text. Most of all, doing it yourself is fun. It also ensure that your bicycle will be at its best possible shape. No one knows your bicycle better than you. I often saw occasions where I would give my bicycle for maintenance at a bike shop to end up with a totally messed up bicycle. Doing it your self may take you a bit longer at first, but the advantages are numerous.

What tools do you need to do maintenance on a bicycle?

Tool Image Usages
Minimal set of tool required
  • Flat screw driver
  • Phillips screw driver

Derailers tuning.
  • Metric hexagonal wrench set
Almost any bolts on modern bicycles are of this kind. Adjusting saddle and handlebar height, brakes and much more are done using this simple tool set.
  • Variable size wrench (6 or 8 inches)
  • Metric wrench set
  • Spoke wrench
Used for wheel hubs bolts and pedals (thin wrench required). Variable size wrench can be use in place of spoke wrenches.
  • Needle nose pliers
To hold wires when working on brakes and derailers wires.
  • Tire levers
Used to change the tire inner tube.
  • High Pressure Air Gauge
To correctly inflate your tires. You can use it on your car as well so it is a good investment.
  • Spare spokes
To replace broken spokes. Notice that spokes comes with a nipple. That's the name we give to the nut used to tighten the spoke tension.
Optional tools for more advanced maintenance tasks
  • Freewheel Remover
Required to replace spokes on the rear wheel. Take note that each bicycle require a different type of freewheel remover.

Using these few hand tools, you can pretty much handle any maintenance need that you may face in most conditions. Now that we know what tools to use, what are the things we can do on a bicycle using them?