Bicycle repairs seem to always come in two flavors: the kind that you can easily “DIY” fix yourself, perhaps even on the side of the road (or down a mountain path) if necessary… and the kind that really require an expert.
Most novice cyclists can do things like clean and replace a chain, keep the tires properly inflated, or tighten up the odd nut or bolt. However, there are some bicycle repairs that should generally be handled by an expert, either because they’re tricky to get just right or because they require specialized tools and/or equipment that not even dyed-in-the-wool cycling enthusiasts would have at home.
Furthermore, some of these expert-level repairs can be difficult to diagnose for novice or even intermediate cyclists, draining performance and enjoyment until things get worse and potentially lead to additional problems (which means additional repairs and expense).
Read on to learn more about some of these more subtle or expert-level repairs and how to identify them for yourself—and if you do end up needing any of these repairs done, come and visit us at Rocky Mountain Multisport and we’ll get you back up and running in no time.
#1 – Hydraulic Disc Brake Bleeding
Most commonly found on mountain bikes, hydraulic disc brakes have fluid in them. “Bleeding” in this case refers to the removal of air bubbles from the brake fluid. Air in the fluid will reduce the efficacy of the brakes and can lead to reduced braking performance and possibly even component damage.
It’s easy to tell if your hydraulic brakes need bleeding—when you pull the brake lever, it’ll feel a bit “spongy” or loose. You’ll have to depress the lever further than normal before you feel the brake pads engage. Without any air in the system, your brake lever should feel quite stiff and responsive.
An expert mechanic has the tools and equipment necessary to properly bleed the brakes on your bicycle. While there are DIY kits available for brake bleeding, it’s highly advisable that you only use them if you already know what you’re doing—messing with your brakes without total confidence could be disastrous.
#2 – Cantilever-Style Brake Repair or Adjustments
Speaking of brakes, some bicycles are equipped with what are called cantilever brakes. This is a type of brake that has two arms (called cantilevers) on either side of the rim. The arms pivot and move in unison thanks to a crossover cable that runs across the top of the tire. This cable is attached to the brake cable by a yoke. Some cantilever brakes, called V-brakes, don’t have this crossover cable, usually on mountain bikes.
Sound a bit complicated? It is—but cantilever brakes are popular because of their lightweight design, large tire clearance, and mechanical build (an advantage in some situations comparative to, say, hydraulic brakes which we discussed above). However, the relative complexity of the system does call for an experienced mechanic to make repairs or adjustments.
#3 – Fork Adjustments
We’ll discuss suspension in more detail further down in this list, but for now all that’s necessary to understand is that the fork on a bicycle is part of the suspension system. When its damaged or simply in need of adjustment, you’ll feel it—literally.
An improperly set up fork can affect the overall feel of your ride, ranging from “something’s a bit off” to “there’s something seriously wrong here.” An expert mechanic knows how to adjust a fork to give your ride a smooth feel and can even adjust it based on the kind of terrain you plan to ride in.
#4 – Derailleur Repair
Have you ever shifted your bicycle and something just felt not-quite-right? It very likely was a problem with the derailleur (sometimes called derailer). Derailleur gears are responsible for shifting; the chain shifts from one sprocket to another.
The success of this kind of repair or adjustment is again often reliant on the expertise of the mechanic working on it, because even small mistakes can lead to big problems down the road. An expert mechanic will also know how to properly adjust the chain length—too much or too little and you won’t be able to shift properly.
#5 – Suspension Repairs or Adjustments
The quality and continued function of the suspension system of your bicycle is probably what ultimately provides the most enjoyment while riding; its responsible for how much control you have, traction, and general comfort, even when riding on diverse terrain.
Mountain bikes and hybrid bikes usually have a robust suspension system, with shock absorbers on both the front and rear. Hybrid bikes and some road bikes tend to have front suspension only.
Dedicated road bikes and tri bikes are commonly suspension-less, since the added “bounce” after pedaling on pavement would make the cyclist have to put in more work. This, however, is not always the case, as some high-end endurance bicycles have finely tuned rear suspension systems to give the riders greater degrees of comfort.
Regardless, problems with suspension can be subtle—you might describe it as something feeling “a little off.” If the problem is big enough, it’ll be immediately noticeable in how your bicycle rides, feels, and handles.
A professional bicycle mechanic has not only the tools and equipment necessary to repair or adjust the suspension system, but the experience necessary to determine what needs to be done to give the bike a perfectly smooth, “as intended” feel while riding.
If You Need an Expert Bicycle Mechanic in Fort Collins, Visit Rocky Mountain Multisport
Rocky Mountain Multisport is pleased to announce that we now employ a full-time expert bicycle mechanic, Dakota Troudt. An avid cyclist and decade-long professional bicycle mechanic, we couldn’t be happier to have him on our team—and if you need bicycle repairs of any kind, we think you’ll love to meet him.
Whether you’re in the market for a new bicycle, triathlon gear, or repairs, please come see us inside Runners Roost Fort Collins at the Square shopping center!