Mountain Bike Maintenance: The Illustrated Manual

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9781552977347: Mountain Bike Maintenance: The Illustrated Manual

Complete step-by-step guide, from simple repairs to major overhauls.

Mountain bikes endure a great deal of punishment.

Mountain Bike Maintenance explains how to keep a bike trouble-free on- or off-road.

From fixing flat tires to replacing worn brakes, from headset to chainset, this book is crucial for every level of mountain-biker from beginners to veterans.

Mountain Bike Maintenance shows how to:

  • Make maintenance a pleasure -- not a chore
  • Customize your bike for special conditions or a personal riding style
  • Increase a bike's speed
  • Do roadside repairs
  • Extend a bike's life.

This book is filled with practical advice, new technologies, tricks, tips and shortcuts -- an essential reference for mountain bike owners.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Mel Allwood is the Director of Brixton Cycles and the mechanic for the Brixton Cycles mountain bike race team. He contributed to The Ultimate Mountain Bike Book, was Technical Editor of Maximum Mountain Bike magazine, wrote the maintenance and repair column for Cycling Today and writes the product review pages for London Cyclist magazine.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction

Mountain bikes
Why do I like mountain bikes?

I became a cyclist originally because I live in a big crowded city, and I'm an impatient traveler. Bikes are by far the quickest way to get around and enable me to travel under my own steam. I can't stand to be sitting in a tin box in traffic Of waiting for another piece of imaginary public transport.

My first mountain bike was the key to discovering a whole new kind of cycling. Early adventures were mostly around the bridleways of the North Downs in the South of England, a short train ride away from home. Many mountain bikes -- and great trips to lots of fantastic remote places -- later, it's still one of my favorite spots to ride. It doesn't have awesome scenery like Scotland or classic epic loops like the Lake District, but it does have plenty of hidden trails, enough short sharp climbing to keep you fit, and lots of warm cozy pubs just when you need them. Everybody likes their own backyard best.

One of the attractions of mountain biking for me is that it's a great way of getting to remote places that isn't noisy or intrusive and that doesn't do any lasting damage to the environment. The peace comes at a price though -- once you're off the beaten track, if anything goes wrong with your bike, you need to be able to rely on your own resources to fix it. So it pays to be familiar with your machine and to carry basic tools and spare parts with you.

Like most bike mechanics, most of what I've learned about how to make bikes feel nice and work well comes from just taking things apart and putting them back together. I like fixing bicycles -- they evolve, change and improve constantly, so that even mechanics have to learn new tricks and techniques all the time.

Bikes are relatively simple and seldom need complex or expensive tools. They respond magically to a bit of tender loving care -- a nurtured bicycle feels better than a neglected one that costs twice as much. I feel like I've always been very lucky to have a job that I really love -- I've worked at Brixton Cycles Co-op in south London for half of my life now, which means I get to hang out in the bike shop all day. Sometimes I do worry that one day somebody is going to find out and make me go and get a proper job that's not as much fun and doesn't involve fixing mechanical parts with oily things. If that ever happens, a big chunk of what I've learned is in this book.

One of my favorite things about mountain bikes is that they have so few superfluous parts. Since you're the power source for this transport, you don't want to be carrying around anything you don't have to. This advantage is a huge disadvantage at the same time. Anything you break while on a ride is probably vital and will have to be repaired before you're able to continue.

Fixing your bike

There are two good reasons for fixing your own bike, and a third more tenuous one. The first reason -- where most bicycle repair careers start -- is to help you get home when something goes wrong. Even if this is as much as you ever intend to do with wrenches, it's worth getting right. The difference between a glamorous repair story in the pub and a long dispiriting walk home is seldom more than a few basic tools and a bit of familiarity with the way your machine is supposed to work.

The second good reason often happens next -- fixing your bike helps you get out on your bike. Adjusting it so that it does exactly what you want it to makes you more likely to go out on a ride, if only to test what you've done. The third reason could be less praiseworthy. Carrying out your own bike maintenance does save you on getting your bike fixed -- although I cannot resist the excuse to go out and buy my bike a nice present with the money I've saved doing my own repairs.

The unspoken goal of bicycle care is never to have to fix a broken bike at all -- you've left it too late by then. One of the lazy reasons for spending some time looking after your bicycle is that careful nurture means fewer trail breakdowns. Regular mild care and attention is much more effective, and cheaper, than occasional guilty servicing frenzies. As you get more familiar with the workings of your bicycle, you gradually pick up a key skill: realizing that something is not behaving as it should and identifying where the problem is. This is still mechanics even if you then decide to pay someone else to fix it for you! Riding around with worn or damaged components is the quickest way to wear or damage whatever the parts are connected to, increasing the cost of the inevitable eventual repair. Learning to spot problems early will save you money.

For any mechanical task you decide to tackle, arm yourself with the necessary tools and spare parts before you take anything apart -- tools are listed in the "toolboxes" in each section. It helps to clean your bike first. This saves you getting covered in grease and dirt as you work and makes it a lot easier to see what's going on. It means your bike looks all clean when you've finished too, which is always encouraging.

Whenever you're fixing your bike at home, give yourself enough time to work slowly and calmly. Trying to fix or adjust your bike with your friends waiting at the trailhead for you or knowing you're setting off on a cycling holiday the next day is a recipe for disaster. If possible, fix your bike before the bike shop closes too -- that way everything is far less stressful if you suddenly discover you need spare parts or tools halfway through.

One of my intentions in writing this book has been to explain how parts of your bicycle work. All instruction manuals take you through a series of steps that will cure a specific problem; after a while it's easy to believe that there is only one way of doing each job. This is a myth though -- every repair is slightly different so it makes sense to try and understand how your bicycle works before you dive in with your wrenches. You will always get better results from your labors if you learn to think like a mechanic, looking carefully at components before you start work, trying to understand how they work, then adjusting them for optimum performance. When something does go unexpectedly wrong, try to work out why it happened, so that you can stop it happening again. Sometimes the cause is obvious -- if you wrap lightweight parts of bicycles around trees at high speed, something's got to give. Other times, there seems to be no immediate cause. Look at the broken or worn parts and see if you can work out what went wrong. Was it adjusted correctly? Did it have enough lubrication? This is the key difference between mechanics and fitters, who simply follow instructions blindly.

It's a commonly held myth that some people have a special touch with mechanical things, a bit like having green thumbs. While some people are definitely more dexterous than others, the most important quality you need to fix bicycles is the ability to assess the problem calmly and work out a good solution. Anyone can learn how to do this -- it's not magic. Professional mechanics have more experience with similar problems to help them make choices and are just much quicker at it. Getting parts adjusted perfectly takes a little time, but you will get quicker with practice and patience. Bicycles are good to work on because almost everything you need to get at is exposed and accessible -- you don't have to crawl underneath anything or shine flashlights into oil-soaked crevices. Bikes are light enough so you can turn them over or around without any fuss -- if this doesn't seem like a big deal, you've never tried to fix a washing machine.

Throughout the book, instructions like front, left right, top, etc., are given as if you are sitting on the bicycle the right way up.

Who are you?

This book is intended as an introduction to fixing bicycles, for those who like to ride their bikes but feel daunted when something goes wrong. The more mechanically experienced rider should also find some of th

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