Tech Center
Tech Topics
Using Your Quick Release   Front wheels, rear wheels, seats, etc.

Fixing Flats   Ah yes, everyone's favorite, the flat tire. Let's fix that bad boy.

All About Gears   Lots of speeds, huh? Not to worry. It's really very simple.

Cleaning Chrome   My chrome fenders and steel handlebars look like shrines to rust? Not a problem.

HB Stems   I loosened the bolt on my handlebar stem and nothing happened... You forgot something.

Bike Pictionary   I don't know the difference between a derailleur and a binder bolt... HELP!

Parts Pictionary   I need the whatchamacallit that the chain goes through. What part to ask for.

Quick Service Tips

Fix a torn tire while out on the road

If you slash the sidewall on your clincher tire or there is a pretty good sized hole on the tread, do not despair. Remove the tire then insert a dollar bill or a wrapper from a power bar between the tire and your tube. Put in a new tube or patch your tube if necessary. Then, re-inflate. The strength of the bill or wrapper should be more than needed to get you home safe and sound. You can also use part of the damaged tube if you have a new tube with you.

New alloy crank arms

When putting new alloy crank arms on, make sure to put a little light grease on the tapered ends of the crank axle. Alloy compresses a little so you might have to tighten the arms one or more times until this compression is complete. The grease will limit the number of times you should need to do this by lowering the friction between the alloy arms and the steel axle thus allowing for a tighter fit. Always make sure to tighten the arms at least twice after a few rides or until you no longer need to tighten them. This grease will also help prevent the dreaded alloy/steel corrosion that can build up where the two surfaces meet making it hard to remove the arms at a later date. And don't forget to put some grease on the threads of the pedals before installing them.

Presta valve lock nuts

Keep em loose. This nut is necessary on sew-up (sometimes called tubular) tires but if you have a regular tire and tube system, they only create problems. Sew-up tires are called that because the tube is actually sewn up inside the tire. The tire is then glued to the rim. The lock nut keeps the valve from moving around too much and separating from the tube which is in a fixed position.
The opposite is true for standard tubes and tires. Each time you start and stop your bike, the tire moves (flexes) ever so slightly on the rim. If you lock that nut down, the tube won't be able to move along with the tire which can result in the valve stem separating from the tube.

Loose brakes

Do you have to squeeze that brake handle until it almost touches the handlebar before it seems to work right? Time to tighten that sucker up. Most brake handles come with an 'adjusting barrel' which allows you to do just that. Turning that adjusting barrel counterclockwise in effect lengthens the brake sheath (that covering around the brake cable) which also in effect shortens the brake cable.
What actually happens is that the brake cable 'travel' is shortened which allows the brake pads to touch the rim sooner. Most adjusting barrels come with a lock nut. Make sure you loosen that nut before adjusting the barrel and tighten it back up against the brake handle when you're done. Check to make sure you haven't over tightened the cable to a point where the brake shoes are rubbing against the rim. If the adjusting barrel has more than half an inch of thread showing, stop loosening it. If your brake is still not tight enough, bring your bike in to your local bike shop to get a brake adjustment done.
NOTE: On older bikes that adjusting barrel might be located on the brake itself or on a mount at the end of the brake cable sheath close to the brake.

Brake extension levers

If you have an older '10-speed' bike with extension levers (the extra levers that come out of the side of the main brake levers and follow the contour of the handlebar), be careful. Originally billed as safety levers, they were called suicide levers by most if not all bike shops. Due to an inherent design flaw, these levers can fail to provide enough pressure to the brakes to stop you in an emergency situation. If you're riding in traffic or in any situation where an emergency stop may be required, try to use the main brake levers so you're able to stop when you need to. The best way to prevent this problem is to keep the brakes adjusted as tight as possible and check them often.

Spoke noises

Do your spokes 'creak when you ride? Over time and under bad road conditions a slight amount of corrosion can build up on your spokes. This corrosion can cause the spokes to grate against each other where they cross. Put a drop or two of oil at the point where they cross to help eliminate some of this grating. If there is a lot of corrosion, work the spokes back and forth a few times before applying the oil. This will grind some of the corrosion away. If this problem keeps occurring, you might want to get your wheels rebuilt using stainless steel spokes. Those won't corrode. The same thing can happen where the spokes attach to the 'flange' of the hub especially if some of your spokes are a tad loose.

Pedal noises

Do your 'pedals' creak when you ride? That's usually not the pedals themselves. It's usually caused by loose crank arms. If tightening them up doesn't stop the creak, you might need some grease inside the crank arm where it contacts the axle. If you have a crank arm extractor, you can do this yourself.

Paint touchup

Unfortunately, due to hazardus materials shipping restrictions, bicycles no longer come with touchup paint. At a minimum you can use clear nail polish to keep your frame from rusting. We and the bike manufacturers recommend using model paint from a hobby shop. You should be able to find a color close to your bike's current (due to fading) color. If the closest color is a little bit too dark or too light, buy some white or black to mix with it to lighten up or darken the color. If it needs a little more blue, you know what to do. Make sure to clean the spot to be painted with a little diluted dish soap to remove any surface oils then rinse and dry it well (use a paper towel as opposed to a cloth rag since cloth usually has some inherent oil in it).
If you are mixing colors, do it on a piece of cardboard so you can hold it up to the frame to see when the mix is right. Use a very small amount of the 'mixing' color as it will change the main color quickly.

Bike Pictionary

Place your cursor over the bicycle picture



Parts Pictionary

Gears - Brakes - Crank - Bottom Brackets - Hubs




Parts Pictionary - Gears
Front Deraileur
Rear Deraileur
Parts Pictionary - Brakes
Side pull brake
Disc brake
Parts Pictionary - Crank
Crank photo
Parts Pictionary - Bottom Brackets
Sealed bottom bracket
Cotterless bottom bracket
Parts Pictionary - Hubs
QR and bolt-on hubs




7054 N. Clark St. Chicago, IL 60626           (773) 274-9281          Fax (773) 274-3534
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