Knowing how a bike is built can not only save its owner time and money, but also make him or her a better cyclist. According to Kurt Pfund and Scott Reach, of Cycle Path Bikes on Long Island, New York, some of a bike's most important parts are its front and rear derailleurs, which control the bike's speed and shift it through the gears. A bike normally has six to nine gears in back, which affect minor changes in pedal speed, and two to three gears in front, which affect large shifts with drastic changes in pedal speed. Use gears one to four for uphill biking and five through eight for downhill and flat biking. All bikes have front brakes controlled by the left hand and back brakes controlled by the right. The quick-release lever allows you to remove wheels with no tools.
A few simple maintenance measures will keep your bike in good condition. After a ride, wipe your bike's frame with a cloth and soapy water. Brush any dirt off the chains and cogs with an old toothbrush, and clean the rims with grade-00 steel wool. Use medium-grit sandpaper to rough up the brakes. Kurt suggests using a dry paraffin-based chain lube for fair weather and reasonably clean riding conditions. Also, check your tire pressure: Road bikes require 90 to 100 PSI, mountain bikes 40 to 60 PSI, and hybrids 60 to 80 PSI. If you feel uncomfortable with any of the following procedures, take your bike to an authorized bike shop. And always remember to carry a spare inner tube and patch kit with you when biking.
Inner-Tube Removal How-To
1. Press the brake pads against the rim, and lift the cable out of the brake arm.
2. Open the quick-release lever.
3. Lift the fork away from the wheel, loosening the adjustment nut if necessary.
4. Directly opposite the valve stem, insert a tire lever between the rim and tire, and lift the side of the tire over the rim.
5. Slide the second lever along the rim, and lift the rest of the tire's edge over the rim.
6. With only one side of the tire lifted over the rim, pull the tube out.
7. Inspect the tire for debris, and remove.
8. Find the hole by pumping air into the tube and listening for a hiss sound.
1. Rough up the area around the puncture with sandpaper.
2. Apply glue liberally to the area, and let dry for 5 minutes.
3. Place a patch over the puncture, black side up, and press firmly.
4. After a few minutes, give the tube enough air to take shape.
5. Insert the tube's valve stem in the hole in the rim, and position the tube in the tire.
6. Lift the side of the tire back over the rim with both thumbs.
7. Pump 12 to 15 strokes of air into the tube, to help it seat itself properly, and let air escape.
8. Pump the tube to the recommended air pressure.
9. Reinstall the wheel, and close the quick-release levers.