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Maintenance News Parts And Accessories Safety

Fixing a puncture on the road

Let us get back to basics. Changing a tyre and/or fixing a puncture is something that every cyclist, no matter how experienced, will have to face at some point. You may have the best tyres, do your utmost to avoid potholes and meticulously prune your tyres for undesirable objects, however, the day will come where you have to come to terms with the fact that you have a puncture. Maybe you’ve cycled over a carelessly disposed glass bottle or caught the end of a spiked vine, whatever the case you’ll start to feel as if the bike has suddenly become almost… sluggish, as if it’s somehow consumed a good few pints. You survey your surroundings, eyeing your tyres suspiciously, trying to determine whether it is, in fact, a puncture or you just didn’t pump your tyres up pre-ride. Then the moment comes when you finally concede to the reality that your slowly losing air. At this point (post swearing), it’s best to find a safe spot to pull over and set about fixing the thorn in your side (or tyre).

Now, if you’re the type of cyclist that prepares an ’emergency kit’ prior to heading out, you will have a full puncture repair kit which consists of – tyre levers, a piece of chalk/crayon, a spare inner tube, puncture patches, glue, sandpaper and a pump/co2 canister. But for argument’s sake, let’s say you have no spare tube, so you’re resigned to fixing the puncture and continuing on the same tube. While tyre levers are not a necessity for removing a tyre, it certainly helps and keeps your fingers from getting sore, we’re going to assume that you have a pair.

Getting your bike set

Puncture in the rear? Make sure you change gears until you’re in the small ring at the back (this is better for your bike when you remove the wheel). Then flip the bike upside down, this isn’t essential but helps considering you’re riding solo. Make sure it’s rested on the saddle and handlebars.

Removing the wheel

If you have rim brakes you may have to undo your brake to remove the tyre. Sidepull brakes have a little lever on the calliper that opens the brake further. With V-brakes, the J-shaped metal ‘noodle’ unhooks from the yoke. With cantilever brakes, the cable unhooks from one brake arm. If you’ve got disc brakes, you don’t have to do anything. Remove the wheel by undoing the quick release and pulling the wheel smoothly out, if it’s a rear-wheel, pull the derailleur back out of the way and lift the wheel up and out.

Tyre off and innertube out

Insert the first tyre lever under the edge of the tyre (the bead) and work it off the rim. Either hold this lever or slot the end behind a spoke. Insert the second tyre lever about 10cm away on the same side. Lever up the bead, then run the second lever around the rim, lifting off the tyre completely on one side only. This may take a few tries to get it right. Remove the valve cap and locking ring, if any, then remove the tube.

Finding the puncture, fixing the puncture

If you’re…erm…lucky! You’ll be able to see the offending hole that caused the puncture, however, it might not be so easy. The best bet is to pump up the tube and move the tube around listening carefully for a soft hissing sound. When you think you’ve found it place a finger over the hole and feel for the releasing air, mark the hole with a cross using the chalk/crayon and grab the sandpaper. Rough up the area and spread the glue over an area that’s larger than the patch with your finger, and then leave it to dry for at least five minutes. Don’t do anything else until it’s totally dry – otherwise, you won’t fix your puncture. Peel off the foil backing, apply the patch, making sure it’s centred over the hole. Press down firmly for a minute, and then remove the backing, being careful not to lift the edges of the patch. Inflate the tube and make sure there’s no air escaping, if there’s a hole under one edge of the patch, remove it and start again. You’ll need to roughen the tube more thoroughly, and let the glue dry for longer.

Check the tyre, check the tyre, check the tyre

CHECK THE TYRE. I for one have experienced the sheer frustration of fixing my puncture, putting everything back together only to ride 500m down the road and get another puncture because I hadn’t removed the original culprit. Run your fingers carefully inside the tyre to see if the sharp object is still there. If so, remove it – a knife helps. If you don’t find anything, feel around the rest of the tyre just in case. Hopefully, it’s already fallen out.

Putting it all back together

Place the inner tube back in the wheel with it half-inflated. This will help the process of putting the tyre back on the wheel and not catching the inner tube between the tyre and rim – something which will save you time and the frustration of another blown tube. Work your way around the tyre, holding one hand at a point and working the tyre into the rim. If your tyre is being stubborn turn the tyre levers over and leverage the tyre back over the rim, being careful not to pinch the inner tube against the rim. After some exasperating noises and lots of elbow grease, you’ll have it back in place ready to pump up and put your wheel back on.

This is the best way to fix a puncture on a commute. A brand new inner tube will have your bike good to go again in no time (no need to take into a shop for a service). However, there may be times where you get a puncture and you don’t have a new inner tube on you.

Disaster averted, following these easy steps you’ll be a master of changing a tyre or fixing an inner tube in no time. Saves those embarrassing phone calls to the other half or best friend, begging for a lift ‘Yeah, you know the roundabout near the layby? The one near that place we had a roast in once? Erm, you know the one, it had the dead badger on the road?’ Nah, neither do we.

To view our range of puncture repair kits: https://www.hargrovescycles.co.uk/puncture-repair

Categories
Components Maintenance News Parts And Accessories

How to index your bike’s gears

No cyclist should have to put up with gears that are slow to shift up and down their cassette. We all know how to change gears, but how many of us know how to maintain them? Today’s post is going to help you bid adieu to your clicking and ticking gears. Indexing gears may seem tricky and the job for a bike shop, however, after this guide you’ll be mastering the mech like a pro.

Know Your Limits

Before we begin its important to check the limit screws – you’ll find these at the rear of the mech, two small screws, often marked with ‘L’ and ‘H’.

The limit screws determine the full range of movement of the derailleur. They stop the chain from falling off the inside of your cassette, and potentially into your spokes (no one wants that) or to stop the chain falling off the outside of the cassette, towards your frame.

To check your limit screws you have to:

  1. Shift the gears so that you are in the smallest sprocket in the rear derailleur.
  2. By hand, push the mech all the way up toward the wheel until it reaches its full range of motion. Don’t push beyond this point or you can and will damage it. Make sure that the mech is directly beneath the biggest sprocket.
  3. Slowly release the mech and check that it lines up perfectly with the smallest sprocket of the cassette.
  4. If the mech isn’t lining up perfectly with either the biggest or smallest sprockets, you need to adjust your limit screws. Depending on the make and age of your mech, this is typically carried out with either a crosshead or Phillips head screwdriver. We have plenty of multi-tools that includes both of these.
  5. You now need to adjust the limit screws so that the mech lines up perfectly at either end of the cassette.
  6. Adjust the ‘H’ screw to adjust the mech when the bike is shifted down to the smallest sprocket. Tune this up until the chain is perfectly in line with the small sprocket.
  7. Turn the ‘L’ screw to adjust the mech when the bike is shifted up to the biggest sprocket. Tune this up until the chain is perfectly in line with the large sprocket.
  8. Hey presto, the limit screws are now correctly set.

Tune it up

Now that you have your limit screws where you want them, its time to tune the indexing of your bike’s rear mech. To do this we must now use the small barrel adjuster, it’s usually located near the shifter or on the derailleur. Road bikes often have an inline barrel adjuster on the cable. It increases or decreases the tension on the cable, which in turn alters how the mech moves up and down the cassette.

  1. Change your gears so that the chain is running on the small chainring at the front and the smallest sprocket of the cassette.
  2. Shift up the cassette (towards the biggest sprocket) and observe how well the chain is moving up and down. You may notice that it takes some time for the chain to get into the next sprocket, or doesn’t shift at all. If your gears are shifting ‘slow’ you will need to turn the barrel adjuster counterclockwise (as you look on it from the back of the bike) until the shift is smooth. Rotating the adjuster counterclockwise effectively moves the entire mech toward the wheel.
  3. From there work your way up the cassette while still in the small ring, making small adjustments with the barrel adjuster as you go until the shifts are all perfect. Turn the adjuster clockwise if you need to move the mech away from the wheel.
  4. When you’re happy that you’ve achieved smooth, fast shifting through the gears when you’re in the small chainring, go through steps 2 to 3 while on the big chainring at the front.
  5. When you’ve completed all the steps you should find your gears running as smooth as they did when the bike was new.

Categories
Bikes Maintenance News

Homemade Bike Fit

Do you often find yourself getting back from a ride with a nagging problem or pain? Maybe a finger is numb, or your back is sore, a stiff neck even? Nine times out of ten if you’re feeling discomfort or pain from cycling then you need to look at how your bike is set up. The frame size, saddle height, and cleat positioning all play a contributing factor to how comfortable you are while riding your bike.

If you’re sat there scratching your head and wondering how on earth you can figure this out to the nth degree, you’re not alone, but don’t worry you’re not looking for centimetre perfect. A professional bike fit is expensive for a reason, it takes a knowing eye and a ton of measurements to get you properly aligned and fitted on your bike. However, there are changes you can do at home to get yourself as comfortable as possible while riding, which in turn, will make that daily exercise on the bike that little bit more enjoyable.

Frame Size

This is for people yet to buy a bike or looking for a new bike. It’s important to do your research when buying a new bike, remember, no changing of saddle height or cleat positioning will fix a frame that’s fundamentally too big or small for you. The geometry and frame size will differ for different brands so try and find a sizing guide online or ring the shop and ask for help. Any bike shop worth its salt will help you find the right bike size for you.

Saddle Height

Getting the saddle height correct on your bike can be the difference between making it and breaking it on a ride. What you may not know is that niggle of pain you are experiencing can lead to more serious injuries, overreaching and rocking your hips while cycling is a sign that your saddle is the incorrect height. I’m sure on many occasions you’ve stopped on the side of the road to make minor adjustments to your saddle, just to get back on and huff in irritation as it still doesn’t feel ‘right’. So, let’s look at the steps we can take to get our saddles as close to perfect as we can.

How to Fit a Triathlon or Time Trial Bike Part 2: The Pelvis ...

If you’re more of a hands-on learner then position the crank arms so that they’re parallel to the seat tube (or half-past 12 on the face of a clock). Sit on the seat and put your heel on the pedal. If you can’t reach the pedal, lower the seat until you can; if your leg is bent at the knee, raise the seat just until it’s straight.

For those who prefer a more mathematical approach to set your saddle height (and have cleats) then stand barefoot on a hard floor, back to a wall, with a book snugged up between your legs, spine facing away. Measure from the floor to the top of the book spine. Multiply that number by 0.883 and subtract 4mm (1/8th inch). The result is your seat height, measured from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the seat, along the seat tube.

If you’re out and about and need a quick fix then a rule of thumb is lean over your bike with the saddle tucked into your armpit, stretch your arm down and you should be able to reach the crank bolt with your finger, this should get you there or about.

Cleat Positioning

Your cleats and pedals are key contact points between your body and bike and if positioned incorrectly can cause a world of problems including performance issues and injuries. So, here’s a 6-step process you can do at home to make sure your cleats are positioned to make your ride as comfortable as possible. Make sure you do both feet as they may position differently.

Draw a line
  1. With your cycling shoes on and tightened, you want to find the ball of your foot on both the inside and outside of the shoe. When located mark them with a pen, you might want to put masking tape on your shoes first to stop them from getting ruined.
  2. Now take your shoes off and flip them upside down and draw a line between the two marks and locate the centre and make a mark. The shoes have markings on the bottom so this should help you find the middle.
  3. Take your cleat and locate the centre, most cleats will have an indication where the centre of the cleat, this is the point that sits directly over the pedal axle.
  4. Grease up the bolts before fitting. It will protect the thread from all the water and road debris.
  5. Fit cleat, loosely, aligning your mark with the point on the cleat where the centre of the pedal axle will be, once you are clipped in. Most cleats provide a marker on the side, by way of a notch or line to indicate the centre of the pedal axle, so it is just a case of lining up your mark with theirs.
  6. Move the cleat side-to-side to influence how close the foot sits to the centre-line of the bike. If you ride with your knees wide at the top of the pedal stroke, move your cleats inwards to move the foot outwards. If you ride with knees narrow at the top of the stroke, move the cleats towards the outside of the shoe and the foot inwards.

When you’ve completed all steps make sure they’re adequately tightened and then head out on your bike to make sure that everything feels comfortable. If they’re set up differently from before it may feel a bit unusual to start but you’ll notice an improvement to your pedalling after not so long. If they feel uncomfortable you may want to take them off and try again.

After any changes to your bike, no matter how small, be sure to go round the block once or twice on to make sure it feels comfortable and make any necessary tweaks.

Categories
Maintenance News

Bike Cleaning 101

If you’re anything like me you may be going slightly crazy at being confined to the four walls of your house for long periods of time. Our houses, as pleasant as they may be, seem to get smaller and smaller as the days go by. ‘Hmm, I swear this room was bigger’ you may ponder to yourself as you walk through the door to your living room for the 98th time of the day. We’re naturally outdoorsy people and the once-a-day rule, appreciated as it is, is difficult. During this difficult and mundane situation, we thought to keep everyone sane and learn to love our bikes inside and out that little bit more (but is that even possible?) by posting weekly maintenance tips and general bike TLC.

We’re going to start with the basics, everyone thinks they know how to wash a bike. A cloth, some warm water and a bike cleaning kit you bought from Aldi for £4.99. Yet, there are many dirty bikes out there…go figure. So, let’s go through a step-by-step guide detailing exactly what you should be doing and what products you can use to get your bike sparkling clean for that daily outing.

What you’ll need:

  • Bucket and sponge or hose
  • Degreaser
  • Bike wash fluid (preferably biodegradable)
  • Brushes
  • Paper cloth
  • Chainlube
  • Chain cleaning device

How to clean your bike: step by step guide

1. Rinse the frame down

Might sound obvious but start by giving the frame a basic wipe with a sponge and a bucket of water – as tempting as it is, don’t blast it with a pressure washer as this will force water into the bearings.

Spray the bike with a bike cleaning product like Muc-Off cycle cleaner and leave it on for a couple of minutes to break down the grease and dirt.

Then, with more clean water, use a soft-bristled brush (dustbin brush will do) to give the bike a thorough scrub.

Don’t ever be tempted to substitute the bike cleaning product and soft brush with washing up liquid and a kitchen sponge – this can result in a scratched or even colour faded frame.

2. Clean the rims and brake pads

Give the rims on your wheels a good wash and wipe, and (if you’re using rim, not disc, brakes) wipe the pads to make sure there’s no crud on there that could erode the braking surface (whatever you do, DO NOT USE WD40 on any braking surface)

3. Use a degreaser on the derailleurs and chainset

Next, spray the derailleurs and chain set with a degreasing agent (and give them a good (but gentle) scrub. It may be easier to take the chain off the chainring to do this.

4. Use the degreaser on the cassette and chain

Spray more degreaser over the chain and cassette – and give them a scrub. Using a gear brush really helps you to get into the cassette cogs.

If the chain still looks mucky, use a chain cleaner, simply fill the unit with a degreaser, snap it on and rotate the pedal backwards to feed the chain through. Dispose of the degreaser safely when you’re done.

5. Rinse the frame, dry and lube the chain

Rinse the soap off the bike, dry the chain with an old towel or rag and apply chain lube to the chain and the pivot points on the derailleurs. Finally, use a leather chamois to soak up any excess water then buff your bike with a paper towel or soft cloth. This will also help prevent mud from sticking when next out riding.

And voila, you’re bike now looks as good as new and runs that little bit smoother. Remember – if you look after your bike, your bike will look after you.

Come back next week for another great bike maintenance post by the Hargroves Team.

Now, put theory into practice and get out there to give your bike that well-needed clean.