Something not right with your bike?
Need to fix it yourself?
See our helpful guide to problem diagnosis and repair, and check out our Open Shop hours to have the chance to ask one of our mechanics and learn how to fix it yourself!
Also check out our Mechanics Course syllabus for a really in-depth guide to any bike fix! It covers a wider breadth and depth of topics than just the ones here.
What different types of bikes exist, and what are they used for? What kind of bike do I have?
Clean and lubricate your chain regularly (here's how!)
Check your brake pads to make sure they aren’t worn out.Worn out brake pads can damage your wheel!
Don’t leave your bike out in the rain and snow for extended periods of time! Check out storage options
Check your tire pressure frequently and fill up your tires when they get low
Register your bike with Dartmouth College (it is required to use campus racks and bike storage, and can help you find your bike if it gets lost or stolen!) at the Dartmouth Bike Shop or the SnS Office.
All right, so something isn’t working quite right on your bike. The first step in fixing it is diagnosing exactly what the problem is. This link has a nice troubleshooting aid. The following guide is sorted into different categories of fixes: tires, brakes, wheel, cable and housing, and shifting.
Do I need to buy tools?
In many cases, professional bike shops have extremely specific tools for specific jobs (as you will see featured in the videos). While sometimes necessary, for the most part these specialized tools are not the only way to get the job done. Try thinking outside the box, or seeing the notes below each video for substitute tools or household items that can be used in place of the featured tool. Tools with no adequate substitute are screwdrivers, wrenches, allen keys (also called hex wrenches or allen wrenches), chain breaks, spoke keys, etc. If you’re on campus, make sure you check out the Dero stand (LINK to later in this page) for any specific tools you might need!
Can I do it without a bike stand?
Most videos linked here use a bike stand to hold the bike upright and off the ground while they fix it. A bike stand can make a fix a lot easier, but in most cases is not necessary. Instead, you can flip your bike upside down and balance it on the handlebars and seat. If you feel that you want to use a stand, check out the Dero stand on campus, located between Robo and Collis!
Fun fact, tire levers used to be called SPOONS! Two cheap but durable metal spoons can be used in place of the tire levers in this video.
What Type of Brakes Do I Have?
Brake Caliper Mounting & Adjustment
Cables are used in most bikes to shift and to brake. They usually consist of a metal cable and a plastic housing over all or some of its length to protect it from the elements. Sometimes, the cable becomes bent or rusty and the housing dirty, which feels like extra tension when shifting or braking. Brake cable and brake housing are different from shifter cable and shifter housing.
Clippers Most types of heavier duty cutting tools (even some hedge clippers!) will work in place of the fancy housing and cable cutters.
Seal Pick Most slim pens will work!
How do gears work? All about the mechanisms involved (derailleur, cassette, etc.)
Intro to the Dero stand at Dartmouth
Detailed bike maintenance and troubleshooting guide: https://www.ifixit.com/Wiki/Bicycle_Troubleshooting
Slightly more technical guide: https://www.utahmountainbiking.com/fix/troubleshooting.htm
Jones, C Calvin. Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair: A Do-it-yourself Bicycle Repair Guide from Park Tool. 3rd ed. Saint Paul, MN: Park Tool Co., ©2008.