The Struggles and Triumphs of Working On Your Own Bike

It’s been what seems like an eternity. I’ve put all the spare time I can into it. It started with changing a chain. After that I had to change my freewheel. In order to change that I needed a specific freewheel removal tool. From there it felt like it was all downhill. Plenty of time and money spent later and I’m still trying to repair my bicycle… but there is a silver lining.

Everyone has had that moment of frustration. Something breaks and you get upset. You rage for a while then cool down and think, “I can fix this.” OH BOY, things are NOT that simple. My bicycle has been that story.

A little backstory into my bicycle. I bought it about 5 years ago (roughly) from Canadian Tire for $250. It’s your typical budget mountain bike. I’ll call it the “Big Blue Brute”. This thing has gotten be over 15,000km without changing pretty much anything. I think all I ever replaced on it was a pair of worn down brake pads for my disc brakes. I decided that I’d take my bike into the local bike mechanic and see what they think. They checked my chain for me and said that it definitely should be replaced, which they took care of. After that, I decided I’d try replacing or repairing everything else myself.

First thing I did was browse the web for different repair guides and prices for parts. I know that parts are definitely cheaper online, but I wanted to support my LBS since they were helping me with various different things already free of charge. Rachel, ended up getting me a small maintenance book aptly called, “Pocket Bike Maintenance“. It’s a perfect little guide for getting to know the basics and some of the more advanced things easily. Combining that with various different YouTube channels such as: Park Tool, Global Mountain Bike Network, and RJ The Bike Guy, I was able to get started on fixing up my bicycle.

I set forth on my adventure to the 3 different bike shops we have here, compared prices, and purchased a few different tools. Over the past few weeks of repairing one thing, finding out I’m missing something, going and buying the thing, and then coming home, I’ve acquired a tiny collection of bike tools for myself. Not only that, I’ve learned how to take off the cup and cone from my tires, degrease the area, and replace the bearings. I’ve managed to replace the freewheel myself with a little help from my brother. Unfortunately while pressing down on my wrench to get it off, we broke one of the spokes on the tire. SOOO.. I’ve also learned how to replace a spoke on my wheel, which meant the disc brake had to come off, which also meant I had to get some Loctite which holds the bolts in place. As you can tell, I’ve done quite a bit so far, yet I still have quite a bit to do.

The frustration I’m currently having is with indexing my gears. I know that if I had a proper bike stand, things would be easier. As time goes on that will be something I definitely look into. For now, I’m either stuck flipping my bike upside down like many people question to do or taking it to the park bike stand to repair it. Once I finally have that finished. I’ll only need to true the wheels and then I’ll be ready to go.

Through all this trial and error, I’ve definitely learned that repairing bikes yourself with proper tools can be quite expensive. Take some time to research each piece you want to fix. Decide on if you want to go to your LBS or buy online. I guarantee you that if you buy in bulk online, you’ll find yourself with many more repair options down the road since you’ll be saving quite a bit. If you just want to get back on the bike and ride, head down to your LBS and get things fixed there. This will definitely be the most expensive option, but if you have a nice bike, it might be worth it.

With all the frustrations and costs I’ve endured, that silver lining was the ability to fix up my cheap $250 bike for free now whenever I need to. I can do very thorough cleanings after long rides without much effort. I think the big one here is I’ve enjoyed the success of being able to fix up something so I can enjoy my hobby further. If anything, this has spawned a bit of a new hobby!

Don’t be afraid to DIY once in a while. Things might be daunting or they might seem expensive, but with a bit of time a research, it will definitely be worth it!

As always, enjoy your adventure!

One Reply to “The Struggles and Triumphs of Working On Your Own Bike”

  1. This whole process of fixing the bike sounds awfully a lot like building computers in Minecraft. To fix this you need part A. For part A you need B & C and so on haha. It’s good that you’re learning this though. Fixing it should be easier in the foreseeable future

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