Rubber Side Down: A Plea for Bike Maintenance

WARNING: The image you are about to see is graphic in nature and may not be suitable for small children or ElliptiGo riders.

A single tear has been shed for this bike.

Horrific right?! Today we’re going to talk about the guy that owns this bike, the scourge of the professional bicycle mechanic. A man that doesn’t care what happens to his bike or his mother. A godless man who tips 4% and eats the last cookie without even asking.

The most uninterested man in the world. 

He doesn’t always clean his bike, but when he does, he throws it in the ocean and waits for it to wash back to shore.

This man is worse than a Fred. A Fred may not know how to ride his bike but at least he takes care of it. This man is at large and he must be stopped. With the power vested in me by Art’s Cyclery and the church of the mountain, I declare that you don’t have to be this guy. You can become the hero that your bike deserves and the one your local mechanic needs. You CAN and you SHOULD work on your own bike.

5 Reasons You Should Work on Your Own Bike

  1. It makes riding more enjoyable. If your bike works properly, you’re more likely to ride, and more likely to have a good time doing so. A bike with brakes that drag and are noisy with unreliable shifting distracts from the beauty of riding a bike and no one wants that.
  2. It’s smart. Poorly maintained bikes are unsafe and prone to failure. Don’t be that guy with components coming loose that has to stop every five minutes to duct tape something back together. It compromises everyone’s safety and that guy doesn’t get a call when the next group ride comes around.
  3. It’s useful. If you get a “mechanical” out on the trail or 20 miles from home on a road ride, having some basic mechanical skills can get you back home without ruining your ride. Take the time to learn a little bit about bike maintenance. You won’t regret it.
  4. It’s fun. Wrenching is not for everyone, but give it a shot and you might just end up enjoying yourself. Your bike is a fascinating piece of machinery and making adjustments and quick fixes with your own two hands is a rewarding experience.  Maintenance and small repairs can even be quite relaxing. Throw on some tunes and get dirty.
  5. It saves money. If you learn how to do a little bike maintenance yourself instead of bringing it in to the shop for every little thing, it will save you time and money in the long run. There is a bit of a learning curve but if you start small and follow the instructions found in the Art’s Cyclery learning center, you can become a home mechanic in no time.
Now that you’re ready to get wrenching, check out our 7 Essential Tips for Proper Bike Maintenance to get off on the right pedal.

Rubber Side Down is a weekly column dedicated to the fledgling cyclist in all of us. Art’s Cyclery Web Content Editor Jerald Westendorf is not a professional cyclist, and doesn’t try to masquerade as one either, but he does love to ride bikes. Whether you are clipping in for the first time or counting down the days until your first race, read on, learn from his mistakes, and keep the rubber side down.