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Bike Repair: 7 Common Problems And Fixes Without Going To The Shop

Whether you're cycling for sport, leisure, or utility, having some basic bike repair knowledge is a good skill to carry around if you own a bicycle.

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Bike Repair | 7 Tips Every Cyclist Should Know for a Smooth Ride

1. Bike Chain Slipped or Popped Off

focus photo of bicycle | bicycle repair

Chains that suddenly pop or slip off can be extremely annoying. The bicycle repair tip for this problem, however, will depend on the cause.

Sometimes, chains can slip off for a number of reasons such as pedaling hard while shifting between chainrings. This can cause your chain to pop off because it's already working overtime to move under the heavy resistance.

A quick solution to avoid this is simply to ease off while shifting gears. Avoiding those panicked shifts should let the chain move exactly where you would like it to go.

When the chain has already fallen off, however, all you have to do is simply put it back on.

Bike chains usually fall out of either the front chainring or the rear cogset. To put them back on, start by placing your chain back in the bike's bottom groove in the rear cog.

Next, drape it over the top of the front chainring's teeth before connecting the front chainring and the rear cogset again.

With the chain in place, turn the pedal slowly. This should pull your entire chain around the ring and back on the cogset.

2. Bike Chain That Keeps Falling Off

mountain bike gear set | bicycle

While an occasional popped-off chain might not be a problem, one that always falls off might be a symptom of a bigger problem.

Chains that keep on falling off most likely means that they're too long for the bike's frame. In these cases, you might either have to repair these broken chains or remove any additional chain links.

To get rid of broken links, grab a chain tool and put its pin through those broken links. Squeeze it hard until the bike chain breaks apart.

As much as possible, try to keep the pin partway through the link as it's hard to re-insert a totally removed pin.

If you have any spare links available, attach them to the chain. Use your chain tool to push the pin.

If you lack links, however, a quick solution is to simply get rid of the busted chain and link the ones left behind together. This should shorten the chain and later on affect the ride's quality. It'll also put some stress on the derailleur over time.

3. Bike Chain That Doesn't Shift Properly and Keeps on Skipping

closeup of blue bicycle | how to fix a bike

Putting on too much lube can cause grime to stick to your bike's cassette and chain. This will cause your chain to shift improperly and skip a lot.

A quick bike repair tip for this is to simply wipe off all that excess lube. Start by cleaning, rinsing, and drying your cassette and chain.

Degreasers made specifically for bikes and other chain-cleaning gizmos should be your go-to tools for this. If you don't have them, however, a toothbrush and dish soap should do the job just as well.

Now, apply a drop of lube on every roller while you turn the cranks backward for a few rotations. Finally, use a clean rag to grip the outer plates of the chain gently.

Spin the bike's cranks for another rotation as you wipe off any excess lube. That lube should be in the roller's chain and not outside where rime and dirt tend to stick to it.

4. Tires That Are Always Flat

flat tire of a bicycle | flat bike tire

A flat bike tire can be caused by a number of things such as underinflation, debris in the tire, or improperly installed tires.

To fix this, check the smooth area on the side of your bike tire. It should have the recommended PSI range printed on it.

At the very least, inflate the tube up to those numbers. For heavier riders, filling it to the maximum number is a must.

Additionally, make sure not to inflate your tires in air pumps located in gas stations. These are often too powerful and can easily cause your bike tire to explode.

When changing your tires, you should also check for any foreign objects like glass or gravel that may be stuck along the inside. Before inflating a new tube, be sure as well to check that it's not caught between the tire and the rim.

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5. Bolts That Loosen and Make Noise

bicycle brake | bike brakes

Loose bolts can also be very problematic as these nuts and bolts are what hold bicycles together. Avoid any problems that may be caused by these loose bolts by making sure they are secured tightly in place.

Friction and pressure can loosen bolts in areas like the seat post, handlebars, and stem. Make sure to always check up on them and make sure they're kept just tightly enough in place.

Avoid overtightening them as well as this can lead to an expensive bike repair job later on. Bolts that are too tight can get rounded and later on, ruin the bike's threads.

Invest in a torque wrench instead as these are highly accurate and removes any guessing when it comes to tuning. This type of wrench should let you control exactly how much force you'll apply.

Some newer bikes will even have the maximum torque limit indicated on them.

Remember that you don't need to re-tighten everything after every ride. Just make sure to keep an eye and ear out for any rattling or lose parts.

6. Seats That Are Either Stuck Too High or Too Low

bike leaning on a brick wall | bike chain

Having seats that are either stuck too high or too low can be a real bummer. Bikers often encounter this after lending their bike to a friend or when they buy a second-hand one.

To fix this, just loosen the binder and remove the bolt and collar. Next, soak the entire problem area using WD-40 before leaving it alone for an entire night. This should let the spray do its thing.

If the seat won't budge, grip the saddle and try twisting the post free. Use some pliers and a clamp to twist and pull the pieces apart if it still won't come off.

To avoid problems like these in the future, make sure to keep your bike's post well-greased and clean. Use electrical tape to mark the right height for your seat before removing it from the tube.

Use a clean rag to wipe the post down before slathering some grease on the post and the tube before you re-assemble everything back together.

7. Handlebars That are Grimy and Sticky

black bike | how to fix a bike

While this common problem won't really stop you from riding your bike, it'll make the entire experience highly uncomfortable if left unsolved. Leaving the handlebars of your bike through seasons of cycling in various weather and environmental conditions can wear it out and cause it to become sticky and gummy.

The bike repair tip for this is simple: just rewrap your bike's handlebars in a new tape. Begin by peeling off the old tape and using scissors to cut any stuck part off.

A majority of tape kits often come with two additional scraps of tape. Sticking them under the brake levers removes any gap from appearing between the handlebar and the brake apparatus.

Get your tape and start on the handlebar's dropped end's bottom. The tape's edge should be on the underside.

Start wrapping it up and over the handlebar's top tightly in a smooth, clockwise direction. Overlapping the edges will help you make sure that no gaps appear later on.

After getting to the brake levers, start flipping the plastic covers up and wrapping them carefully around the handlebar. Cut the tape off when it's already covered in tape before using electrical tape to wrap around it once or twice.

Afterward, just do the same on the other side.

Aside from these bike repair tips, Global Cycling Network shares here some bike repair mistakes that every cyclist should avoid:

These seven common bike problems can ruin any bike ride, whether it be for leisure, sport, or utility. Master these bike repair tips and no road will be too far nor too scary for you to travel with your bicycle.

What other common bike problems do you encounter? Share them with us in the comments section below and we'll give you the bike repair tips you need for them!


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