What Mechanical Skills Should You Have?

Eddy Merckx the mechanic

Back in the day, riders not only knew how their bikes worked, but also how to repair them.

Current technology and your day job make that tres dificile, but there are a few things you should, nay must, know how to do.  This list isn’t derived from what’s cool, or even what’s convenient; but rather what’s necessary if you want your bike to run as advertised.

Quick Releases.

For some reason, quick releases are rarely properly secured, and it can lead to serious issues. Quick releases can exert ridiculous amounts of force and pressure, and over tightening isn’t dissimilar to squeezing your hub in a vise and expecting it to spin smoothly.  Under tightening can (for obvious reasons) also be catastrophic.  On most standard QR’s the wheel should barely be grabbed when the QR handle is parallel to the skewer.  Note that all QR’s are not built with the same application of force in mind. Once you’ve done it properly, you can set any QR properly.  Contact us for a 2 minute demo.

Dropouts.

Hands down the biggest reason for poorly aligned brakes and dodgy shifting is wheels that aren’t sitting fully in the dropouts.  Put the wheels in, get the bike on the ground, apply some weight, visually check to make sure everything is seated, and then tighten the QR as per the point above.

Trim

Chains will rub front derailleur cages in certain gear combinations.  Trim was invented to eliminate that.  It’s essentially a mini-shift to move the front derailleur toward the middle of the range to avoid chain rub.  Di2 does it automatically in certain situations, hence the name auto-trim.  If you’re not sure if you have a front derailleur with a trim function, contact Le Domestique and we’ll let you know if you have it and how to use it.

Stem, Bar, and Seatpost

The notorious ‘unpacking skills’.  When you’re traveling and you have to attach any combination of your stem, bar, and seatpost, 2 things are necessary: 1) a torque wrench. This isn’t a ‘should have’ if you own carbon, aluminum, or titanium – it’s a must.  Manufacturers can produce really light bikes by making the tubing ultra thin, and attaching a torque value to the bolt associated with the part.  There is no such thing as ‘feel’ with torque – it’s is a serious safety concern, and to make it easy, torque specifications are available online for almost all parts (some have the torque values printed right on them).  2) tighten fasteners equally and incrementally.  When tightening any set of 2 or more bolts, tighten one until it starts to resist, then the next and so on.  After that, tighten each bolt by half turns until all bolts are up to torque.  This ensures that the parts isn’t ‘pinched’ down but rather the pieces are brought together in a uniform fashion.

As always, Le Domestique is here to help.  Don’t hesitate to ask.