Learning the craft of Bike mechanics

I was chatting to my mechanic mate and he was, erm, “talking” about the bottom bracket used on a < name redacted > bike. That particular BB has two variants, internal and external. For most of the production run they used one but for one small batch they used the other but didn’t think to tell anyone! If you looked on that company’s website for the model you’d assume it was all straightforward but it was anything but.

Away from BBs & headsets, the most complicated thing on a bike is indexing gears, even then it’s a case of doing it slowly and methodically. Most other things are relatively straightforward.

*< name redacted > is one of the major manufacturers!

Huh, I’ve always found those dealer manuals from Shimano’s to be really useful. Drawings like that are never super easy to read but the 40 page document on shifters is way better than SRAM just not having anything. And they make it very clear what models are covered in each manual.


The PDFs on Shimano’s website are good. The information sheet included with the part is just that. It’s not a manual.

Here’s where you should go for manuals.

Get in there and try fixing/installing stuff. You’ll learn all the quirks of your bike. Use a torque wrench. Pay attention to details. Come back in here if you get stuck.

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Yup that’s it. And choose the ‘Dealer Manual’. The ones that come with the parts are usually just disclaimers or warnings.

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I wonder if anyone here has done the Barnett Bicycle Institute courses?

The program I took at Winterbourne is a sister-school of Barnett. Same textbook materials, content, and approach.

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Not a bike mechanic but I’ve learned to wrench on my bikes. I always had interest but not the confidence as I was scared to “break” my bike. A friend of mine who is very skilled encouraged me and gifted me a bike stand. That got me started, and a couple of years later, I’m picking out my own components and building my bikes frame-up.

Here’s my $.02 for beginners:

  1. Detail clean your bike often. This will force you to look at every part of the bike and become familiar with it. :eyeglasses:

  2. Take photos of the problem area before you start messing with it. :camera_flash:

  3. Watch a couple of YouTube videos to familiarize yourself of the task at hand. Park Tool is an excellent source to reference:
    Also check the manufacturers site for a manual. :open_book:

  4. If you are really starting from the beginning, the first thing to learn is how to remove and install the wheels. After that learn how to replace a tube (or tubeless fluid) and tire. :bike:
    These are the best tire levers I’ve used:

  5. Almost all components have a torque specification. Buy a toque wrench/key like this and always use it. :wrench:

  6. Buy tools only as you need them, and always buy the correct tool for the job. Don’t buy the “100 piece super starter do-it-all bike repair kit”. :no_entry_sign:

  7. As a beginner, don’t work on your bike when you’re short on time and patience. It is normal for repairs to take 10x longer the first time. That 5 min YouTube video will take you an hour to do. :clock10:

  8. If you get stuck, search Google, YouTube, Park Tool, and the manufacturers site. You might find the answers there faster than waiting for a forum reply. But do post on the forum if you’re stuck. :sos:

  9. Still stuck? Head to the local bike shop and ask the mechanic. If you think the advice was valuable, tip them. :tipping_hand_man:

  10. Still no luck? Time to take your bike to the pros. No shame in doing that. There will be plenty of other wrenching opportunities. :+1:

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