Bike Maintenance Course: Put to the Test

If you don’t know your shifters from your sprockets or your bottom bracket from your barrel adjusters, maybe you need to attend a Ride On Bike Maintenance course? That’s exactly what Ride On Trustee Louise Clarke did, and it was a valuable learning experience and lesson in bicycle safety, as she reports.

As a Ride On Trustee I’m a loyal supporter of the charity’s vision ‘for a clean, healthy and more active Exeter and Devon’. But I’d never actually tried the high-quality bicycle maintenance training and education on offer. So I jumped at the chance to join fellow students Toby and Matilda, and Ride On Workshop Manager Sam White, one Saturday morning in May for the basic Brake and Gear adjustment workshop.

Safety first!

I turned up with my very own 12-year-old Specialised Tri-Cross which I use for daily travel. Fitted with panniers, a rack and a ‘Cycle Whatever the Weather’ yellow squeaky duck, it’s my prize possession. So I was shocked to discover during the brakes section of the training that my bike was at risk of being condemned! Sam used a special instrument (apparently used in dentistry) to measure the thickness of my wheel rims and found them to be well below the safe minimum. As suspected I also needed new tyres. I must admit a couple of people had commented on their baldness!

It was obviously time to pay attention and learn something! We began with the gears and Sam showed us how the High and Low limit screws are used to accurately define the limits of the derailleur and stop the chain going into the spokes or the frame. We were also shown how to master indexing, improve cable tension using the barrel adjuster and achieve crisp shifting every time. We then moved onto brakes and how to replace cables and pads. 

This course is designed to tackle common faults with bikes and is aimed at people who are new to bike maintenance. It was a relaxed pace. Sam explained each element clearly and gave us plenty of time for questions. The classes are limited to four people to ensure everyone is well supported.

Finely tuned machine

Another bike maintenance course attendee was equally impressed:

“Well it was finally time to take some ownership for basic servicing of our family’s bicycle collection. Having watched a whirlwind of videos on YouTube on how easy it was to adjust the rear derailleur and failed miserably, I attended the Ride On introductory bike maintenance session in May to get me over the knowledge hump.  

Sam was running the session and was a fountain of friendly knowledge, providing a great overview of the key components and how to get everything running smoothly.   We worked on our own bicycles during the session, so I now have a finely tuned machine that I enjoy riding again and a list of tasks for the family’s bicycles!”

I also spoke to Sam to find out more about the aims of the course:

”Our basic maintenance courses aim to provide you with the skills needed to tackle some of the most common bike maintenance issues – brakes, gears and puncture repair.

We prefer to use the customer’s own bike as this means the training is most relevant. It is great to see so many customers going on to make use of our Bring Your Own Bike sessions (open workshops where you can rent a workstation to fix your bike) to further build on their skills after the course. ”

Click the links if you are interested in trying one of Ride On’s Training Courses or BYOB and for full details.

Courses on offer include:

  • M Check, Basic Maintenance & Puncture Repair
  • Brake & Gear Adjustments
  • Cycle Touring 101