shop talk

A number of local riders have been talking about finding a space where we can get together once-a-week or so to drink beer and wrench on bikes. Winter is such a great time to restore old bikes and to upgrade newer ones. This has raised the question of repair stands.

A recent issue of Bicycling featured a how-to guide on building your own bike repair stand. The plans were from Jim Langley, whose website is loaded with excellent material. His “wrench” page is an invaluable resource for any home mechanic, especially those of us on a budget.

In the course of digging up Langley’s article on Bicycling, I also found a page listing eight different do-it-yourself bike repair stands. Check it out. Find a design that fits your skill set and financial means. Pay a visit to your local hardware store. Build the stand. And then go get your fingers greasy. Working on bicycles is something everyone can learn to do. Make good use of the mechanics at your local bike shop when you encounter tasks that are beyond your know-how. But don’t shy away from the simpler and no-less-necessary tasks, like cleaning your drive train, and adjusting your brakes and derailleurs.

If you’re the book-learnin’ type, I highly recommend Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance (or its companion, Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance). The manual is thorough and comprehensive, covering the easiest to the most complex jobs, and identifying beforehand what level of skill is required for each task. The diagrams and illustrations are exceptionally helpful. The writing is remarkably clear. And the book costs less than the majority of bike repair books available, most of which aren’t as good in my opinion.

If you prefer online resources, you can’t beat Bicycle Tutor and Sheldon Brown (in addition to Jim Langley’s site mentioned above).

We’re still a long way from any sort of bicycle co-op, but this is certainly a step in the right direction, and something that’s sure to help the winter months pass a bit more pleasantly. (It’s certainly better than riding a trainer!)

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