The mechanic: cornerstone of cycling

Behind every rider is a good bike mechanic

Behind every rider is a good bike mechanic. Photo: Eddie Barkla

Aside from the whoosh of the tyres on the road, and the occasional clicking of the freewheel, a bicycle should be silent. One of the many joys of the freedom of cycling is when the speed is on in a large bunch where the whoosh of the tyres and the clicking of the freewheel and gears is magnified creating a cycling euphoria.

If your bike makes other noises, there is a fair chance it is a sign of a problem manifesting. Many of these problems can be cured easily at an early stage, just by tightening up a nut or bolt…but if you ignore the noise, it may result in serious damage to parts of your bike, and you may find yourself stranded or even injured when the problem gets more serious! Enter the bike mechanic, our local multi-talented individuals that we expect to have the capability to be the walking cycling encyclopaedia on all aspects of new innovations the best but cheapest cycling paraphernalia guaranteed to improve performance and make us look part of the local scene.

They are to have the ability to decipher and encrypt garbled messages that usually start with the words “someone said that if…” and know exactly what this means and relates to in product terms or improvements. The local cycling mechanic can be confronted with the task of resurrecting the precious trusty steed hidden in the back of the shed for eons but the mind of the beholder can only remember the joys of the first days when it was new and can’t accept that time has taken its toll and resurrection due date has long passed. Or they may well be working on the latest piece of imported cycling technology worth more than the old family car.

The mechanic is to have ultra sensitive hearing not just to read the mind of the owner of the bike who may have trouble articulating what is happening in detracting from the performance and the stillness of the peace and quiet of riding but to pick up that strange noise that is annoying the heck out of the individual.

Noises can relate to lose attachments such as water biddon holders or the chains in need of oil, to the chain scrapping on the derailer the squeak of the derailer cog bearing in need of lubrication, or brakes in need of aligning maintenance. Sound can come and go but when parts are wearing out the noises will more likely get louder and more persistent.

Most cycling mechanics are either cyclists of many years experience in the sport or new cyclists that are up and coming and find learning the art of maintaining the bike complements the time on the bike and knowing what performs the best in setting up and component selection.

Every so often there is a noise that can elude the trained ear as they can resonate through the wheels and along the frame dispersing the noise from the point of origin. Even the rubbing of a valve stem through the wheel can deceive the trained ear for a period of time with the simple fix of changing the rim tape to cloth to cushion the valve stem from making contact with metal. Some rattles and sharp pitched noise can be the metal end of the zipper in a cycling top and make us think there is a bike noise starting off or even the loose change in the under seat spare tube carrier can be misleading. Rhythmatic squeaks that equate to the body movement can be the seat rails moving in the saddle or pedal in need of bearing grease not to mention cleats on shoes that are past their use by date. There are the other more sinister squeaks and groan may even be something like a crack in the frame or the bottom bracket or wheel bearings all which can have devastating affects.

Your trusted local mechanic will require your input as to the where when and how the noise started such as have they resulted from recent a fall. Squeaks and squawks in the head stem area are best attended to sooner than later as there is nothing worst that getting out of the saddle to stretch the legs or climb the hill and find you don’t have the support to hold your weight.

The local mechanic has the added qualities and abilities to have a rapport not only with the bike but the rider as well so please be kind and occasionally feed them it helps keep them enthusiastic in doing a good job.

See you on the road soon God willing.

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