Bicycle Maintenance 101

Bicycle Cassette teethI’ve ridden bicycles for decades and thought that I understood their maintenance. One procedure that I have trouble with is derailleur adjustment, so when my Trek 7900 hybrid bike’s rear derailleur stopped shifting smoothly, I took it to Miguel Escobar, the chief mechanic at a Fort Lauderdale bike shop.

I expected that Miguel would carefully adjust my bike’s rear derailleur. Instead, after noticing that both up- and down- shifts were erratic, Miguel began carefully cleaning my bike’s freewheel, followed by cleaning and lubricating the chain.

I thought that clean freewheels and chains looked nice, but aside from reducing friction, I wasn’t aware that they affected gear shifting. I was wrong. Miguel pointed out that dirt and oil form a sticky paste that glues the chain to each cog on the freewheel, so the chain doesn’t obediently follow the rider’s shift commands.

He’s right. After the freewheel cog cleaning, the bike shifts gears smoothly. I still have lessons to learn, even on relatively simple devices.

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695


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