Whether you’re cycling to work, the shops, the post office, meeting friends, or even just out for a Sunday ride, knowing how to fix and maintain your bike is important for your bicycle, as well as your own safety.
From personal experience, you’re most likely to get a puncture when you’re not carrying a pump and tyre levers with you.
Bike repair stations have all the tools you need to fix the majority of common roadside problems, and the workstation makes fixing these issues much easier.
Plus, there’s a floor pump with both Presta and Schrader valves to save your arms from a mini-pump workout.
We’ve included a simple but effective maintenance guide that can be performed on any bike repair station.
What tools are included in a bike repair station?
- Philips screwdriver
- Flat screwdriver
- Hex key set
- Tyre levers with steel core
- Adjustable spanner
- Flat wrench 8x10mm and 13x15mm
- Torx Key set (Including T25)
Using the Station
The station acts like a mechanic’s workstation – by placing the saddle of your bike between the durable rubber grips, your bike will be stable enough for you to easily navigate the bike for maintenance.
The major advantage of a workstation is it allows you to test a bike’s gears by spinning the pedals, without turning the bike upside down, or lifting the rear wheel awkwardly.
The tools are on long steel cables, so you’ll be able to get to every part of your bike with it securely in place.
Here’s a rundown of some common maintenance fixes using the M check method.
Note that if you’re unsure about any of the issues mentioned, it’s best to consult your local bike shop first. Don’t attempt to replace bearings or take apart your headset or bottom bracket unless you’ve done so previously.
The M Check Maintenance Guide
You don’t need your saddle slipping halfway through your ride, even less do you want a wheel coming loose. The M-check is a simple but thorough method that cover your bike, regardless if it’s a hybrid, mountain bike, or road bike.
It’s called an ‘M’ check thanks to the shape of an M mapping over your bike. Handy, right?
Starting with your front wheel, move up to checking the handlebars, before down to the bottom bracket, back up to the saddle, and lastly your rear wheel.
Using this method, we can identify problems, and fix them using the bike repair station.
Your wheel may have either a quick-release lever or some kind of thru-axle bolt. Regardless, ensure the wheel is securely in place.
By gripping the wheel, move it side to side to check the hub of the wheel isn’t moving.
With the bike on the repair station, spin the wheel to check you don’t get a grinding sound – this could mean the bearings in the hub need replacing.
If the wheel isn’t spinning freely, it could be that your disc or rim brake is rubbing. Adjust your brakes accordingly, but make sure to check the brake still works again afterwards.
Firstly, check your tyres are well inflated. If your tyre has deflated over the course of a day, you could have a small or ‘slow’ puncture. If it’s gone flatter quicker, then it just means there’s something more substantial in the tyre/tube.
Go over the tyre to look for excessive wear and cracks. The tread of the tyre should be mostly intact to still provide enough safe grip. A heavily worn tyre can be dangerous on the road, so it’s best to be cautious here.
If it looks like you have a flat, then first remove the tyre using the tyre levers on the station. Next, take the inner tube and look for the puncture. If it’s not obvious, use the pump to slightly inflate the tyre, and work your way slowly around the tyre with it close to your ear or mouth so you can hear/feel the air escaping.
After you’ve found the puncture, you can either repair the hole with a puncture repair kit, or simply use a new inner tube and repair the old one later on. After the new inner tube is good to go, check your way carefully around the inside of the tyre to see if the offending thorn or piece of glass is still there.
Next, put some air in the tube so it holds its shape. Then put one edge of the tyre in the wheel, so you can put the valve of the tube through the rim, and work the tube into the tyre. From there it’s a case of fitting the other edge of the tyre in, working your way gradually around the wheel. It may take some force to fit the tyre finally, but you can always use a tyre lever to help.
Check your brake pads for wear. Rim pads usually wear at a faster rate than disc brake pads, but both will degrade substantially quicker in winter – so be sure to check these more often.
Your rim pad should have a line to mark where you should look to replace it. For rim pads, look to ‘toe’ them in from the front. That means placing them at a slight angle to improve performance, and prevent squeaking.
If the brakes feel slack in the levers, or just too cushioned, you may need to tighten the cables for rim brakes, or if you’ve got hydraulic disc brakes, bleed the fluid.
Saddle and Seatpost
Check your seat clamp is attached securely, and that the saddle is properly attached to the seatpost.
If your saddle needs adjusting, remove the bike from the station, and use the relevant hex key to loosen the clamp, then put your saddle to the required height, and tighten the clamp. Make sure to use a little crease on the rails of the saddle, and for the seatpost where it’s locked by the clamp.
By holding the bike’s frame steadily, you can try to move the saddle by hand. If you can, then identify whether it is the seatpost or the saddle that’s moving. Tighten the relevant bolts using the hex key set. You shouldn’t be able to move either by hand, otherwise it’s likely to slip when riding.
Bottom Bracket, Pedals, Gears
With the bicycle securely on the stand and the drive-side facing you, hold the pedal and move the cranks backwards to check the drivetrain is running smoothly.
If there is limited movement or a severe creaking, then the bottom bracket might need servicing or replacing. Similarly, move the cranks back and forward from the frame to see if there’s excess play.
If there is a clicking or rubbing noise, then your gears may need adjusting. To do this, use the torx key set to adjust your rear derailleur to it’s in line with the relative cogs on the cassette.
Do the same with the front mech and change throughout your bike’s full range of gears while spinning the pedals with your hand.
Handlebars and Headset
Firstly, check to see if there is any excess play in the headset. To do this, take the bike of the repair stand, and grip the handlebars with the front brake on, moving backwards and forwards.
If there is too much movement you’ll need to tighten the headset. Use the hex key set to tighten, but this should not be overtightened – you’ll still need a full range of steering, just without the excessive play.
Should there be grinding when you turn the bars, the headset bearings may be worn and will require replacing.
Next, go over to your stem to check all bolts are tight enough to prevent the handlebars from slipping. Tighten the 4 bolts attaching the bars to the stem individually and gradually to prevent threading the bolt.
Put your legs between the front wheel and test to see him the handlebars move. If your bike has flat handlebars, ensure the brake levers are securely in place.
Regular checks and Cleaning
The M check is a memorable and important way of thoroughly checking your bike. The more regularly you do it, the better you’ll get to know your own bike and quickly identify any problems.
Always be on the lookout for any creaking and loose parts on your commute or weekend rides. Once you’ve noticed anything, get it fixed quickly and swiftly, being sure to test everything works before heading out on your bicycle.
One of the best ways to avoid potential problems is to regularly clean your bike. It may feel like a chore, but keeping grit and dirt off your drivetrain will dramatically decrease wear.
For more information on our bike repair stations, visit this page.