I do at all times prefer to learn by doing something useful(*) rather than taking formal classes (I’ll never get dragged back into school having seen the educational system for what it is). Hence, my approach to learning bike repair is acquiring slightly broken, that is, slightly more broken than what I can immediately fix, and then fix them up.
(*) I suspect this is a consequence of having gone to phd-school. I am quite confident that I can teach myself anything that can be described in a book, not that many thing can, though.
Here is what I have learned so far, pretty much all thanks to bicycletutor.com and Park’s Big Blue Book.
- Fix a flat.
- Change tires (take wheels off and put them back on).
- Do a complete overhaul of a cup and cone bottom bracket (including the installation of raceless bearings).
- Install and adjust a front derailer.
- Adjust rear derailer.
- Clean and lube the chain.
- Break a chain and put it back together.
- Replace brake cables.
- Adjust brakes (and change brake pads).
- Remove and install handle grips.
Obviously I don’t know much yet, but it is quite nice to look at a bike after it is done and say to myself (and anyone who cares to listen, LOL): “I did that. I made this work”. There is a world of difference between that and white collar work, where half a years of work may result in some report of some sorts that is really only understandable to you and a few others.
BTW I must say it is quite amazing how little parts actually cost. We’re talking cents and dollars; not even close to ten dollars. In case you’re interested, I do my part shopping at Niagara Cycle Works as they seem to have pretty much everything. The average I have spent on fixed up bikes so far (I have done three so far) has been around 6 bucks. Oh yeah, and about 3-6 hours on top of that, but I had fun.