Do-it-yourself bike repair: These tips will save you money

From a flat tire to a sagging chain to a broken gear shift: You can repair many small breakdowns on your bike yourself.

Jetting to the bike repair shop for every maintenance or minor defect not only costs money, but also time. That's why it's worth taking care of regular bike maintenance and minor defects yourself. It's easy to do with the right tools and the necessary know-how. In this article, we have already explained how to clean a bike properly. This is the ideal starting point for regularly checking all the necessary functions of your bike and repairing them if necessary. We'll tell you how to do it. 

Repairing a bike yourself: What you can do yourself and when it's better to call in a pro

There are many parts on your bike that can become slightly warped or loose over time. Most of them can be readjusted or replaced by yourself in just a few steps. We have listed the problems that usually save you a trip to the workshop and those when consulting a professional is best. 

  1. The braking power decreases.
    With the wear of your brake pads, the distance between the brake pad and rim changes. You will notice a reduced braking force. With hydraulic rim brakes, you can reduce the distance by the adjusting screw on the brake lever. With mechanical rim brakes, this is done via the tension adjuster or the screw for the mounting. With mechanical disc brakes, you have to adjust the distance separately on both sides, using the adjusting screw of the brake pad on one side and the tension adjuster on the other - the distance is secured by turning the lock nut. Hydraulic disc brakes, adjust themselves automatically with the wear of the brake pads.
    For advanced repairs or when to go to a workshop: 
    If the brake pads are completely worn out, they should be replaced. Here you will find step-by-step instructions. However, only carry out the replacement yourself if you have the right tools and know exactly what you are doing. 
  2. The gear shift sticks.
    It's quite annoying when the gears don't engage properly, the chain slips, or something on your gear shift clacks and rattles. Often this has a simple reason; the tension has loosened. You can adjust this yourself, using these detailed instructions for hub gears or derailleur gears.
    For advanced repairs or when to go to a workshop:  If the gear shift still does not run properly, a worn shift cable could be the cause. In this guide, you will learn step by step how to replace it yourself. Again, if you are unsure or not yet experienced in bicycle repair, it is better to have it done in a workshop. 
  3. The chain is sagging.
    If you ride a bike with derailleur gears, your rear derailleur adjusts the tension of your chain correctly. But on a bike with hub gears, your bicycle chain gets longer over time. Therefore, you should regularly retighten it so that it does not jump off when riding on uneven roads. To do this, turn your bike upside down and loosen the two fastening screws on the rear axle so that you can easily move the rear wheel. Now, move the rear wheel so far back that the chain can be moved up or down about one and a half centimetres - then it is tensioned just right. Then tighten the rear wheel again, and that's it. Here again a detailed instruction, also for wheels with chain tensioner.
    For advanced repairs or when to go to a workshop: If your bicycle chain has become too long or damaged, it's time to shorten it or replace it completely. Since you need special tools for this, the trip to the workshop can be worthwhile.
  4. You have a flat tire.
    A flat tire is the classic among bicycle punctures. It's a good thing that you can fix it yourself. To do this, first remove the flat tire and use the tire lever to pry the bicycle tire out of the rim. Then take out the flat tube and pump it up to find the hole. Once the hole is found, roughen the area around the hole with sandpaper and then clean it with grease-dissolving cleaner. Apply the patching fluid from your patching kit to the area around the hole and let it dry for 5-7 minutes. Apply the patch, press it down for several minutes, and you're done. Before you put the patched tube back on, you should carefully scan the tire casing from the inside for thorns or splinters. Don't let your tube break again. Here you will find detailed instructions for patching. 

Bicycle repairs can be learned!

We hope that this article gives you an overview of what bike repairs you can take on yourself. In general: If you are unsure about a problem, it is better to get help from a professional. This is especially true when it comes to safety-relevant parts such as your brakes. If you don't have much experience with bicycle repairs, a bicycle repair course may be worth your while. These are offered in many German cities by various workshops. For example, the adfc Berlin teaches you the most important techniques and the necessary know-how to get your bike up and running again. The Bike Repair app can also help you in case of a breakdown; in the app, you'll find around 60 tutorials on all kinds of bike repairs. You can find even more practical bike apps here!