Though it is early on in the game, with the World Tour commencing most likely in 2016 or 2017, being that I am an impeccably slow learner, especially when I don’t feel it is crunch time (ie, the night before the exam), I have spent a great deal of time scouring the Internets, pondering and considering what essential bicycle knowledge I need for the tour. As it stands right now, the tour could consist of many countries that include remote locations or simply no bicycle culture. What that means for me, is that not only do I need to know how to fix my bicycle, but also how to fix it without a bicycle stand, a vice or guidance.
While passing through one of the bicycle forums, a poster asked a similar question: “What do I need to know about my bicycle to tour?” One person’s somewhat agitated sounding response was that you needed to know EVERYTHING about a bicycle, if you’re even considering a world tour. While that makes sense and that I wouldn’t mind learning a bit about each part of the bike, I know that there are definitely more essential, need to know backwards and forwards, bits of knowledge than others. Like chain maintenance is invariably more important than handle bar tape (which I am as good at as birthday present wrapping (my birthday presents always look as if they were poorly handled baggage at the airport))
Like “pros and cons”, I always find it helpful to write a list to see of what you options you are working with. Since I am a somewhat impoverished artiste, using my printer as a foot stool due to my lack of funds to supply it with ink and also just like forcing strangers to read my “it looks like a writing with your bad hand, blindfolded competition”, I write it all out on lineless paper. I do this so that when I am done it, I can present it to others to consider my options. In this case, this list will consist of two columns, the knowledge that I have and the knowledge I that I must attain. I then have something I can present to bike shop employees as starting grounds to expand upon. Good bike shop folk, in my general experience, will not look down on you for admitting your lack of knowledge, but possibly praise you for your desire to learn more, rather than always relying on their expertise. It just shows your initiative and passion for cycling, which is something they probably understand all too well. My care isn’t being about to regurgitate the knowledge and names like a parrot, but to be able to practice these tools, commit them to memory and use them later when they are required.
So without further adieu, I present to you my list, of “Bike Stuff I Know and Bike Stuff I Think I Have to Know”
BIKE STUFF I KNOW
Tire and Tube – Tube patching, changing a tire
Wheel – Basic truing, removal, spoke replacement
Gears – Cassette removal, cleaning, basic knowledge of replacement
Chain – Replacement, fixing, lubing
Brakes – Minor adjustments, brake pad replacement, lever basic fixes
Seat – Raise and lower, removal
Handbars – Adjustment
Rack – Basic removal and replacement
BIKE STUFF I WISH TO KNOW
Brakes – Brake cable replacement, better understanding of brake levers and adjustment
Gears – Better understanding of cable tension and limiters and setting them
Wheel – Better truing skills, if I run out of spokes, semi-fix solutions
Pedals – Removal and replacing
In General – Additional, non-bike stuff I need in kit for jerry-ed up situations
There is a lot more bike information that I haven’t even considered and that is possibly essential knowledge. That’s why having a list is a good starting point, to know what you are missing by showing it to others and getting their opinions to fill in the blanks, building a comprehensive, inclusive list. Readers, if you have any additional ideas and essential bits of knowledge that you feel I have left out, please feel free to comment below. Again, bike knowledge is about exchange and conversation. If you don’t ask, you will never know!