Bikes & Gear
Bicycles combine simplicity and complexity and are more than mere vehicles that convert muscle power into movement. They facilitate transport, work and relaxation and are a means for friends to be together.
Since its origin around 1880, the bicycle has kept the same basic design: two wheels, a saddle, a drivetrain system and handlebars. However, the components have become significantly more complex. Some parts may even be so exclusive that it is best to contact the manufacturer if there are any problems. (Calvin Jones, Park Tool Company)
Mountain bikes, BMX bikes, racing bikes, cyclo-cross bikes, track bikes, touring bikes, etc.: every bicycle has its own specific property. And even these categories also have a wide range of properties: 26 or 29 inch, full suspension and hardtail. Every brand has its unique characteristic: Merckx, Ridley, Trek, Merida, Colnago, Cannondale, etc.
Every individual bicycle component also has its own varieties and properties.
Carbon fibre, aluminium and flax carbon frames all have their individual properties, such as rigidity, strength, etc. and often require specific adjustment.
Wheels can have deep or shallow rims, laced spokes, different hubs, Rohloff, Nexus, etc.
There are also various types of tyres, with or without tubes; there are rim brakes and hub brakes.
Drive train, derailleur and brake systems are mainly supplied by three companies offering different ranges. These are Shimano, Sram and Campagnolo, which share the market with a number of smaller players.
Over and above the general tools, such as screwdrivers, (Allen) keys and a wide range of pliers, mechanics need a fair amount of specialised equipment to be able to work on all parts requiring repairs or adjustment. Chain tools, tyre levers, spoke keys, wheel-truing stands, etc.
Besides all the standard bicycle components, there is an abundance of accessories to adorn your bike, some of which may be required by law, such as lights, bicycle pumps and dynamos. There are also accessories facilitating transport or riding itself, e.g. bags and carriers, bicycle stands, satellite navigation systems (dominated by Garmin) and heart-rate monitors (Polar, Suunto, etc.).
Working on a bike without knowing the basics of how it is constructed can be very frustrating. Knowing how bicycles work will give you the confidence to go on longer rides and to do the repairs yourself on the side of a single track or the road. It will also enable you to keep your bike perfectly maintained and to prepare it for your next ride.