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#1
I was just wondering how everyone has learned what they know now? Have you learned by trial and error? Out of necessity to fix your own bike? Worked in a shop?

Sub-question. Are there some sort of workshops or classes you can actually take to learn about new technology in cycling?

For instance I would love to learn all about hydro brakes, suspension systems, even wheel building.
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#2
When I was young my parents didn't have a lot of cash, so I had to build my own bikes from parts I found at the dump. As a teenager I started working in bike shops, so I learned from hands-on experience.

Here's a few mechanic schools:
http://www.bbinstitute.com/
http://www.bikeschool.com/
http://www.winterbornebikes.com/winterborne-bicycle-institute
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#3
+1 to Alex's general history. My dad grew up on a farm and could fix nearly anything so we were raised with the attitude of "take it apart and see how it works". That was enough experience to get work in a few shops when I was younger.

REI also holds regular classes though they tend to be more on the basic end. I would also check out any bike collectives/coops that you might have in your area. There's a lot of small groups running classes all the time. Again, usually more basic maintenance stuff. But we do wheel building classes at the collective I volunteer at.
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#4
I did basic bike maintenance on my bike as a teenager. My father couldn't help, I'm sorry to say that he is a technical DNF, he can hardly drill a straight hole. I was always interested in how things work and took them apart just to figure that out. Recently (2007) I started with triathlon and bought an old road bike (~ '76 Peugeot). Since then I have been reading and learning a lot, some stuff from books, some stuff from Alex' or Sheldon's page, some stuff from a friend, some things were just trial and error. I'd say I'm now prepared to do most maintenance work on road bikes.

My local bike shop offers repair classes together with (dunno how you call it in English... the community college?)
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#5
Wow I did not know these existed. Sweet that they offer the courses, but none close to me. It would be awesome if someone offered an online course.
Good maintenance to your Bike, can make it like the wheels are, true and smooth!
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#6
Yeah, I'm gonna search for something similar here in FL
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#7
Let me know if any of you find a place to build wheels thats what I need to learn next.I live in Arkansas if that helps you find a place for me lol.I think the rest of the bicycle i can do with trial and error if I don't know how to fix it.To me wheel truing is the one thing I just don't understand and I would like to learn how to do this one job well.
My dad always told me a Sledge a matic can fix any thing.
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#8
Get a good book e.g Jobts Brandt's "Bicycle wheel" (don't have this one) or Roger Musson's http://www.wheelpro.co.uk/wheelbuilding/book.php (only available in electronic form for a small fee, very good book), get some cheap components, a [b]good[/u] spoke key and an entry level truing stand. I did it that way, I have built about 10 wheels in the past two years, all of them seem to be good. It is not rocket science, just lots of patience and some basic understanding of mechanics.
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#9
Me too, I spent years just fixing up old and my friends. I've always been good with my hands.

Your best going out and finding a local co-operative to teach you the basics. Then you're likely to find some friends to coach you along the way.

Good luck and enjoy the ride.
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#10
Do what I did. Buy the tools necessary to take apart your bike (Specific bottom bracket tool, cassette tool, make your own headset removal tool and press), a copy of Zinn and the Art of (whichever) Maintenance, and take apart your bike.

I mean every bolt. Then put it back together. Then do it again. Then do it to your wife's bike, kid's bike, neighbor's bike, friend's, relatives, riding buddies, and eventually stranger's bikes.

Buy appropriate tools along the way, and by the time you're done, not only will you have intimate knowledge of all sorts of different components, you will have put together quite a nice set of tools along the way.

In addition, you will now be the person people refer to when they say "Hey, I know a guy...", and you have a reputation. Thats what happened to me.
Dedicated scholar of bicycles
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#11
(01-16-2010, 01:05 PM)jr14 Wrote:  Do what I did. Buy the tools necessary to take apart your bike (Specific bottom bracket tool, cassette tool, make your own headeset removal tool and press), a copy of Zinn and the Art of (whichever) Maintenance, and take apart your bike.

I mean every bolt. Then put it back together. Then do it again. Then do it to your wife's bike, kid's bike, neighbor's bike, friend's, relatives, riding buddies, and eventually stranger's bikes.

Buy appropriate tools along the way, and by the time you're done, not only will you have intimate knowledge of all sorts of different components, you will have put together quite a nice set of tools along the way.

In addition, you will now be the person people refer to when they say "Hey, I know a guy...", and you have a reputation. Thats what happened to me.

Yeah it sounds like your telling my story, haha. Thats very similar to how my last year went. I had a good base knowledge and took most of those steps.
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#12
I have a feeling this is how it goes for most guys/girls that start wrenching.
Dedicated scholar of bicycles
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#13
Yeah, I get texts all the time now about someone needing to bring their bike by for me to look at it. I love it when someone finds out you know how to fix bikes and they say something like, "oh you can fix bikes, well my brothers bike is making a weird noise and doesn't change gears. What's wrong with it?" And they expect me to give them some profound answer right there.
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#14
Heh! I know what you mean. I had my brother's friend ask me if I worked on older bikes, to which I replied, "Of course!" She then asked me why the 1967 Schwinn beach cruiser she had squeaked every time she pedaled. Rolleyes

Turned out to be her stem. Go figure. Every time she pedaled, she favored the left side, and the stem bolt was JUST loose enough to squeak against the handlebar.

There is a lesson here: Just because it SOUNDS like or LOOKS like the problem is coming from one part of the bike, it doesn't mean it IS coming from that part of the bike. Like the frame creak on my dual suspension. I thought is was my bottom bracket. I was SURE of it. Creaked every time the crank rotated. I took out the BB, cleaned everything, put new anti-seize on the threads, torqued it perfectly, and the damn creak was still there. Know what it was? My seatpost. Torqued it right (carbon seatpost), no more creak.

I love playing detective.

*edit* You really should use some carbon fiber assembly gel when installing/tightening carbon components, but I was fresh out.
Dedicated scholar of bicycles
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#15
I'm sure we share similar experiences with auto mechanics and computer techs. People always asking them stuff
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#16
i fixed things that broke until i knew how.... some trial and error, but mostly trial. its not rocket science, just research things before you do them.
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#17
I learned through this site mainly to start with, then I got bored over last summer and reduced my bike to kit form. I've also done this with suspension forks. As with quite a few others it seems I'm one of those people who doesn't really fully understand how stuff works until it's in kit form and I can fiddle with the bits. I've also read countless manuals out of boredom mainly so now I understand how stuff works that I don't have.

I've also then attacked my mate's bikes when they've had issues, which has helped as well. The only thing I haven't yet attempted is a rear shock service, but that's only because I don't have a spare £500 to spend on a nitrogen charging kit; though I'm thinking of buying a Manitou one as my understanding is I can just charge that with a shock pump afterwards.
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#18
(06-07-2010, 08:32 PM)JonB Wrote:  The only thing I haven't yet attempted is a rear shock service, but that's only because I don't have a spare £500 to spend on a nitrogen charging kit; though I'm thinking of buying a Manitou one as my understanding is I can just charge that with a shock pump afterwards.

I can say I have played with and adjusted them but I do not think I am bold enough to take them apart. So you got one on me lol. Smile
Good maintenance to your Bike, can make it like the wheels are, true and smooth!
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#19
40+ yrs School of Hard Knocks, and still learning! I went the long way around to get to this point. I never really messed with my bike much as a kid because I was just glad I had one at all.

I first became "mechanical" when I took apart my first auto engine at age 16, but I could not get it back together. I took Auto Mechanics in high school and learned. The one thing I missed was to clean the carbon from the ring grooves before installing new piston rings, and then I would have completed the project. Smile

Over the years I have become much more mechanically inclined with courses in electronics (with an AAS in electronics) to work on various machines such as copiers, dialysis machines and aircraft navigation systems. I installed older nav systems (pre-GPS) for many years also getting into the construction side of things as well. Everything has contributed to where my mechanical knowledge and ability is today.

And now, I picked up Park's Blue Book, Van der Plas' Bicycle Repair book, and of course Alex's videos are excellent resources. But the MOST IMPORTANT thing to know when self-taught is to NEVER be satisfied with "good enough for government work" kind of attitude. It will bite you in the butt every time. Smile

Steve
Junkyard Tools rescued from the junkyard!
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#20
one lesson that took me a while to learn was, always buy the right tool for the job.... otherwise, its a disaster waiting to happen. without the right tools, you can turn a 10 minute job into days of down time, and triple+ the expense of the project.
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