Liz Bernier is the Bike Coordinator at the UCLA Bike Shop in the John Wooden Center. The UCLA Bike Shop offers all types of courses on bike maintenance, including how to build your own bike wheel. Go to UCLA Recreation’s website for upcoming workshops.
Air Pump: We suggest using an air pump to inflate your tires at least once every week or two. Maintaining the proper air-pressure in your tires helps protect your rims from getting damaged when you hit potholes and bumps. In addition, it makes your ride easier because well-inflated tires don't generate as much rolling resistance as under-inflated tires do. You can usually find the maximum recommended-pressure for your tire on its sidewall. Wide tires generally get inflated to between 40 and 60 psi (pound-force per square inch) while narrow tires often hold from 80 to 110 psi. To be on the safe side, we recommend keeping the tire pressure at least 10 psi below the recommended maximum. Over-inflating your tires can, in extreme cases, force the tire off the rim and cause a blowout.
Phillips/Flat-Head Screwdriver: Screwdrivers are great for installing accessories, like lights, reflectors, and bells, and adjusting components, like derailleurs and brakes. You can use them to center your brakes by turning the screws that control the brake springs; remember to make small adjustments, activate the brake between adjustments, and take a test ride to make sure your work is effective. If your brake levers and shifters are secured with Phillips/flat-head fasteners, you can use a screwdriver to tighten or reposition them. Limit screws on your derailleurs can also be adjusted using a screwdriver. If your rear derailleur gets bent in a minor fall to the point where it hits your wheel spokes as you ride, you can do a temporary repair by tightening the lower limit to compensate for the bend. Similarly, using a screwdriver to fine-tune the limits on your front derailleur can prevent you from dropping your chain when upshifting and downshifting.
15/32mm Combination Wrench: The 15mm side of this wrench can be used to tighten bolt-on wheels secured with 15mm nuts andpedals that have 15mm flats on them. Remember that pedals are usually reverse-threaded on the side of the bike without the chain. Reverse-threaded parts tighten when turned to the left and loosen when turned to the right which is opposite of the way we adjust parts with the more-common, right-hand ("righty tighty, lefty loosey") threading. The larger side of this combination wrench is handy for adjusting threaded headsets. One indication of a loose headset is rocking or play in the front of your bike which can be felt particularly when braking.
8/9/10/11mm Combination Wrenches: These wrenches help with a variety of repairs, from brake and shift adjustments to mounting cargo racks and pedal cages. Fixing bolts for shift and brake cables, as well as brake calipers, brake bridges, and front derailleurs, are often secured using 8/9/10/11mm wrenches. Remember to tighten all parts of your brake and shift systems well, so they don't slip when you're riding. Before your test ride, you can evaluate your adjustments while your bike is in the repair stand by pulling your brake levers firmly all the way to the handlebar and shifting through your gears while hand pedaling.
Tire Levers: Tire levers can be useful when fixing a flat tire. Some tires are loose enough that you can remove them easily from the wheel without tools. With other tires, you may want to slip a tire lever under one side of your tire between the tire bead and inner tube. You can then push the tire down onto the lever to help get it over the rim wall. We recommend using your hands to remove the tire the rest of the way instead of sliding the tire lever along the rim wall; this motion can peel the rubber away from the metal bead inside the tire and lead to sidewall failure.
Torx Wrench: This wrench is used most commonly to tighten the bolts that secure disc-brake rotors to wheel hubs. Remember to tighten the bolts in a star-like pattern by tightening one bolt, then tightening the bolt across from it instead of the one adjacent to it. Continue this sequence until you've hit all the bolts, then recheck them all. Be careful not to over-tighten these bolts.
Allen Wrenches: These wrenches can be used for various repairs. Crank bolts are often tightened using the 8mm wrench. Securing your crank bolts periodically, especially after they've been reinstalled or newly installed, can save you from stripping a crank arm which can be an expensive, involved repair. The smaller allen-wrenches are helpful when securing and adjusting many components, including brake levers, shifters, derailleurs, brake cables, shift cables, brake calipers, derailleur pulleys, saddles, stems, and handlebars.