Flossing the cogs, limit screws, and drive trains, oh my!

An inside look at the Basic Bike Maintenance class

By Melinda Musser, Communications & Marketing Manager

Before joining the Community Cycling Center, my bike maintenance skills were limited. I knew the importance of keeping my tires full of air, my chain clean and lubed, and I could do some minor brake adjustments, but for the most part, the functionality of my bicycle remained a magical mystery.

Over the last 2 years, my knowledge gradually improved. I learned how to fix a flat tire by volunteering at a Create a Commuter workshop. Patrick taught us how to clean rims and brake pads via his amazing Shop Tips. A Bike Club instructor demonstrated the importance of pre-ride bike safety checks, and a mechanic showed me how to put a new chain on my bicycle.

This weekend, over the course of 5 hours, my bike maintenance knowledge increased exponentially by participating in part two of our Basic Bike Maintenance class. Five hours may seem like a long time for one day, but the class flew by quickly, due to the hands-on nature of the course.

Jim, our instructor, demonstrated a skill, then we returned to our own bikes to practice, under the skilled guidance of Sherman, a friendly and knowledgeable volunteer mechanic (side note: Sherman used to own Coventry Cycle on Hawthorne). I learned so much in such a short time frame, including cool tips on how to properly clean my drive train; the importance of lubing derailleurs, brakes, and chains; and how to set up and align derailleurs through limit screws and barrel adjustors. Before this class, I found derailleurs to be an intimidating conglomeration of moving parts. During the class, Jim and Sherman demystified derailleurs and by the end, I successfully adjusted my rear derailleur and fixed the issue I was having with my lowest gear.

It feels great to be a self-sufficient cyclist, and I hope I can make my bicycle run smoothly in the future. I am already looking forward to the day when I can clean my cassette again by “flossing the cogs.”

If you are interested in taking a bike maintenance class, check out our class page for more details. There are a couple of different options: you can take the 10-hour course over a series of 5 workshops in 2-hour increments, or 2 workshops in 5-hour increments. We’ll add more classes to the page in the future, so check back again later this year.

Connect with Us

Hours: Open Wednesday-Friday 11AM-7PM & Saturday/Sunday 12PM-5PM. Closed Monday & TuesdayBike Shop Address: 1700 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211

Phone: 503.287.8786