First time maintenance! (NOOB ALERT)


New Member
I never really look after my bikes, but as my current bike has been shelved for well over a year and it's got all kinds of glitches on it at the minute that are getting too hard to bear I've decided to give it a good going over.

My chain definatley needs a good clean and re-greasing. Is there any particular thing I should be looking for in a grease, are any better than others or any worth avoiding? does money matter in this case?

Secondly my front brake isn't as stiff as I'd like, combined with my back I can pretty much stop as and when I please but on it's own it's very slow stopping. I've tried to tighten the brake cable which helps, however the cable is becoming a little bit frayed. Is there anything else I should be looking for as well as tightening the break cable?

Also the left side of the break cable keeps touching the wheel, All I need to do is knock the bracket to the left and it's fine but then randomly it moves back against the wheel and soemtimes rectifies itself. But it takes a fair bit of slogging and thinking "this is alot harder then it should be" for me to look down and give it a tweak, usually while on the move.

Finally my gears are very clunky, I'd suspect my greasing everything to the max this will help a lot but is there anything else I should be looking for as well.

So in summary it's

1. Chain and grease
2. Breaks
3. Gears

that need sorting and any kind of advice would be good. I'm going down to Halfords tomorrow after work and I'll buy some grease and some other stuff I need so to stop be looking a total idiot or getting ripped off any advice would be welcome



Well-Known Member
Hi Jon

A couple of quick ideas

1/ Chain - I myself just use cheap bicycle oil from Halfords, as my bikes are not very high spec' I don't worry over the exact stuff to use. If my chain or cogs wear out it's not too dear to replace. Do a serch on the forum for 'the mickle method' of chain cleaning, basically rub the chain with a rag, slowly rotating the cranks to run the chain through the rag (watch your fingers!) rubbing it down as it goes, then oil the chain whilst turning the cranks, then rub it down again, this should just leave oil inside the chain links where it is needed.

2/ Brakes, does the sticky brake block have an uneven surface with a step on the lower edge, if it hits the rim wrong then the bottom portion wont wear away as quick leaving a step shape, this protruding bit then sticks under the rim and stops it returning properly. Depending how bad it is it may need replacing. I always struggle setting brakes up though, just when I think I can do it, i get stumped the next time.

3/ gears, may be the gear cable sticking a bit? you may need to adjust the cable tension, others on here can explain better than me. try print it out to take out to the bike with you and see if you can figure it out. Might be worth thinking about replacing the cable.


Started young, and still going.
Hi there, Chain--I use white spirit and a chain cleaner, if you haven't got one, an old toothbrush and lots of rag will do, it does get a bit messy. Do not use grease to lube the chain but proper chain oil, Finish line, or a light oil like sewing machine oil will do.

Brakes--Sounds like the front caliper needs centreing. move the bolt that holds the caliper on so that the caliper is central and check for movement. you may need to lube the cables, so check that they are moving freely and not sticking. If the cables are fraying it should be replaced


New Member
Cheers guys

I was going to use oil but my dad was adament that it will just spray off quickly. It makes sense grease does seem more robust but is it the case of just constantly keeping it oiled up or is it not too much of a problem?

I think it is the caliper (so noobish I didn't even remember the name :biggrin: ) I'll have a fiddle with it but between myself and my dad we couldn't get it to stay in the right place.

In general has anyone found the guys at halfords to be helpful? I've been in a few times and got a pretty mundane service but I'm guessing I wasn't the most helpful customer given i didnt have a clue what I was talking about :smile:


Legendary Member
Halfords is hit and miss - sometimes you get a good one and sometimes not. You'd do much better to cultivate a relationship with a proper local bike shop.
worldtourjon said:
I was going to use oil but my dad was adament that it will just spray off quickly. It makes sense grease does seem more robust but is it the case of just constantly keeping it oiled up or is it not too much of a problem?
Main reasons for not using grease are

1: that it picks up all the dirt that it comes into contact with, which will then clog up everything.

2: it is too thick to run into all the rollers and keep the actual moving parts properly lubricated.
It sounds to me as though you need to find some local bike maintenance classes. They are getting quite popular these days, so I'd ask at the library, or start searching t'internet. You will soon pick up the skills you need and begin to save money and experience the satisfaction of keeping your bike in good condition.


New Member
Well I managed to spend an hour or so last night cleaning the bike, the chain runs a lot smoother when pedaling which is a big improvement, however changing gears is about 10 times as bad as it was before, its just horrendously clunky. I assume this is because there isn't enough oil on the gears and chain so I'll try it again later tonight when I get back. Is there anything else this could be?

Cheers for the book advice I'll look into it, and cycle maintanence classes sound a must if I'm going to do my cycle tour!
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