How do you get the bike knowledge?

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  • How do you get the bike knowledge?
  • stavaigan

    Have an old HT i’d like to upgrade but dont know where to start in terms of components to buy and how to fit. How, for example, does one know what rear mech to buy in terms of right size/type for the bike/other components and in terms of what quality I might want? What is the best way to develop that sort of knowledge?


    Best way to learn maintenance skills is to just start doing your own maintenance. Bikes ain’t that complicated – a few cogs, cables, bearings – that’s about all there is to them.



    A mountain bike maintenance course ?

    Premier Icon ampthill

    Is it ride able? If it is then ride it. Then replacethe bit that work least well.

    This is my guide to Shimano. Other people will have their own version of this….

    Alivio, Acera. Work but a bit cheap and a pain the get running well

    Deore. Works just fine

    SLX XT etc. works a bit better weighs a bit less…….

    What bike is it? Can you post a photo?


    Decide what bits you want to upgrade first, you may find the cost of new forks, brakes, wheels etc is as much as a more current new HT.

    As for knowledge, read the mags, the forum and talk bikes with your biking mates.


    start by wearing out / breaking things and replace accordingly

    Premier Icon crazy-legs

    What’s the bike you’ve got? How old and in what condition?

    Depends on the bike really – you may find that it’s simply not worth spending much on it anyway if it’s really old or cheap.

    The “best” upgrade is usually regarded as being a good lightweight set of handbuilt wheels followed by new suspension forks, they’re the two things that will make the biggest difference to the ride.

    As to how you find this stuff out… bike maintenance course, the Park Tools website is good for video tutorials of “how to…”, go to a library and borrow a bike maintenance book or just talk to your friendly local bike shop.

    Premier Icon Stoner

    start here:

    read everything he’s written, and then start tinkering.

    RIP Mr B.


    you get to know about maintenance by doing it, park tools website is a great starting point, my one tip would be to get a cheap workstand, it transformed my attitude to fixing stuff.

    Learn about what to replace with by talking to people in shops, on here, other forums, read mags, visit websites, read reviews thats how I do it


    Wheel it down to your lbs and have a chat with them, when you decide what you want, order it from them.


    Mountainbike mechanics are pretty simple.
    With your bike in front of you and the internet to hand you should be able to work out anything.
    Rear mechs for example will be 5/6/7/8/9 speed and are replaced like for like. Same applies to chains, cassettes, shifters and front mechs.
    Bottom brackets are usually labeled with the size, you’ll need to learn the differences between square taper, Octalink ISIS etc. Bottom brackets are one of the few things that need specific tools as well.
    Bars, stems and headsets come in two sizes 1″ ans 1 1/8″ threaded and Ahead, and bars in satandard? and OS oversize.
    For things like forks you really need to see what travel your bike was designed for, a 100mm fork on a frame that took 63mm will be terrible.
    It’s all there for you.
    For older bikes getting cabling right makes a great difference, as does recognising wear and dealing with it.

    The guys/girls here on STW have provided me with invaluable advice. I’m now on my 3rd and 4th full builds and tbh I like the techy aspect of cycling just as much as cycling itself!

    I can pretty much guarantee that if you get stuck on something, someone else has been stuck on the same issue and asked about it.


    How do you get the bike knowledge?

    BikeRadar & STW forums have loads of info, and some damn stupid questions/answers too!

    Oh and the best site is ParkTools, which has all the tech info you’ll need.


    After you’ve tried park tools and sheldon brown use google. There is a wealth of information out there. Plenty of video instructions too.

    Take it slow when you first start. It’s normally best to have the right tools rather than bodge. The shimano website has a huge amount of information and technical documents to make sure you know what you have and are getting. Exploded diagrams of components based on part numbers.

    It’s not that hard. Changing bits over is normally just a case of looking up the right component and buying it then unscrewing the old one and screwing on a new one.

    This forum will provide you with an answer if you get really stuck.


    Mountainbike mechanics are pretty simple

    The ones I’ve met are ! 😛

    Sorry, couldn’t resist


    Park Tool website + a lot of trial and error. I always used to do my own bmx repairs having learned from friends, a lot of that was transferable to mtb, it’s just bloody gears I still have trouble with!

    Go to a friendly bike shop. Explain that if you order through them to do a self build you’d like to be able to ask them technical advice and maybe get them to fit the odd part eg headset. Buy a complete tool kit if you can. The park book and website are good guides as is shedon

    So you will learn and build a useful relationship with your bike shop that is worth the premium you will pay by ordering through the shop.


    Many thanks for your responses. oldgit kind of exeplifies where I want to get to. For the record, and from what I can still make out, my HT is an Orange Evo2- manitou magnum forks; orange supercross 2 bars, Avid AD3? brakes, WTB speed masters wheels, deore hubs, ritchey scuzzy logic headset. Upgrade suggestions welcome. Appreciate probably wont be worth the cost but its about the learning as much as the cost.


    Go into a bike shop….spend a couple of hours getting them to explain everything to you in minute detail,then complain that they are too expensive and buy all the components off the internet 😐


    It’s a lot to do with confidence too. Plenty of people put off by something that looks complicated but is actually really easy.

    The first time you do something will be the hardest as it will take you 3hrs to figure out what the easy way is and then it will take you 5 miutes.

    Maybe worth getting an old BSO for £20 and taking it completely apart and then seeing if you can get it back together again? Any local friends any good? Have a look and see what the inside of a headset/hub/BB looks like before you practice on your own shiney/expensive one.

    Far more pleasent experience doing it on a clean bike too.


    Same as what my old man said to me when I bought my first car.Buy a manual & learn to do it yourself,you’ll soon pick it up…..unless you take after yer mother…..

    I’m still trying to work out what the bike knowledge is and I’m fixing them for a living at the moment! 😯

    Your Evo 2 frame is a great place to start. It was what I got into mtb from.

    Forks will be old elastomer manitou which will be terrible. It is designed for 80mm travel and you will struggle to find bargain 80mm forks that are worth having.

    I have mine set up with 420mm rigid carbon forks from ( or similar)

    Replace the drive train as it wears out and the contact points as you understand what you need and you will have a very nice ride…



    I’ve just used this, as it’s 4 years since i last did one, very useful resource.

    Your user name brings back a lot of memories for me. I used to work in a bar in Glasgow called Stravaigan about 10 years ago.

    +1 for the Park tool website.


    I learnt from a very young age on my old and simple bikes. Other than that used my Dad, local bike shop at the time, Haynes manual and then in later years my uni mates and here

    It’s just not as hard as it may seem.

    I taught myself at around 12-13yrs old – my parents were skint, so I saved up and bought myself a Raleigh Bomber ‘Super’, then a Raleigh Pulsar road bike.

    I tinkered and I read books about them – I looked on in awe as my old man (step dad) bought a Muddy Fox Courier and his mate had some ‘fancy’ Dawes ‘proper’ mountain bike.

    At that age I’d probably have avoided most things with bearings and spokes, but I was learning – some pals couldn’t even sort a flat tyre.

    I still wouldn’t know where to start building a wheel and servicing forks remains the domain of the experts – I suppose the rest of it is quite simple to me, but to that extent shouldn’t really be outside the comfort zone of anyone given a bit of practice and research.

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