by Learning Lead – Kristen Tymoshuk

Hey everyone! Welcome back to my journey to learn how to fix bicycles. When we left off in blog one, we had just finished assessing the repairs that needed to be done to my bike. To start the repair process, this blog is all about general bike maintenance for the body, the tires, and the pedals.

Bike terminology

To start off, I spent a lot of time watching Youtube videos on how to fix bikes, then realized I knew very little about the actual names of bike parts. So I found this diagram that I think will help everyone become more situated with bike terminology:

Photo from Wikimedia.

Cleaning the body:

Through my research it became very clear to me; a happy bike is a clean bike. Since I left my bike outside for two years, it was neither clean nor happy. So the first thing I did was wash off the muck and degrease the mechanical parts. I sprayed my chain rings, front and rear derailleur, and cogset (check diagram for location!) with a bike degreaser, waited a few minutes for the grease to loosen, then used a rag and a brush to scrub the muck off. It took a few passes with the brush, but once I was satisfied, I rinsed the whole bike in a mixture of water and bike cleaner, using another rag to clean off the excess dirt in other places, like the tubes and stays.


So, the tires were flat. Pumping tires is actually really easy; most tire pumps have the ability to pump both Schraeder and Presta tire valves, which are the two most common types of valves. Most mountain or hybrid bikes have Schraeder valves (like mine), as they are a bit wider than Presta valves, and can fit on the wider mountain bike tire. Whereas most road bikes have Presta valves, because road bike tires are narrower and require a narrower valve to fit the rim. 

Photo by Kristen Tymoshuk.

Due to the fact that mountain and hybrid bike tires are designed for more intense riding over uneven terrain, the ideal pressure for these tires is around 40-70 PSI. To put that in perspective, road bike tires often have pressure exceeding 125 PSI.

My bike unfortunately had about 5 PSI in each tire. Yikes. I decided to pump the tires to around 60 PSI. It was super simple to screw off the top of the valve protector and attach the nozzle to the tire valve.

Photo by Kristen Tymoshuk.

 My bike pump has a lever that you push down to open the valve and keep the nozzle in place while you pump air in the tire.  It also has a gauge along the bottom of the pump to see what the current pressure is in the tire.

Photo by Kristen Tymoshuk.


I also had to change the pedals, as one of them broke off two years ago (as I was in the middle of an intersection, trying to make a left turn. Not good). Very kindly, my friend donated new pedals to the bike. These ones are made of metal, so the chances of one of them breaking off is much slimmer than the old plastic ones! I was easily able to remove the non-broken pedal using a little adjustable wrench and a lot of arm, but the other one was stuck on good. No amount of arm could get it off. So I took the bike to Bike Again, a volunteer-run DIY bike workshop of the Halifax Ecology Action Centre, to borrow a special pedal wrench to get the pedal off.

Photo sourced from Mountain Equipment Company.

Removing a pedal is super easy, you just have to follow the thumb rule. To remove the right pedal put your right hand out beside the pedal, with the thumb pointing away from the bike. The direction your hand curls is the direction you should be turning the wrench. Same with the left side; put your left hand beside the pedal with your thumb facing out, and the direction your fingers curl will be the direction you turn the wrench. Once the pedals were removed, I found the threading had a bit of rust that was making it hard to put in the new pedals. I sprayed each of the pedal holes with WD-40 to loosen up the rust, then wiped them clean with a rag. Putting in new pedals is also super easy. Both pedals should be labeled left and right (check the flat end of the threading for an L or R ; it’s super important to make sure you put the correct pedal on each side, as both pedals have different threading angles. 

Photo by Kristen Tymoshuk.

To put in the right pedal, use the same thumb rule, except your right thumb is facing in towards the bike, so your fingers curl in the opposite direction, meaning you turn the pedal the other way to twist it in. Repeat the same steps for the left side using your left hand. Another important thing to remember is to grease the pedal threads before you put them in. The grease prevents the connections from rusting, increasing the longevity of the pedals, and making it easier to remove the pedals in the future.

Thank you so much for reading my blog! I hope this inspired you to give your bike a little bath if it’s dirty. Remember; a happy bike is a clean bike! If you want to see more incredible learning journeys, consider joining the Waterlution community and reading more awesome blogs from the Learning Leads!