Do-it-yourself: the pitfalls | Technology on the saddle – Selle Italia
Do-it-yourself: the pitfalls

Do-it-yourself: the pitfalls


Knowing roughly how a bicycle works does not automatically make us good mechanics. If we do not know exactly what we are doing, even simple repair jobs can wreak havoc on the bike parts. So, if you are in any doubt at all, go to a “specialist”.


If our beloved two-wheeler is to stay up to scratch, we must make sure it undergoes regular maintenance. But it has to be done properly. There is nothing complicated about the workings of a bike, and, theoretically, there is no reason why anyone who is good with their hands, or reasonably skilled, should not be able to carry out routine repairs or adjustments.

Theoretically, we said. Because in actual fact many people just monkey around with the bike, using a trial-and-error method without the faintest idea of what they are doing. This only serves to make things worse than before, at which stage it becomes necessary to call in a proper mechanic.

So before you roll up your sleeves and delve into the tool box in search of a screw driver and monkey wrench, take note of these few simple rules that everyone should bear in mind.


Recognise your limits

As we said before, being a mechanic is a real job. It is one thing to tighten up the brake cables, but quite another to take the entire bottom bracket apart. In between these two extremes there are countless other seemingly simple situations which could easily degenerate and even cause damage to the bicycle parts unless they are handled with the greatest care. Mechanical work requires a specific skill set and “surgical” precision. If you are not up to it, don’t moan about creaking gears grating on your nerves afterwards.


The right tools

As they say, for want of a nail the bike was lost. Or was it the horse? Anyhow, if your head is screwed on right, you will choose your tools well. If you need to loosen a bolt, you’ll want the right spanner; if you have to fasten a nut to a precise degree, you must have a torque wrench. And the list goes on. There can be no guesswork and it would be a huge mistake to use the wrong tools. Too big a wrench or too small a screwdriver could permanently ruin nuts and bolts.

Some repair jobs call for highly specific instruments, such as a bottom-bracket wrench. If you don’t have one, don’t bother trying.


The right way round

This might seem obvious, but you have no idea how many good cyclists wallow in ignorance…

The cranks (and therefore the pedals too) are opposite threaded. What does that mean? That the right-hand pedal cannot be mounted on the left-hand crank and vice versa. The former (marked with an R) needs to be fastened clockwise like an ordinary screw, whilst the latter (marked with an L) should be tightened in an anticlockwise direction. Using a 15-mm spanner – and there is nothing approximate about the size… Once a friend of ours complained that his right-hand pedal was “jammed” and he couldn’t get it to move. Guess which direction he tried to unscrew it in…


Lubed, not slathered

We will cut to the chase here: chain, sprockets and inner workings must be lubed, but not slathered with oil or even “greased” – an expression often bandied around. Only special “dry” products must be used, such as Teflon- or silicon-based lubricant sprays which do not merge with the dust to create a cloggy lumpy mass which will then have be degunked.


Easy on the saddle

Putting the saddle on is simple enough. You just need an Allen wrench. But you shouldn’t try it on your own. Why not? Just for starters, the first time it is mounted a biomechanical analysis should be carried out in order to identify the right position. Then, for each subsequent replacement, the BRP – Biomechanical Reference Point – of the old saddle can be used to reposition it in the same place.

In any case, specialist dealers have scientific instruments like the idmatch setup system and can quickly and accurately reposition the saddle any time you need.

… And are you sure you know as much as you should about tightening the saddle clamp? If you don’t know the exact tightening torque, there is a definite danger of buckling the saddle rail.


Cleat: a small but important detail

When you buy a new pair of cycling shoes, how fussy are you about attaching the cleats to the sole? Not very? That is not good… It is not enough to fasten them roughly in the middle: The axis of the pedal must be aligned with the centre point of the ball of the foot.

One scientifically valid and highly accurate instrument is idmatchCleatFit; by measuring the inside of the shoe, it allows for the cleat to be adjusted to match exactly the centreline of the foot, which ensures the best possible resting position and avoids any awkward pedalling strokes.




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