One of the bits of advice I received most often from riding friends was to take the time to build a relationship with your bike. Know how it feels when it’s running well so that you can determine when something is off. Even if the repairs are more than you can take on, it will help a mechanic to have a better understanding of what’s going on. I think that is great advice!
Miss Bella’s previous owner was upfront with me about the condition she was in – she needs a windshield and will need tires soon. He also mentioned that he had both the front and back brake pads, but hadn’t yet had time (or garage space) to complete that job. During the pre-sale inspection, my rally partner (RP) noted that the back brakes were down to the metal. He would not let me ride until those pads were replaced. I was anxious to get on and ride, but sure appreciate when friends have my back on safety issues like this.
I was intimated by the idea of changing brake pads myself. On a Saturday morning, RP and I went out to my garage to begin giving Miss Bella some new brakes. I expected the job to take pretty much all day – I mean these are brakes (front AND back!!) that has to take a long time, right? Thankfully no. We started with the front, taking them apart, making sure all the bolts were accounted for and quickly had the new brake pads on the front. Piece of cake! Oh and by “we”, I mean me on the wrench with RP advising nearby. He had to step in with some wrench assistance once in a while and served as the final safety inspector on this job. RP also had the all-important job of running the camera to capture the evidence. Yes, this is me, giving Bella a brake job!
I learned so much by doing this and gained another level of confidence by taking it on. The next time Miss Bella or my next bike needs a brake job, I’ll be right there to tackle it. I also know how brake pads should look (and how they should NOT look) so I can inspect them for wear in the future.
I want to encourage others to learn about their bikes – even if you do not have the skills to take on the repair alone, find a friend to help you. I’m fortunate to have two guys (my rally partner and my boyfriend) who watch out for me and teach me about mechanical stuff.
Look to your fellow riders for assistance – most are thrilled to pitch in with advice, resources or hands on help if they are able. Build a relationship with your bike, and confidence in your skills by taking the time to learn; it’s an investment that pays off!