So, something’s gone wrong with your bike. What can you do to fix it? Sometimes it seems like a bicycle can be horribly complicated. All the chains, gears, brakes and other tiny parts can seem like a mystery. It’s true that you shouldn’t try to fix serious damage all by yourself - it’s better to leave these to a professional mechanic, as you can actually end up making things worse!

However, there are a few simple problems with equally simple solutions : ones that you can probably do yourself without any help! Read on to find out more!

A Grinding Chain

Sometimes, your chain can make a nasty grinding sound when you’re riding along. In the worst cases, this might mean it’s completely worn away, and you might have to replace it. But don’t worry – if you’re lucky, it might not be too late.

It’s actually the buildup of dirt that causes the bike chain to make this awful sound, due to the friction caused : so, you can avoid it by cleaning or lubricating your chain every few weeks. 

Also, try to avoid putting too much strain on your chain by ‘cross-chaining’ – this is cycling in the highest gear both with your cassette (the back cogs) and the chainrings (the front cogs!)

The back cogs here are called a ‘cassette’, and the front one the chainrings.

Problems changing gears

Sometimes, you can also find your chain slipping between gears, or not staying in the gear you need it too. Whereas the last problem, the grinding chain, was caused by not enough lubrication, this one is caused by too much – which may, ironically enough, be attracting grime to the chain and cogs. So, putting too much liquid on you chain to fix a grinding chain can cause other problems!

To fix this annoying issue, you need to reduce the moisture in your chain and cogs. You can do this by wiping up excess lubrication with a rag, or buying a special de-greaser from your local bike mechanic!

Your tyres are rubbing the brake pads

These parts, that stop the wheel moving when you brake, are called brake pads!

Have you just put a new front wheel on your bike, only to find that there’s irritating friction between the wheel and your brake pads – even when you DON’T use the brakes? This might be because you haven’t installed it correctly – but don’t worry, you can fix it easily! 


These are the skewer and the skewer springs – they keep the wheel secured to the frame. Make sure that, when you put the wheel back on, this is fastened securely and in the correct position, and the springs are both still there and the right way around! If they’re not there or backwards, they can cause the wheel to go out of place!

You also don’t actually have to take the skewer off completely to remove the wheel : this makes it less likely that the springs will go missing!


So, are you a skilled bike mechanic now? Do the exercises below to find out!

Comprehension questions

Answer True or False or Not Given based on the information in the article

  1. The back cogs on the bike are called a ‘cassette’. (True)
  2. The front cogs on a bike are called a ‘cassette’. (False, chainrings)
  3. The grinding noise in a chain is called by buildup of rust. (false, dirt)
  4. ‘Cross-chaining’ is riding with the highest setting on the cassette, and the lowest setting on the chainrings. (False, highest on both)
  5. Slipping in gears is caused by too much lubrication. (True)
  6. You have to completely remove a skewer to take a bike’s wheel off. (False)
  1. True
  2. False (chainrings)
  3. False (dirt)
  4. False (highest on both)
  5. True
  6. False


Match the bold words in the article to the definitions below

  1. Dirt 
  2. When something increases in amount over time (noun) 
  3. A piece of cloth (noun) 
  4. To make it so something will not move around (verb) 
  5. Things rubbing together (noun)
  6. Moisture that allows parts to move together 
  7. To put a part in the right place (verb) 
  8. Facing the wrong way (adjective) 
  9. When something is forced to stretch too much (noun) 
  10. More than you need (adjective) 
  11. To check something is definitely done (verb phrase) 
  12. To be lost (verb phrase) 
  1. grime
  2. buildup
  3. rag
  4. fasten
  5. friction
  6. lubrication
  7. install
  8. backwards
  9. strain
  10. excess
  11. make sure
  12. go missing