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20 Ways To Ruin Your Bike

Posted: 11 May 2020 Tips & Tricks

A green road bicycle, viewed from above.

As bike mechanics, we're often being asked how people can make their bikes run better. (Facetious answer: book them into our workshop.)

However, people don't seem to ask what they should do to completely stuff up their bikes. So we're going to tell you. And, yes, these are all things we have actually witnessed.

1. Oils Is Oils

If you don't have any chain oil, just use whatever you can find. Linseed oil is a great option, with fish oil as a handy back-up. As a bonus, your drivetrain will hardly make any noise because of all the extra gummy padding, and your bike mechanic will love you forever.

Oils Is Oils Pt 2

Refreshing your fork lowers and don't have any of the recommended fluid on hand? Fill 'em with olive oil instead. How much of a problem can it be?

What’s that noise?

Don't worry about replacing your worn brake pads; you'll go faster without them. As a side bonus, disc brakes start to work again once the piston works its way through the backing plate.

A set of bicycle brake pads which have been worn down to the backing plate
This is fine.

A sticky situation

If something during your home mechanics goes wrong, it can be fixed by putting a piece of electrical tape over it.

They’re just speed cracks

Some cracks in carbon are purely structural and designed to increase the frame's integrity. Other cracks actually make you faster. If they're bothering you, though, they too can be fixed with a piece of electrical tape.

Cleaning is for chumps

You don't care that caked-on grime and dirt is going to chew through your groupset in record time; you can dry your eyes with thousand-dollar bills and go and buy some more stuff.

Close-up detail of the rear triangle of a mountain bike frame covered in mud and grime
This is also fine.

I Was Just Riding Along

Drivetrain acting up? You can: a) leave it until you can't change any gears whatsoever, then dump your bike in front of us and say, "Fix it!"; or b) fiddle with the derailleur screws until you can't change any gears whatsoever, then dump your bike in front of us and say, "Fix it!" while denying that you fiddled with it.

WD40: the butter of the bike world

If you want to be proactive and the squealing of your brakes is driving you nuts, just spray the rotors with WD40. No more friction = ah, silent bicycle!


A high-pressure hose will clean your bike extremely well -- inside and out! Make sure you aim it hard at your forks to get water past the seals.

Close-up of a pool of water inside a bicycle frame's bottom bracket shell
I've always wanted an indoor pool

What’s a spoke key?

Are your spokes incredibly tight but you just want to give them a bit of extra 'oomph'? Then you're going to need a bigger set of vice grips!

Really feel the road

Never pump up your tyres. The more pot-holes you hit, the more customised your rims become, which is awesome and impressive. Also, if it's harder to pedal, you burn more calories.

It’s singalong time

Do you hear a rattle, creak, or odd noise? There's an easy fix: turn up your iPhone. If you ignore the noise, it will go away by itself eventually.

Broken headphones that have wrapped themselves around the rear hub of a bicycle
So that's where my earbuds went

The chain’ll fix it

Is your drivetrain worn? Are your cranks cactus? Then just replace the chain...and only the chain. Sure, it won't really work properly, and you'll wear it out in ten seconds because the other components will eat it alive, but it makes economic sense to replace one component a bunch of times than a whole bunch of components at once, doesn't it? (It does; we spoke about economics to a guy at a party once.)

Corrosion is not causation

Rust is merely a natural part of the life cycle of metal, and should be embraced.

A bicycle fork steerer encrusted with rust
Just like a fork steerer, only crunchy

O B Positive

Have you had a spectacular crash and bled all over your bike? Don't worry about cleaning it up! We love handling other people's blood, because it makes us feel like CSI: Bike Mechanic.

We wish we were kidding, but this has happened more than once.

Don’t lick here

Triathletes, did you know that the residue from sports drinks and power gels will give you extra grip if you ever need to cling to the top tube in an emergency? Well, now you do.

OK, maybe lick here

By never, ever replacing your handlebar tape or grips, you will always have a handy salt lick which could save your life if you become marooned in Fox Creek and can't find the winery.

A set of bicycle handlebars with piles of dried-up sweat on them that's turned to salt. Ewwwww!
Mmmm...delicious human sodium!

Sah pretteh

A coloured tyre is far more important than one with grip or durability. Do the other guys in your art collective care if you get five times the mileage out of a black tyre? No, they do not.

What’s the warranty on this?

Brooks saddles are supposed to have character. Waxing removes this character. Do not wax your Brooks. Ever.

A leather Brooks bicycle saddle which has been ruined by neglect
"Please kill me"

Just add water

If you love the distressed French provincial look (and who doesn't?) a similar effect can be achieved by leaving your bike outside in the rain for several months. Voila! You will be the toast of the café set. Très bien!

Yasss queen

If you've been hit by a car, make sure to Instagram your face before calling an ambulance. We're pretty sure it counts as legal evidence.

A handmade card, written by a child, which says 'sorry' and shows an illustration of a bicycle and two children
You're damned right.

What You Say

Just got home now after going the "long way home" and just wanted to let you know the Surly is back to form after the service you did today. The gears are changing without a hitch again, all bearings are running as smooth as silk again, and the wheels are true and tight. So thanks again…Andrew Graham
A custom-built Bossi Summit titanium bicycle, in a colourful graffitied car park
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