BMX is very much a ‘DIY’ activity. In this post I will try to shine a bit of light on some of the tech issues or maintenance problems we experience as riders. Let’s count ’em down…
NB. Updated Feb 2019
Issue: The ‘clicking’ of your cassette hub is quieter, it makes a low mushy grinding noise or feels like you have ‘grit in your teeth’.
Cause: Packing the cassette hub driver-compartment with too much grease is never a good idea. Lightly lubricating it is preferable. Too much grease clogs the pawls and springs (also attracts dirt) causing them to stick to the driver body and not engage fully. This makes it dangerous to pedal.
Remedy: You paid good money for your cassette hub, so look after it! Your cassette is the most intricate part on your bike, that’s why it only makes good sense to take proper care of it. Extract the driver, clean it thoroughly and add a very light grease/lubricant to the seal and some to the internals. In essence, the mechanism in itself does not need to be lubricated.
Do not use oil like Q20 or WD40 to lubricate your hub.
Feel it in your feet.
Issue: Sore feet after or during a session. Bruised ankles and sometimes (as in my case,) broken toes.
Cause: Your shoes may need replacing- (or just new insoles may do the trick). Everyone has a preferred shoe type that they like to look fly in, but the sole is just as, if not more important than a good quality upper. Riding with soft or worn soles is a bad idea.
Remedy: Noticed how much you use your feet? Take care of them, insert them into quality footwear that will protect them as well as keep you comfortable.
Idea: You can buy decent insoles from Dischem or Clicks.
Pssssst!! No inflation, only deflation!
Issue: No matter what you do, your tube keeps going flat or you keep getting punctures.
Cause: You are not using a rim strip or your tyre is old, worn and/or thin. Could also be that you are using a bad quality tube…
Remedy: The obvious thing is to patch the tube or replace it. Using the correct tube size may also fix your issue. Some BMX companies now make 2.4″ tubes, if you are using the newer tyre sizes 2.35″ and bigger, a good idea would be to get tubes designed to work with the bigger tyre sizes.
Finding the root of the problem could save you a couple o’ gray hairs and a few missed sessions. Check that your rim strip is covering all the sharp bits on the inside of your rim. Feel around the inside of the rim where the tyre bead sits. Use a cloth or ball of paper to rub out the inside of the tyre. You may have something sharp stuck the tire that only pokes through once you are a few blocks down the road…
Bonus tip. It never hurts to be safe. Buy a roll of electrical insulation tape, cover the entire inside of the rim with 1 or 2 layers, then add your rim strip.
Laziness… it’ll cost ya.
Issue: Rusty bike, rusty or greasy chain…
Cause: You probably wash your bike (or not at all!) with soap and water.
Remedy: Take better care of your bike. Clean it with a damp/wet rag if it’s really dirty – but rather don’t let it get to that point. A dry, clean rag and a tooth brush works for everyday gunk. Use a bike cleaner such as XtremeGreen-that shit works wonders! A wire brush and some elbow grease on the chain will have it looking fresh again in no time.
Bonus tip: Do not use cooking oil or Vaseline on your chain. I’ve never seen a good result with these substances and all you end up with is gritty gunk, believe it!
“Pop-corn in my BB”. A popping or grinding sound from the Bottom Bracket.
Issue: You just bought new BB bearings, now a few weeks later they are creaking/making popping noises.
Cause: It’s likely that you used a steel hammer or something metal to fit the bearings into your frame (or get them out). Never, ever use a steel instrument on bearings! The harsh impact of steel on steel causes the ball bearings to shatter inside the casing.
Remedy: A wooden or plastic mallet is the best solution. If you don’t have either, a block of wood against the bearing works just as well.
“It’s that grinding teeth sound”… The creaking Headset.
Issue: Your headset pops, makes a dry noise or creaks under pressure.
Cause: Your frame facings and/or bearing cups may be dirty. You may even have a cracked bearing, worn headset parts or missing headset pieces.
Remedy: Your frame facings or bearing cups need to be cleaned and re-greased. Check your bearings for cracks. You may have too many headset spacers. In the worst case scenario, your fork steerer may be bent or your frame’s head-tube may have become ovalised. More on headset installation…. here.
Chain drag… its a terrible thing.
Issue: You bought a brand new chain, fitted it and now it makes a lousy noise when you pedal.
Cause: Your sprocket or cassette teeth are worn (shark-fin shaped), or you may have fitted the chain upside down.
Remedy: Not much you can do here other than replace the sprocket/cassette driver. You can ‘pedal it in’ till the sprocket stops making the noise, but it is risky business as you run the risk of ruining your new chain. I have heard of some filing the tips of the sprocket/cassette driver teeth so that they don’t catch on the chain anymore, but I wouldn’t get into all that…
Issue: Your brake cable frays after it has been cut.
Cause: Incorrect tools have been used or your side cutters/cable cutter is blunt.
Remedy: Purchase a decent cutting tool or simply visit your local bike shop and get them to fit it for you. Don’t forget to add one of those cable nipples to the end of your cable, a spoke nipple works just as well. Crimp that nipple to the cable with a side cutters.
Hey Gramps! Lower back pain?
Issue: It happens to the best of us, some have spent money on expensive doctors to trying to figure out what the cause is. Some have even given up BMX all together because the pain is unbearable.
Cause: In my experience it’s usually the bike setup that plays a major role. For some it could just be growing pains that you will eventually grow out of but it IS also possible that your frame is too short or, in most cases, that your bars are too low.
Remedy: Experiment with your bike setup. There is no set formula but you may find small changes here and there can help. In cases of unexplained lower back pain I would suggest testing a bigger pair of handle bars or longer/ shorter stem for a couple of sessions. I cannot recall a time that this has not either helped or actually sorted the problem out altogether. It’s hard to believe that such a minor thing could have an impact to something so serious. Ask Ruben Alcantara, he knows all to well about back pain. Obviously if its not going away; consult your local Sangoma for advice.
Megatron what what?
Issue: You hear ‘boof boof boof eeeeiaaa-a-a-a bwaahhwwaawaa” coming from your ear phones…
Cause: Someone probably sabotaged your Ipod with music left behind by those Transformer things. Little do you know…… it’s killing you… s l o w l y….. ——————————–
Remedy: Replacing your earphones may eliminate the danger, but it most likely has more to do with your choice of music.
Press delete next time you find yourself wanting to sync with anything marked ‘dubstep’.
Have any questions, insight or something to add? Holla in the comments below.
12 responses to “Common tech issues and maintenance tips”
ISSUE:your bike rattles worse than a old lady with hip displatia and a rusty walker.
CAUSE: your parents are cheapskates and bought you a raleigh burner.
Nice one hank
Awesome post. Thanks alot
Always make sure you have the right headset bearings. They must be 45* bearigns. If you use MTB bearings of 36* then they’ll die pretty quick and give you that horrible clicking noise when turning the bars.
Big/high bars are def the best for back pain but Ruben’s pain came partially for the way the chewed his food. It’s in the Dig 90th interview.
Great artical though. Too many people don’t know how to keep their rig running.
Thanks for the insight, really useful. I never even considered the shoe thing. Good work.
I like the last one, and take your headphones out when sessioning with a crew! Whats the point of riding with your friends if you can’t even shoot the shit with them?
Also, some people must learn the difference between lube and grease, your bike(and possibly lady friend) will be very glad.
This is a very informative article..
Working with bikes daily one tends to release that its the small details that makes the difference..
When it Comes to bmx ii do not know anyone who knows more than Hank aka. BmxDirect
on a visit to him he even changed or shall i rather say improved my setup by just setting it up correctly…
Thanks for this article…
Oh guys if you do not know something, ask someone who does… it will save you money and your bike
when someone says: “aaah but i cant do it..” tel them to put their bike down and pick up a scooter because they are a panzy for not even trying it!! haha
i recently took apart my rear hubs to clean the sprocket and bearings aflter i cleaned it i relized i didnt have any grease and i was missing two bearings so i decided to put it back together any ways with some bag balm. at this point i didnt care how much this f*** up my bike i just wanted to ride so i put it together and i instantly heard the terrible grinding sound when i pedaled and knew that couldnt be good.
what should i do
Hey, could you guys make a page about why my front hub is making a loud pinging sound? I use a loose bearing front hub, as sealed are expensive ( but I am saving for a Cinema FX hub right here!) and there is a loud pinging noise in my hub every 5 seconds, and I can feel it in my bars when it happens. Please give me your best advice. You guys rock!!
By the way, don’t think I am a beginner, I have landed a 360 manual 180, and my parents are sceptical about expensive parts
Definitely sounds like you need an upgrade. Its likely that one of the looseballs in your hub is cracked/pitted. Or the bearing cup is cracked. You’ll need to get a new one eventually, keep saving up!
Hey, do you guys ever throw BMX jams? I think you would get a lot of people 😉 If so, when is the next one?