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How do I learn the basics of bike repair and maintenance?

When will REI start to offer in-store classes for bike repair/maintenance? I live in NYC and am interested in learning the basics. 


9 Replies

@jloparco Thanks for reaching out!

At this time we do not have a definitive timeline for when we will begin hosting in-store classes again. Your best bet is to keep your eye on your local REI store page for updates. In the meantime, our Intro to BIke Maintenance class been set up as a recorded online class that you can enjoy any time! Additionally, we encourage you to check out all of our Cycling Care and Repair Articles for lots of great info about how to get started with bike maintenance.

Hopefully this helps, thanks!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

That's great info, thanks! I will take a look at the recorded past classes online. 


When your local REI does again offer in-store bike repair/maintenance classes, I highly recommend you take them. If you are an REI member, you will receive a discount on the cost. In addition to learning about bike maintenance in general, you will learn more about the specifics of your bike as you put it up on the stand and work on it. The classes are also a great way to get to know your local REI bike techs as well as other cyclists.

Once you take the REI classes, look for a Park Tool Bike Class at a bike shop in your area. It is longer, more extensive, and overall costs more than the REI classes (but less for the total number of classes) and will really ramp up your repair skills and teach you about your bike.

aka "Boonerelli"

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Awesome info, John! Thanks for the recommendation.


Get an old bike and repair it.  You can find all the information on line if you search around.  There are probably books that cover soup to nuts if you want a more thorough introduction.  I recently repaired two bikes replacing inner tubes, cleaning and adjusting the brakes, chain, shifters and replacing a three piece bottom bracket bearing with a new cartridge...the latter a job I had not done before.  I considered replacing the chain on one bike but took a see how it goes approach because I'm a cheapskate. 

Bike hardware is generally fairly standard to a particular era and style of bike.  For some jobs you need or at least it is helpful to have a specialized tool that goes with that era...I had to get a crank remover and cup wrench to replace that bottom bracket...but generally you can get away with a few screwdrivers, an adjustable wrench, hex keys and perhaps a couple of tire "irons".   A chain removal tool can be useful once you go beyond adjusting the brake and changer cables. 


Not to say that a course wouldn't do you some good, but if you are already proficient with tools you might appreciate Lennard Zinn's book, Zinn and the Art of _______________ Bike Repair. (The blank is there because he has a few different books for road bikes, mountain bikes, etc.)

I took a course at Barnett Bicycle Institute in Colorado Springs a few summers back, but before that I used the Zinn books for years with good results.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

@TomIrvine  Thanks for the message. I was actually also looking at the Barnett Bicycle Institute, but being from NYC I think that should maybe be my post-COVID-19 next step. I'll take a look at Zinn's books since I've seen it mentioned many times online, though I can't say I'm proficient with the tools yet. 


@jloparco  Nothing will replace taking an in person class and gaining the first-hand experience as other have said, and a few resources given already for further reading. But I want to add my personal favorite, and a budget friendly option at the low price of free, is spend a lot of time watching the entire archive of Park Tool's YouTube. High quality visuals to go along with Calvin Jone's soothing voice. I took some classes as my kick in the pants to get started, but it's been Park Tool really accelerating my learning to the point where I've confidently stripped my bike to it's bare frame for total overhaul. If nothing else, the more options the better, as everyone learns differently, and maybe one tutorial will click better with your brain than another.

It's pretty obviously part of their marketing to get you to use their brand of tools, but for the wealth of knowledge I've gotten I'll happily oblige them. And many of the tools are sold at REI too so don't forget to get that dividend!

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Hi Tom, 

I agree with you that nothing can replace an in-person class, especially for my personal learning style. Given the dark times we live in though, one can only be grateful to have an internet connection and so many online resources. 

Thank you for your recommendation, I can't wait to dive into it!