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101 Bike Maintenance Tips
Your bicycle doesn't run on leg power alone. It also needs a little lube, a lotta love, and a good listen. You may not know every remedy your bike needs to live a long life, but you can gain enough wisdom along the way to keep it in tip-top shape and out of the shop. This collection of mostly timeless advice (until advances in bicycle technology make some of it obsolete) will guide you through the role of primary caregiver-so you can leave the tough stuff to the professionals. http://www.bicycling.com/maintenance/bicycle-maintenance/101-bike-maintenance-tips
Brakes are very frustrating. Seeing how you have played around with these I am sure you already know where the adjustments nuts are. The one thing that is often overlooked by myself as well is the actual positions of the pads themselves before adjusting. The have been known to slip. Adjust those to the rim first and then adjust the calipers. I think you will have better luck with them this time.
That's fine as long as the wheel spins freely and not stopping the wheel from turning. You can loosen the nuts a bit so it would have some play. If it does affect the wheel from freely turning then you've set the tension to much. It's the same concept with automotive brakes using a floating caliper, one side will release more than the other although not hindering it's operation.
You push down on the black pedals until it starts to move forward. Remember to actually sit on the bicycle first, preferably facing forward, and on the soft part that looks as though it can accommodate a buttocks. Balance is key, because both of your feet will be busy making circular motions on the pedals, so it is balance that will actually hold you up. Do not try to balance without moving forward, because this could lead to a catastrophic fall, possibly chipping a tooth or some other such disfiguring contusion. Stopping is equally important. Do not simply pitch yourself from the moving bicycle, as this could lead to additional contusions and abrasions. Reversing one's feet in a backwards peddling motion can stop some bicycles, although if you hear a clicking sound instead of stopping, yours is not that kind of bicycle and at this moment you would prepare yourself for a spectacular crash. If a metal portion of the bicycle makes contact with the asphalt and you are going fast enough, you may even see an array of sparks.
You would have at this time determined you have the type of bicycle with hand controlled brakes. Good luck, stay safe, and happy cycling.
Are the brakes center pull or side pull?
Center pull would have a nut directly in the center of the brake. Now go to the brake lever on your handle bars and tighten the turn screw where the cable handle is. Keep turning the nut till your brakes grip.
If you have side pull brakes. Then where the cable meets the breaks. Their is a nut that the cable slides through. Loosen the nut and firmly pull the cable till its tight and retighten the nut.