Below is some commonly-sought information. If you have questions on pretty much anything other than picking out a bike to acquire, ask in /bqg/. If you want advice on picking out a bike, ask in /bbg/. If there is not a current /bbg/, make one using this template. Yotsuba is the best anime girl and if you disagree please fuck off.
Sheldon Brown's Bicycle Technical Info: Great info on specs, compatibility, repairs, and adjustments. Lots of info on older components.
Park Tool Repair Blog: Clear walkthroughs on repairs and adjustments.
Park Tool's YouTube: Same thing as above, but in video form.
Yarchive: Some articles.
I want to buy a new bike. What should I watch out for?
Buy from a reputable brand. Don't buy Wal-Mart garbage. If you're buying from a reputable brand, you can get something that's okay for a casual rider for as little as around 500 dollars. Generally, an easy way to know if a bike is from a reputable brand is if it is sold at a bike shop instead of a department store. Some reputable brands include Kona, Marin, Santa Fe, Jamis, Salsa, Surly, Specialized, Giant, Cannondale, GT, Bianchi, Cervelo (if you're a rich fred), and Pinarello (if you're a rich fred). This is a very short list of brands that came to mind. If you have some brands you want added to this list, let me know in /bqg/.
Should I buy from Bikes Direct?
No. Their bikes are better than Wal-Mart bikes, but that doesn't mean they are good. If you want a cheap bike, you can get something used on Craigslist for a few hundred dollars or less. Some anons argue that Bikes Direct bikes may be viable if quality used bikes are not available (or are not available for reasonable prices) where you live, but if buying used is not viable due to your location, you should try to save up 500 dollars for an entry-level name brand bike. Bikes Direct should be an absolute last resort. If it does come down to it, Bikes Direct is much better than the chinkshit you can find at department stores. While Bikes Direct is shit, it's not nearly as shit as department store bikes such as Magna, Huffy, Roadmaster, etc. Department store bikes are often refered to as BSOs aka bicycle-shaped objects because they are so bad that they are unworthy of even being called bicycles. If you must buy from Bikes Direct, ask in /bbg/ before buying.
I want to buy a used bike. What should I watch out for and where should I buy?
Craigslist is good for old bikes. Pinkbike.com/buysell is good for used modern mid- to high- end mountain bikes. Go with a reputable brand. This can be harder to know with old bikes since some brands aren't even around anymore and most people haven't heard of some brands that used to make good stuff. And some brands that make garbage now (i.e. Schwinn) used to make good stuff a long, long time ago. Ask in /bbg/ if uncertain.
If you want an old bike, a road bike from the 1970s-1990s or a rigid (non-suspension) mountain bike from the 1980s-1990s are good options. (mountain bikes were not produced beyond one-off customs until around 1982, hence road bikes having an earlier cutoff) Old road bikes are often refered to as OTSs which means old ten speeds, refering to their 2x5 drive train, however old road bikes sometimes have 2x6 or 2x7 drivetrains. It doesn't really matter whether an old road bike has 2x5, 2x6, or 2x7, any will be fine.
Old rigid mountain bikes can make an excellent option not only for mountain biking, but also for commuting and cruising around the city. While modern mountain bikes are really only good for mountain biking, old rigid 80s-90s mountain bikes have different geometry and no suspension, making them (in some regards) more versatile than modern mountain bikes. If using an old mountain bike for city riding, the only thing you really need to change is to swap out the knobby tires for semislicks such as Panaracer Pasela PTs.
Be aware that a used bike will need some repairs and adjustments. The most likely parts to need replacement are tubes, tires, brake pads, and chain. Rubber degrades over time so tubes and tires will likely be brittle and tire sidewalls may be rotting, and brake pads get hard with age, so even if the brake pads have hardly been used and are not worn, they will provide minimal stopping power if they are a few decades old. Chains are a wear item. Inspect all of these things as well as sprocket teeth, brake performance, shifting performance, and check bearings (bottom bracket, headset, and wheel hubs) for play, and check wheels for wobble. If there is a lot wrong with the bike, you may have to put a lot of money into it for parts, and money or time for repairs. That said, if you get lucky you can find an old bike with minimal repair work needed for only 100-300 dollars that will outperform a lot of modern bikes. Some old steel bikes are very high quality and a lot of fun to ride, so don't rule them out just because of the possibility of needing to do some work on them. It's also a great way to learn bike maintenance.
I want to buy a high quality modern bike. What should I get?
There's a lot of factors to consider. For road bikes, you can go with aluminum (cheaper) or carbon (better, but that doesn't mean aluminum is bad). Expect to spend 1,000-2,000 dollars for a new entry-level yet high quality road bike. The highest end road bikes cost over 9,000 dollars but anything above 5,000 dollars or so (go ahead and argue over this number) is diminishing returns and not worth it unless you are a very high level racer.
For mountain bikes, there is essentially a spectrum ranging from cross country to freeride. The cross country end of the spectrum is bikes designed for fast, long-distance rides on flat, non-technical terrain, and the ability to quickly climb long hills, at the expense of not handling as well on steep technical descents. The freeride end of the spectrum is bikes that are very slow and difficult to ride up hill, but can be ridden very aggressively down technical descents and even ridden off 30 foot cliffs if you don't suck. The spectrum of bikes is cross country (XC)->trail->enduro (aka all-mountain or AM)->downhill (DH)->freeride. Cross country bikes come in both hardtail and full suspension options, whereas the other categories almost always have full suspension. XC, trail, and enduro bikes are all meant to be ridden on uphill, downhill, and flat. DH and freeride bikes are meant for downhill only, and are generally brought up the mountain on a chairlift or vehicle. Freeride bikes are generally considered to be a subset of downhill bikes. The differences between these types of bikes, going from xc to freeride, are amount of suspension (least to most), geometry (least slack to most slack), weight (lightest to heaviest), and gearing (dh and fr will not always have low enough gearing for climbing). Once you decide what type of mountain bike you want, try to test ride some from reputable brands. If you don't know what kind you want, it is a good idea to buy used at Pinkbike.com/buysell so that if you change your mind and want a different type of mountain bike after learning more and experiencing more, you aren't out as much. You can often find a quality used mountain bike that's a few years old for under half the retail price. Given that mountain bikes have suspension which adds production cost, mountain bikes (especially full suspension mountain bikes) tend to be more expensive than other types of bikes, and if buying new, you should expect to spend 2,000-4,000 dollars for a full suspension bike (maybe a bit less for a hardtail). If buying used, you can get a quality full suspension bike for probably 1,000-1,500 dollars.
If you don't know which type of mountain bike to get, trail bikes are generally considered the best option for casual and new riders, but depending on personal preference and type of riding you will be doing, cross country and enduro are options as well.
Lastly in terms of mountain bikes, there is one more type that doesn't really fall anywhere in the xc->freeride spectrum: Dirt jumpers, or slopestyle bikes. These are generally considered mountain bikes but they are made specifically for riding on dirt courses with jumps. If you don't know what type of bike is right for you, it's probably not a dirt jumper, because they are a niche bike and if a dj is right for you then you'll know it.
If you want a high quality new bike but don't want road or mountain, you can get a cyclocross bike or touring bike or gravel bike. These can be had for around 1,000-1,500 dollars. For cyclocross and touring style bikes, my personal favorite is the Salsa Vaya. Other options include the Kona Rove, Kona Jake, All-City Macho Man, Surly Straggler, and Trek 520. Be aware that true cyclocross bikes are designed for cyclocross racing and will generally not be compatible with a rack or fenders, but the term 'cyclocross bike' has come to be more broad and refer to any bike that is similar in geometry to a true cyclocross race bike.
With all of that said, a lot of 1970s-1990s are quality bikes and very fun to ride, so you shouldn't feel the need to get something new and shiny and expensive. Likewise, new hybrids are around 500-800 dollars and are a great option if you want something to commute on or cruise around the city and bike paths.
Redpill me on hybrids. Why do some people love them and some people hate them?
Hybrids are good all-around bikes for commuting and cruising around and going on adventures. Some people think they hate hybrids because they have hybrids mixed up with 'comfort bikes'. Comfort bikes are a terrible thing that should not exist, and are sometimes (wrongly, in my opinion) referred to as hybrids. Other people (who do know what hybrids are) dislike hybrids because, in their opinion, bikes intended to be ridden primarily on pavement should have drop bars and therefore hybrids, having flat bars, are bad. This is purely a matter of opinion. If you want a drop bar bike, cool, go buy an old ten speed or a cyclocross bike. If you want a flat bar bike, a hybrid may be a good option for you. Some good hybrids include the Kona Dew, Marin Fairfax, GT Tachyon, Trek FX, Specialized Sirrus (Vita if femanon), Giant Escape, Cannondale Quick, and Cannondale Bad Boy. Some people dislike the Bad Boy because they don't like lefty forks. If you don't like lefty forks, cool, don't buy a Bad Boy. If buying a hybrid, do not buy a hybrid with a suspension fork. Suspension forks on hybrids tend to be low quality, and hybrids don't need suspension forks. If you are riding on terrain that is rough enough to warrant suspension, then you should be on a proper mountain bike with mountain bike geometry, not a hybrid. On a hybrid, a suspension fork is just unnecessary weight.
Redpill me on frame materials.
Steel: Comfortable and heavy. Can rust, so wipe it down after riding on salted roads during winter. Durable, and can be welded if it gets damaged. Steel is real.
Aluminum: Light and less comfortable than steel because it doesn't damp vibrations as well.
Carbon: Kinda like aluminum but does a bit better job damping vibrations, and is much more expensive than steel and aluminum.
Titanium: Some people say that titanium has the best traits of all the other materials, with the only downside being that it is expensive. However, titanium is not as easy as steel to weld. If a steel frame was built by a retard it doesn't matter, but if a titanium frame was built by a retard it's gonna fall apart and you're gonna die. So if you buy titanium, get it from a frame builder who you trust.
Bamboo, magnesium, and manganese: Almost no one uses these but if you want something unique go for it.
More information on frame materials.
Should I buy this super cheap carbon frame on eBay from some chink seller?
If you value your life, no.
Why shouldn't I buy Chinese carbon?
Because this will happen to you:
Don't worry, he survived.
What size bike should I buy?
The right size.
What are some routine maintenance things I should do to keep my bike in good shape?
Routine maintenance is lubing your chain, checking your chain for stretch, replacing your chain when it reaches 0.75%, checking tire pressure once a week, checking your bearings for play every few months, and checking your tires for wear from time to time.
Get a chain measuring tool and check the chain for stretch every few hundred miles. When it gets to .75, replace it. Running it too long will wear out your sprockets and make you spend more money replacing more parts in the long term.
Check your sprockets for wear. Your cassette will need to be replaced more often than your chainrings. Good sprockets have flat teeth tops and rounded troughs. Worn sprockets have sharp ('sharked') teeth tops and squared troughs.
Lube your chain whenever it starts squeaking. This will likely be after 150-200 miles/240-320 kilometers, but it can be significantly more or less based on various factors. You should lube based on when your chain starts making noise, not based on when you've ridden a certain amount of distance.
Fill up your tires to the desired pressure before every ride. Tires lose air over time from sitting, and riding at low pressure makes you more prone to flats. Check them at least once a week. Most tires have a maximum pressure (and potentially also a minimum pressure) listed on the sidewall. Some people like to go all the way to the maximum listed pressure, other people like to stay around 10psi below that, it comes down to preference and tradeoffs. The main thing is to make sure you're checking your pressure regularly and not letting it get too low. If you have old steel hookless rims you should stay under 60psi regardless of the tire's rating.
Check your bearings (headset, bottom bracket, hubs) for play every few months. If they are loose, that can be dangerous. If they are loose, learn how to fix them using one of Park Tool's guides or take your bike to a shop.
Visually inspect your tires from time to time to make sure the tread and sidewalls aren't getting too thin, because if they are too thin, you risk getting a blowout.
Everything else is pretty much just a matter of addressing problems when they come up.
How should I lube my chain?
You should only lube your chain, not your entire drivetrain. You only need to degrease your chain if it is really dirty. Normally, lubing it will also do a good enough job of cleaning it.
Lube your chain when it starts squeaking. This will likely be after 150 miles or so but could be significantly more or less depending on many factors. When you lube the chain, lube the full length then let it sit 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, wipe it down with a clean dry rag. Spend several minutes wiping it down. You want to get as much lube off as you can. The point of the lube is to sink into the internals of the chain. Lube on the outside of the chain (or on other drivetrain components for that matter) does not accomplish anything other than attracting dirt which makes the parts dirty and wear out faster.
As far as cleaning/degreasing other drivetrain components besides chain, just do it when they look dirty. Be careful of getting any solvent/degreaser into internals (i.e. freehub body or freewheel internals), this will fuck the bearings.
You always want to re-lube your chain after degreasing stuff even if you lubed it recently because if any solvent gets on the chain, it will sink into the internals and eat away the lube.
A good, cheap lube is Finish Line Wet Lube. It is a resiliant lube that will last a bit longer than dryer lubes. Some people don't like wet lube because they think it makes their chain dirty, but this is mostly because these people are dumb and don't wipe down their chains thoroughly after applying lube. If you want to spend more money on good stuff, Dumonde Lite is great, but it also costs a lot more money so it's not really worth it unless you like spending money when you don't have to.
The one exception to "lube only your chain" is that it's occasionally okay to oil pivot points and springs (especially on your rear derailleur). However, this is not a routine process and should not be done periodically; rather, it is done specifically in specific situations if the part is old and not working properly, and ideally should be done with something like Dri-Slide Bike Aid instead of chain lube. If chain lube is all you have, it will work, but it will attract dirt more than Dri-Slide Bike Aid, and dirty parts wear faster.
My cables are sticking, what do?
Make sure they don't have any kinks/bends. Make sure there isn't any gunk stuck in the ferrules (the caps that go on the end of the housing). Make sure your derailleur springs are clean and working properly. Oil your cables, preferably with Dri-Slide Bike Aid, but chain lube works if it's all you have.
My shifters aren't working and they feel gummy, what do?
Squirt some lube inside of them. Finish Line Speed Degreaser is ideal here, but chain lube works. It works best to open up the shifters to get the lube inside them, but if you do this, the springs may pop out and can be very difficult to get back in or even to figure out how they are supposed to go, so you may be better off trying to squirt some lube in without taking them apart.
My drive train is skipping, what do?
There are a lot of things that can cause this. Wheel not in the dropouts all the way/straight, stretched chain, worn cassette sprockets, worn chainrings, indexing (rear derailleur cable tension) not adjusted properly, derailleur hanger bent, derailleur bent, rear derailleur spring dirty or old and weak, rear derailleur B screw not adjusted properly, drivetrain components not compatible with each other, shift cable or housing dirty or damaged.
My bolt (or other part) is stuck and I can't get it to budge, what do?
Finish Line Chill Zone will sometimes do the trick. Otherwise you can oil it with chain lube or Dri-Slide Bike Aid to loosen it up.
What should I use to clean my bike?
For the drive train, solvent or degreaser. Not WD40. For the rest of the bike, Finish Line Bike Wash or isopropyl alcohol. Be careful not to get any cleaners (especially not solvent or degreaser) in your bearings (freewheel/freehub, hubs, bottom bracket, and headset), because it will eat away the grease, in which case RIP your baiku, gg now you have to learn how to overhaul bearings.
Will these drivetrain parts work with each other?
Rear drivetrain information.
Front derailleur information.
For chainrings and cranksets, you'll want the correct BCD (bolt circle diameter), correct number of chainring bolt holes (4 or 5), correct spacing of chainring bolt holes (equally spaced or offset), and correct bottom bracket spindle interface (i.e. square taper, isis, hollowtech, etc).
What helmet should I buy?
The helmet that fits you. Try some on. For the most part, high-end and low-end helmets are equally safe and meet the same safety requirements (as long as you're not buying from some chink company). Higher end helmets are more comfortable because they fit better and have better ventilation.
There are a few safety differences. Some helmets have MIPS which is designed to prevent rotational injury. There is disagreement as to how effective this is, but it will not do any harm, so at worst, it's unnecessary.
Mountain bike helmets typically come lower in the back of the head than road bike helmets so obviously those are a bit safer.
There are some new materials that some helmets are made of that are supposedly safer than the standard foam helmet construction. These are Koroyd and WaveCel. These technologies are too new to know if they indeed are safer, but they are worth looking into if you want to spend the money on the safest option.
When should I replace my helmet?
After an impact. An impact will compress the foam inside the helmet to absorb the force of impact (this is how the helmet works to protect you). This damage will likely not be visible, but will make the helmet provide significantly less protection in a subsequent impact in the same region of the helmet. Additionally, helmets will degrade over time, so manufacturers recommend replacing every 3 years even if you have not had an impact. 3 years is very conservative so you are probably okay going 2-3 times that long, as long as you take good care if your helmet (store it in a cool, dark, dry place, and do not expose it to any caustic chemicals). When cleaning a helmet, isopropyl alcohol is a good option because it is not caustic so it probably won't damage the helmet's capabilities.
Is there anything besides a helmet I need in order to be safe?
Gear: Lights. Plenty of companies make good stuff. Cygolite and Ceco to name a few.
While riding: Aside from gear, ride safely. The most important things to be aware of when riding in traffic are the right hook (or left hook if you live in a backwards commie country where people drive on the left side) and the door zone.
Right hook: For the rest of this paragraph, if you live in a left-side-driving commie country, replace 'left' and 'right'. The right hook occurs when you are biking near the right side of the road and a car decides to turn right, either because they don't see you, or because they think they already passed you and don't realize how close they are. This results in them either running into you, or going right into your path so you crash into them. A left hook is also possible if riding on the left side of a one-way road, and that's especially dangerous because drivers aren't used to seeing bicyclists on the left side. To avoid right hooks, always watch for turn signals (but remember, cagers don't always signal their turns, so don't rely on that alone), and try to avoid riding alongside a car. Drivers expect to be much faster than bikes so if you're keeping pace with a car, they will probably assume they already passed you, and turn right without even looking, and any time you approach an intersection, if there is a car alongside you or just ahead of you, just be attentive and know that they might turn right.
The door zone: As for the door zone: The door zone is the area alongside parked cars that is within the car's doors' range of motion. The danger here is that if someone is inside a parked car and opens their door right as you are riding past, they will either hit you with their door or open their door directly in your path, which can at worst knock you into traffic and kill you. The best way to avoid this risk is to avoid the door zone entirely. Take the lane. If you must ride in the door zone, pay attention to if a parked car is running or if you see people inside of a car, and always have it in the back of your mind that a door could open at any time, so you should be ready to react and, if you do get doored, be prepared to make yourself fall in a controlled way (not into traffic).
Maintenance: Lastly in terms of safety, keep your bike maintained. You don't want your brakes to give out or your tire to go flat when you're going 80 kilometers per hour down a steep hill, and that is a lot more likely to happen if you don't do regular maintenance. Check your bearings (headset, bottom bracket, hubs) from time to time to make sure they don't have any play, make sure to install your wheels properly and keep your quick releases tight enough (you should generally feel resistance starting when a quick release is at 90 degrees, but occasionally you'll run into a quick release that shouldn't feel resistance that soon, which will be obvious because it will be almost impossible to get shut; it doesn't have to be exact, just use good judgement), and if you ever disconnect your brakes (i.e. to remove/install a wheel), remember to re-connect them. Visually inspect your tires from time to time to make sure the tread and sidewalls aren't getting too thin, because if they are too thin, you risk getting a blowout which can cause a crash.
What tools should I carry with me when I ride?
A good multitool with allen wrenches, screwdrivers, chain breaker, and spoke wrenches such as Crank Bros M-17 or M-19. A master link. One or more tubes and/or a patch kit (be aware a patch kit won't fix a blowout, and will not be fun if you run over a patch of thorns and have dozens of punctures). Tire levers. Portable pump or CO2. A few zip ties. Depending on your bike, potentially a small adjustable wrench, especially if you have bolt-on wheels.
How should I lock my bike?
What is some good affordable cycling clothing such as bike shorts?
Aero Tech Designs.
What grease should I use?
If you want to spend the money for the good stuff, Phil Wood Waterproof Grease.
Where should I use grease and fiber grip/carbon paste?
Grease on seatpost (if seatpost and frame are both metal), pedal axles, chainring bolts, and crank bolts. Also on bottom bracket if it's threaded. It's a good idea to lubricate bolt threads in general, even if it's just for an accessory like a bottle cage, but it's not as crucial for accessories. Grease is also obviously used inside bearings. Grease quill stems to prevent the stem and steerer from being stuck together by corrosion. You can also grease your bars (where the stem clamps on) if your bars and stem are both metal. Do not grease steerer tubes. Do not use grease on carbon parts, or on parts that contact carbon parts.
Fiber grip, also known as carbon paste, can be used on carbon parts, or on metal parts where they contact carbon parts.Carbon on carbon can be left dry if fiber grip is not available. If you do have fiber grip, use it on any carbon part that requires clamping in place (seatpost and handlebar/stem, but not on the steerer tube, not even where the stem clamps). Fiber grip reduces the amount of torque required to secure the clamp, reducing the likelihood that the carbon fiber tube will be damaged by excessive clamping force. If carbon seatpost and/or handlebars are left dry (that is, if fiber grip is not used), it is a good idea to remove and reinsert them from time to time to prevent permanent bonding.
Grease and fiber grip change torque values. Torque specifications are sometimes for dry and sometimes for greased/fiber-gripped. If the specification doesn't say which, contact the manufacturer.
If you want to use thread locker on any of your bolts, use Permatex (blue), not Loctite.
Are Brooks saddles good?
No, they suck.
Should I buy Gatorskins?
Okay, then what tires should I buy?
Panaracer Pasela PTs for commuting and cruising around. Make sure to get the PT version because the non-PT version is prone to flats. For your fredsled, literally any slicks besides Continentals. For your mountain bike, Maxxis DHF and DHR are bretty gud.
What are some good panniers?
Should I buy a fixie or a recumbent or a folding bike or a cruiser or a comfort bike?
Only if you're homosexual.
Should I buy an e-bike?
Only if you're at least 90 years old and/or disabled. Otherwise you have no excuse to need electric assistance, faggot.
Which is better, SRAM or Shimano?
Are electronic drivetrains actually good or are they a meme for rich freds to waste money on?
They're a meme.
I have this old bike, can you help me identify it?
No, but BikePedia can.
What bike is the most collectable?
You're a retard for having to ask that. Obviously it's the Cannondale Delta V 1000.
I want to create a new /bqg/ OP image, where can I find the template?
I'm a tranny, what's the discord link?