I've recently decided to get back into biking. I have a mountain bike that I bought probably early on in middle school. (I'm now a college student.) It's sat in my garage all these years, so, unsurprisingly, it needs some work.
After dusting it off a bit and inflating the tires, I was able to take it for a spin. It "worked," but with a few noticable problems that I'm hoping you guys can help with.
1.) The front brake 'pad' is touching the tire on one side. I can move it by hand to the other side slightly, but it doesn't stay. I'm not quite sure how to adjust it, but it causes it to make an awful squeaking sound, and it'll probably wear the brakepad out real quick. I've got two photos: http://ttwagner.com/brake1.jpg shows where it's touching, and http://ttwagner.com/brake2.jpg shows how the entire assembly is leaning to the left. (Also, in the first photo, what's the deal with that thing that sticks out?
2.) The chain, in some gears, is rubbing up against a metal 'guard.' How can I align this? (Again, two photos: http://ttwagner.com/chain1.jpg from the side, and http://ttwagner.com/chain2.jpg from the top, although a bit blurry.) Also, in the second photo, what is the thing that I circled? Is there a reason the screws aren't in tight?
(FWIW, the chain is not completely rusted like it looks in the photos. It needs to be cleaned and lubed, but that's about the extent of it.)
You're in luck... I worked in a bike shop for many many years. Keep in mind that was many many years ago though.
1. Make absolutely sure your front wheel is seated correctly in the forks first. If it's cockeyed that would be your problem. If the front wheel is in the forks all the way then we'll move to step 2. See the little allen head screw below that metal rod? That adjusts the brakes left to right. If you screw it in it will move the brake shoes toward the screw. If you screw it out it will move the brake shoes away from the screw. This takes a very small allen wrench though.
I don't know what that metal rod is. I've never seen anything like that before.
2. This one is a little more complicated. The thing you have circled that says "What is this thing" are the stops for the front derailleur. The screw closest to your seat tube stops the derailleur from knocking the chain completely off the smallest sprocket while shifting. The one furthest from the seat tube stops the derailleur from pushing the chain past the largest sprocket. If chain is rubbing against the front derailleur when properly in gear then you need to adjust the cable tightness which can be done at the handlebars. A few twists either way will tell you if you're going the right direction.
The front brake 'pad' is touching the tire on one side. I can move it by hand to the other side slightly, but it doesn't stay. I'm not quite sure how to adjust it, but it causes it to make an awful squeaking sound, and it'll probably wear the brakepad out real quick.
I'm not an expert on bike maintenance but if the break squeaks while you're breaking that's because the front of the pad is hitting the rim first, simply (famous last words), make it so the back of the break pad hits first to stop that.
The best thing may be to take it to a bike shop for advice; a lot will give advice for free.