Suburban Assault

Posts Tagged ‘Bike Repair

New Cassette + New Chain + Proper Tune-up = Awesome Ride

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Cleaned, Tuned and Awesome

It’s been a while since I took my 23-year old, geared bike in for a tune-up. It was a combination of bad timing, limited funding, do-it-youself pride, embarrassment for putting it off, followed by the morbid fear that it would cost more than a new bike, that kept me from taking it in.

Bad timing, because I don’t give myself much of a down season. I didn’t feel like making the time to be without my bike for too long. Limited funding, because money for my bike is low priority compared to other expenses. Do-it-yourself pride allowed me to fudge my way around basic maintenance and cleaning. This led to my bike getting to an eventual state of serious wear – leaving me too embarrassed to bring it in.

My bike was showing some serious wear in the drivetrain. The chain, gears, shifters and hubs (all original) were really worn and loose – which made the bike hard to pedal. It was a rough ride, at best. I feared the cost of replacing or repairing these things may have been more than the bike was worth.

I decided to bite the bullet and take it in to my local bike shop, Richardson Bike Mart. One of their great mechanics took a quick look and gave me an assessment that took me by surprise. The repair and tune-up was going to cost me far less than I had anticipated. It needed a new cassette and chain, both would cost me about the same as a tank of gas. They said they would look at the hubs, shifter and everything else with the tune-up. If it needed any other new parts, or a more extensive repair, they would let me know. Fortunately, it didn’t.

When I got my bike back, I was blown away with how great it looked. That was nothing compared to how great it rode. The new cassette, chain and proper tune-up turned my old clunker into a sweet ride, and I truly enjoy riding it again.

If you’ve been putting off a good bike tune-up, I strongly recommend not being like me and waiting so long. Get it tuned-up now! Life is too short to ride a poorly adjusted bike. If you can’t tool on it, yourself, take it in to your favorite local bike shop. They can take care of you, and you’ll be putting money back into your local economy.

New Chain and Cassette

Old, Worn Out, Parts

MadeGood.com – Delivering a high quality, easy to use, online repair manual. For everyone.

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As an aspiring bicycle mechanic, and by that I mean having almost no ability and even less confidence, I’ve been wanting to learn more about wrenching bikes. Sure, I can fix a flat, adjust a rim brake or switch out an accessory here and there, but I really lack the knowledge to tackle the big jobs, like drivetrains, gears and building/truing wheels.

I’m not the kind of guy that can pick up a mechanic’s manual and follow step-by-step. I need hands-on training with real parts and tools, being taught by a real mechanic. I like having the ability to ask questions and get immediate feedback. I’ve considered going to United Bicycle Institute in Oregon or taking on a part-time job at a local shop (even for no pay), but I don’t have the time or flexibility right now.

YouTube and Sheldon Brown are great resources, but you don’t get that one-on-one instruction or feedback.

There is a new site out there (well, new to me), where it takes it a step further. It’s called MadeGood.com. MadeGood is a website that is “delivering high quality, easy to use, online repair manual. For everyone.” They also claim to be “a complete guide to fixing bikes, in one place, for the first time” as well as giving you “access to the worlds largest community of professional bike mechanics.” Sounds pretty promising.

I went ahead and signed up with a user account (which is free), and I plan to do a little exploring. So far, I’ve discovered a few interesting, well produced videos. The site is well organized, and a pleasure to explore. I haven’t tapped into the bike mechanic community yet. I’ll follow up, once I do.

Sure, MadeGood.com won’t replace that hands-on training that I want, but it’s a big step closer.

Written by dickdavid

July 20, 2012 at 5:39 am

How The Hell Was I Stopping?

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OEM Pads

I’m usually the guy that stays up on things, when it comes to routine maintenance. I change the air filter on my home’s AC religiously. My car never goes too long without an oil change. I even keep up with my software updates on all my computers and electronic devices. How the heck did I overlook something as important as the brakes on my bike?

Part of it was procrastination – it’s hard to find time to ride, let alone time to tool on my bikes. “Just one more season” was my annual excuse. Part of it was lack of knowledge – although bike brakes are one of the few things that I can actually work on, I wasn’t familiar enough with them to know when to change them out. Part of it was not messing with the set up – it took me lots of adjusting to eliminated all the brake squealing. And part of it was me being too cheap – although new pads are inexpensive, I’ve convinced myself to use the current ones until they stopped working.

I didn’t take into account that my braking ability was slowly diminishing over the years – so slowly that I almost didn’t notice. The levers would just get pulled a little tighter and the stopping distance just got a little longer. “Just one more season.”

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) a woman in a car pulled out in front of me and I had to lock the brakes to stop in time. Something snapped. Ironically, it wasn’t the pad that failed, but rather my front brake cable. I guess it’s not so ironic considering how much additional force I’ve been applying to it, over the years, to make up for the lack of pad resistance.

I decided to change out the pads and cables before my next emergency stop. As I was changing everything out, I came to the realization that this was a process that was never done on this particular bike. That’s quite a revelation, considering that it’s my oldest bike – a 1993 Diamondback Apex. Sure, there were some months when it just hung in the garage, but I’ve put a bunch of  miles on this bike over the years. These were the 18 year old OEM brake pads that I was changing out. “Just one more season.”

How the hell was I stopping on these things?

Old OEM Pad

18 Year Old OEM Pad

New Pad

New Pad For Comparison

New and Old

New Vs Old Comparison

New and Old

New Pad Next To An 18 Year Old OEM Pad

Written by dickdavid

July 14, 2011 at 5:57 am