Category: maintenance

What? I Can’t Just Ride My Bike?

I’VE been wrenching on my own bikes for years and am comfortable doing the basic, and some higher-level repairs and maintenance myself. Those more difficult repairs…Different story.

I’M hesitant to mess with the Di2 on the Emonda so I leave that to Wizard Jay at Big Daddy’s. Hydraulic brakes? Haven’t tackled those either but I’ve got the bleed kit now. Sheepish grin. Read on…

New cables and housing on the bikes with internal cable routing? Nope, not yet.

AS Toph would say, though, it’s all on YouTube, Mark, so check for videos before you do anything. He’s gifted, though. Me, I got a “C” in wood shop.

STILL, with patience and deliberation over the years, and lots of practice, I’ve done a lot of things that others might have to pay for. And I know that if I get to the point where I’m stuck, or if I screw anything up, I’ve always got Jay.

RECENTLY, though, I’ve gotten a couple of wake up calls and so I thought I’d share in the hopes that you don’t do what I do (uh, did), and just ride your bike.

Yup, Maintenance is Required

Got some sweet new bottle cages for Blue for Christmas (thanks to my nephew, Bret) and thought one morning before a ride that I’d just switch out those cages really quick so I can flaunt the bling-bling.

WHOA, that bolt came off way to easily. Sure enough, just the bolt-head came off; the rest of the f*$%#n bolt was still in the frame. There was some sticking out, though, so I grabbed some needle-nose pliers. No dice. Not enough gription.

OKAY, you’re up Mr. Dremel. I cut a nice slot in the top of the bolt but no dice with that either. That bolt was just too corroded; it wouldn’t budge. Eventually, the edges of the slot I had cut “stripped away” and there was no more bite to be had by the ‘driver.

GRABBED a different bike for that ride and took Blue into Jay. He drilled it out. Not something I know how to do and not sure I would have done it anyway on that frame. Better left for the pro…

NOTE to self (and good advice for you as well, mayhaps): grease and check those bottle cage bolts regularly, especially if you ride in weather or post-weather, if you will. Spray from snowy, slushy roads was the culprit in my case I theorized since I don’t ride much in the rain or snow itself.

So, I’m Reading the Recent Issue of Bicycling

AND there’s this great side-column, “Maintenance Minute – Presented by ParkTool” and a nice list of basic things to look for when inspecting your bike. Some of the items on this list include:

  • Chains – Check wear with every lubrication. Use a chain-checker regularly, says Jay.
  • Brake Pads – Disc: Replace at <1mm pad thickness. Rim: Replace when worn to wear line.
  • Hydraulic Brake Fluid – Replace every ~5K miles.
  • Cassettes – Typically replace with every third chain.

I do a good job keeping my eye on my chain nowadays. This since Jay gave me ca-ca when I took the bike in for excess chain noise. Have you checked your chain lately? No, Jay, I just ride my bike. It was way past worn, as it turns out. I hung my head in shame.

BRAKE pads? I can honestly say I’m good at that one. Ride discs and have pads handy, and have done quite a few pad swaps over the years. But…I never really did think about a specific thickness at which they should be changed. I just went by feel, you know? Not the best plan though so I took off the wheels and removed the pads and measured them. 2mm all around. Thank you bike gods. That can wait.

BRAKE fluid? Well like I wrote at the beginning of this post – it’s on my list. And honestly I bought the kit before I read the article. Still, Blue has ten-thousand on him so I need to get on that obviously.

CASSETTES – I’ve never really paid attention to those. Mostly, in my defense, because up until the last few years I haven’t ridden enough miles to make it an issue. I eventually got around to it. So, cringe, let me check the cassettes on the KICKR and Blue.

HOLY chain wear Batman! Not good. I’ve never seen such ridges.

THIS pic from Blue’s rear wheel. The cassette on the trainer was a bit worse.

THANKFULLY, I had a cassette handy so I was able to change out the one on the KICKR. It wasn’t the right size for the Emonda. I ordered one of those though, and I will soon change out that cassette (and the chain). I checked, Jay, it’s at about 75% wear.

I’M experiencing better shifting on the trainer. No surprise. And, I’m looking forward to that “new drivetrain experience” on Blue very soon.

HOW about you? Any funny maintenance stories?

ARE you going to check your chain, cassette or brake pads now? No worries, that’s what I did. If it wasn’t for someone at Bicycling having the presence of mind to slap that little sidebar in there I probably would have gone awhile and could possible have experienced some mechanical issues. Likely in the worst possible place, too, like eight (8) miles behind the gate on Monitor Pass or something. Wait…is there a good place for a mechanical?

IN any case, don’t be like me, okay? Ask yourself, “What would Jay do?”

BY the way, we hope to see you at the Ride & Walk 4 Art next weekend!

COME on by & say hi, and if you show me your new cassette, chain or brake pads, I’ll give you a tee!

Riding in the Mountains? Can I Give You A Few Unsolicited Bits of Advice?

THESE nuggets of wisdom are of the mechanical kind, as opposed to weather, clothing, climbing and other such tidbits I’ve blogged about in the past. When riding in the mountains or hills, really anywhere for that matter, these are the additional things that I focus on since there is nothing worse than listening to your own, or someone elses, noisy velocipede, especially on long climbs and descents.

THE idea from this post came to me last week when I was riding in South Lake Tahoe with a friend of mine and “that annoying rattle” reared its ugly head again.

Silence Those Rattles

nature animal reptile snake

LOOSE things rattle. Whether they be in your saddle bag, top-tube bag or jersey…Make them stop!

EVEN if you have grown accustomed to them your riding partners may not have.

DO yourself and your fellow riders a favor and quiet that bike where you can.

IN my case, that annoying rattle was my multi-tool in the seat bag. I thought I had fixed it but oh no, on that ride last Friday night it was back, like the Terminator. I had added some padding to the case the tool was in and figured that did it but as it turns out, upon further inspection I found one of the bolts had come loose.

A bit of tightening and ahhh, no more rattle.

CHECK for those unfastened, unattached or unsecured bolts, nuts, etc. and FASTEN, ATTACH and SECURE them.

Rattle and Hum is an astounding album; it’s the hum that should apply to our bikes, though, not the rattle, right?

‘NUF said.

Use Loctite

IN preparing the cockpit for filming I picked up a K-EDGE mount for Blue, one of my faithful steeds. It only took a couple rides of the Diamond Valley Loop to get that thing a rattlin’. Loctite to the rescue.

I’VE ridden hundreds of miles since applying the high strength version (and it’s been in my workbench for YEARS) and that mount has not loosened. At all.

THIS stuff, or some threadlocker like it, is gold.

Prepare for Bad Roads

ROADS here in the Sierra Nevada, as well as many, if not all of the coastal hills in which I’ve ridden, are generally crappy. Water, snow, heat, and those pesky vehicles 😉 all take their toll.

THINK about reducing tire pressure, adding dropper seatposts with suspension, or as my friend Mike did on his gravel bike, augment your trusty steed with a suspension stem.

TIRE size is another consideration. I rode 23mm tires for many years but switched to 25mm rubber rings a couple years back. The ride is more plush.

I could even go bigger.

AND as for tire pressure…higher pressure isn’t always better. I ride Continental Grand Prix 5000s and while the max pressure is listed at 120 PSI (8.5 BAR), the recommended pressure is listed as 95 PSI and 6.5 BAR. I pump up the rear tire to 90 PSI and the front to 80 PSI. And I’m a big boy at 230 lbs (104.55 kg for you metric-geeks)!

Keep Things Clean and Lubed

WHEN you can hear the chain, it’s time to lube it. Or perhaps replace it. Use that chain-checker! I use mine all the time but Jay at Big Daddy’s keeps catching me with bad chains nonetheless. I’ll try to do better, Jay.

I don’t do a good job keeping my bikes clean. I have to do better there as well. So, do what I say, not what I do. Keep it clean, like a Virgo would. You didn’t know that about Virgos? Ask my former roomie.

closeup and selective focus photography of toothbrush with toothpaste

GIVE that guy a bathroom and a toothbrush…Sparkling, let me tell ya!

SERIOUSLY, though, over a long ride, especially during a long ride, those squeaks, squeals, screeches and scrapes can be irritating for you, your riding companions and your bike.

TAKE some time (I’m talking to you, Mark) and lube that shit, will ya?

LUBE? you ask. Keith and Jay (and I) recommend Boeshield T-9. It’s not as neat and tidy as a wax job (Scott reminds me of this often) but it’s a helluva lot easier. Again, if you can hear that chain, it’s time to lube it. If you notice sluggish shifting or your trim just doesn’t seem to trim, it could be time to replace it.

Smiling and ready to race on rattle free, lubed, quiet, clean, bikes! Helmet adjustments needed prior to dust-off, though.

Alrighty, then. I hope you, and your friends and family, found these suggestions helpful, thought-provoking and on-point.

GOT some of your own? Share ’em! Please.

Memory Lane?

Click here for a post about cycling in the sierra and here for yet another, this one about climbing mountain passes.

THANKS for reading.

STAY healthy; if it’s smoky outside, ride inside; be safe, and most importantly enjoy the ride (on a quiet bike).