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Daily Archives: August 25, 2015

The Easiest, Fastest, Most Overlooked Bike Maintenance Item: The Steering Assembly.

I won’t get into the How To of cleaning and lubing the steering assembly, I’m saving that for an upcoming series, but if you haven’t taken the steering assembly apart and cleaned it lately, think about getting it done.

Mine took ten minutes.

Disassembled, cleaned, lubed, and put back together.  Ten minutes.

I have the newer, since the early 2000’s, threadless stem system.  The older quill stem systems are a little more complex, but not all that bad either.  The threadless stem system is painfully simple though…  If you absolutely can’t wait for the post in the new series, I’ve written about this issue before, and the link has two videos embedded that explain both the threadless stem and the quill stem options for cleaning and lubing the steering assembly.

The problem, of course, is the putting it back together.  There’s a lot that rides on putting everything back together, not only in the correct order but getting everything properly tightened down.  Get it too loose and you could crash or completely screw up your bike.  Too tight and you can ruin the bearings.

The problem is that there isn’t a lot of wiggle room for the do-it-yourselfer – and no room on the loose side.  Even a little loose is exceptionally bad for the bike and is dangerous to ride the bike in such a state.

There is light at the end of the tunnel though, and it’s not a train…

If the bike is a rockin’, don’t bother knockin’.  On second thought…

The trick to making sure you have the tension right is rocking the bike back and forth with the front brake firmly engaged after everything is properly put back together and tightened down.  Pull the brake lever with your left hand and wrap your right hand around the place where the fork comes together with the steerer tube.  Another good place to feel the movement is the spacers just below the stem – I check for movement in both places before I’m satisfied because my bike fits together very well, the parts fit together tight, so it can be tough to detect movement.  Finally, if you want a third, even better way to make sure you’ve got the stem tight enough, with the bike on a rack, with your right hand on either of the locations described previously, strike the tire sharply from the front (just be careful not to knock the bike off of the stand…  If the stem is loose, you’ll feel it.

So, don’t neglect the steering assembly, you’ll be amazed at how much dirt gets in there…  It’s gnarly.  I’ve heard recommendations of twice a year for this item, but after the last time, I might bump mine up to three.

Getting the Orange Sweat Stains Out of White Cycling Kit… It’s Easier Than You Think.

I sweat orange.  I’ve read it has to do with well water and sunscreen.  I do have a well and with 12-14 hours a week in the sun, I go through some sunscreen, but I have a water softener too so I technically shouldn’t get the stains.  I do though, and it pisses me off.  So much that I quit buying white clothing long ago…  I hate feeling like a slob even though I’m not, so it’s just easier to go with blue, black, gray or some version of tan clothing and I can avoid the problem altogether.

Then came cycling.  All but two or three of my jerseys have white in them, but only two have white in the collar.  My club kit has a white collar and I knew I was in trouble the second I opened the first package (I have two club kits – both large bibs, but I have a Large jersey for late in the season and an Extra Large for cycling between Thanksgiving and June – chuckle).

So I did what any self-respecting husband would do…  I left solving the conundrum to my wife.

I know, I know, I can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth already…  Look, my wife and I have a partnership.  She takes care of some stuff, I take care of other stuff.  What we have works and we are happy, so butt out.  That said, she solved my problem…

Three days ago, the collar on my mid-season jersey was orange:

Not orange any more.  You’d be right to say, “Hey man, that’s gleaming!”  It is, ’cause my wife rocks.

So before we get to the simple, painless even, solution, let’s look at the problem.  Every now and again my jerseys don’t make the proper laundry cycle.  My wife has other things to wash before my jersey can make it into the washer.  Now being a guy and living in a very wet region with a well, I’ll wash anything after a ride, just to keep it from sitting.  My wife, on the other hand, being a conscious hippie, will sometimes let a jersey sit for 10-20 hours until we accumulate a decent load to wash.  The problem is that wait.  That’s why my stuff turns orange.  If it makes it right into the wash, it won’t stain.

So, what’s the answer?  My favorite Tide sport.  With the collar dingy and orange, my wife told me to soak the collar in a small amount of straight laundry detergent…  I just poured a couple of table spoons into a plastic cap, balled up the collar, stuck it in the detergent, rubbed it in a little bit and let it sit for a few hours.  My wife ran a load, maybe three or four hours later and that’s how it came out right there.  Easy as it gets.