I rode my new gravel bike six miles yesterday, and knew it would do (setting Mrs. Bgddy’s bike up at the shop took till after 6 and it we didn’t have much daylight left). It is not perfect, but good enough for me to work with. That meant some changes were in order.
I did my wife’s first, so I could focus as much attention on her bike as I would on my own. This is an important step for me, knowing this and acting appropriately on it.
When it came time for mine, I set it in the trainer and gave it a spin. The stem was a shade off, cockeyed to the right. I took the stem all the way off, stacked some of the spacers on top, to lower the handlebar and lined everything back up.
Next the reflectors went. I don’t go out early in the morning or later in the evening without lights so reflectors are useless. I go big on being seen – active, not passive.
I adjusted the derailleurs where I wanted them. The shop did a good job, I do better.
The brake levers were set perfectly. Just the right amount of squeeze so I moved on.
Saddle was next. Height first, fore and aft second. Then a double-check on the height because I moved the saddle back quite a bit, more than a full inch.
Next I tackled the mechanical disc brakes. Now THIS part can get messy – I had a tough time getting the tandem set-up right so I approached this with some trepidation. First, to center the caliper, I loosened the bolts that hold the caliper to the fork (the front was rubbing, the back was perfect so I left it alone). I loosened the quick release and placed a twice-folded piece of paper over the disc, then replaced the wheel and tightened it back up…. The fit at the disc/pads was snug. Then I depressed the brake lever and while I held it, I tightened the bolts. I loosened the QR, pulled the wheel, removed the paper, replaced and tightened the wheel and gave it a spin…
Still rubbing. At that point I knew the problem is with the disc. I pulled out a tiny adjustable crescent wrench and used that to gently bend the disc so it ran true – you use the brake caliper and pads as your guide…. Here’s a photo, with my bike upside down, to show where I look to see which way to bend – this is the front wheel btw:
Once I’d straightened the disc, the rubbing ceased. I checked the rear brake again, just to make sure, but it was perfect.
Then, one final item that separates the initiated from the noob…. I’d already checked the rear derailleur and indexed it so I knew the set-screws were adjusted properly. I removed the wheel, then the cassette, and took the silly spoke protector off. If your bike’s set-up is right, the only thing they’re good for is collecting dirt.
Bob’s your uncle, the bike is ready to tackle all of the dirt roads I can throw at it (well, after some better rubber, those slicks won’t do on a dirt road).