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Daily Archives: October 12, 2019

Learn to Tinker with Your Bikes; Being Able to Make a Bike Fit and Quiet is Worth the Headache

I had a great week going, as mileage goes – especially for October.  The weather was fantastic, lows in the 50’s, highs in the low 70’s (20 C), and sunshine was plentiful.  My buddy, Chuck and I, had a fun, easy Monday 19.9 miles.  Tuesday, a perfect day as weather goes, was 31 miles for our fastest club ride ever (unassisted by the A Group – and just four tenths of a mph shy of that).  Wednesday was an easy, 23-miler – perfect conditions yet again.  Thursday was my first day in the dirt since spring and it was glorious – another perfect day, too.  Unprecedented for this time of year – and the good weather was supposed to continue, but with a big drop in the temperature.

Being a weather guy (I’m almost as avid about the weather as I am about cycling), I know the temp can’t drop 20-ish degrees in a day without a storm – the volatility created by the cold front just won’t allow it.  I was hopeful, though.  Well, my suspicion was confirmed when I checked the weather Friday morning.  I knew I wouldn’t be riding that afternoon.

I love to tinker with bikes on rain days.

My wife’s gravel bike, a Specialized Diverge, had a bum wheel.  The rim cracked at several spoke holes and was a mess.  Our local shop got Specialized to cover it under the warranty and the new wheel was in.  When my wife got home, I taught her how to take the disc brake wheel out and remove the tire so we could take her old wheel in.  Unfortunately, the old wheel was a six-bolt disc and the new one was a spline, so we left both wheels at the shop so they could fit an adapter.  Whilst there, I got to talking to the owner about the setup on the bike my friend loaned Mrs. Bgddy… the setup was a little off (reach was long), so he suggested just making it right rather than see if she’d be able to ride as it was…

So rather than mess with her trying to “get used to” the extra stretch, I went out into the bike shed and grabbed the proper stem.  I pulled my friend’s stem and replaced it with an 80mm 6° that changed the reach to match my wife’s gravel bike, and I took three spacers from the bottom as well, while I was at it, to match the drop (saddle nose to bar).  Now it should be perfect.

Prior to heading to the shop, while I was waiting on my wife to come home, I decided to work on my gravel bike a bit, specifically looking at dirt in the bottom bracket area.  The crankset was full of dirt where I wasn’t able to get at it with a towel… it just needed a good cleaning.  So I went to work.  I didn’t have any creaking when I rode, but I had a funny feeling I didn’t have long before I did.  That crankset was gnarly.  I’d just gotten everything apart and cleaned when my wife strode through the door.  After we tinkered with the loaner bike and her wheel, I finished up on my bike…  I won’t be waiting so long to clean that crank again.  What a mess.

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Next, the Shimano Sora equipped gravel bike as always been a little off as the shifting goes.  The components shift perfectly (surprisingly, almost as good as my 105 and Ultegra equipped bikes), but there’s some rubbing going on in the highest gear – and I hate that.

Well, after a whole lot of farting around, I finally found the biggest problem.  The extra-wide derailleur cage was just barely rubbing the the crank arm when the front derailleur was trimmed out for the higher gears.  Of course, all of the barrel adjusters were maxed out, too, so I simply went to town on it…  I loosened everything, took the whole front shifting system apart, cleaned and lubed everything, and put it all back together so the derailleur cage was better lined up with the chainrings and I had some adjustment in the barrel adjusters again.  It went back together perfectly.

However, because I’ve always gotta make a stupid, noob mistake when working on that bike, I turned the barrel adjuster for the rear brake instead of the shifter at one point and had worked some rubbing into the back end of the bike.  That took a minute to figure out and I actually laughed out loud when I realized what I’d done.  Oy, that bike.

With that out of the way, now the bike’s ready for Sunday’s gravel ride.  It should be a doozy.

The owner of our local shop suggested, years ago, that I tinker with my bikes.  He said, “You can’t brake it bad enough we can’t fix it”.  So I did… and I put that statement to the test, too.  It turns out he was right, though, and the knowledge paid off.  Being able to tinker with our bikes and keep them in tip-top shape has been fantastic – and my God, do I save a lot of money that way!