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Ican Standard Wheelset Hubs, Cleaning and Servicing Them to Address Funky Free-wheel Noises

A friend of mine had a problem with his Ican rear wheel hub a few weeks ago. When he would coast, the hub would make a high-pitched whirring sound it shouldn’t. Now, there are six contact points in the Ican hub so it makes a distinct free-wheel sound when coasting. I happen to think it sounds awesome, personally. I have a set of the standard wheels on my rain bike – and they recently started making the same sound when free-wheeling. Now, it should be clear from “rain” bike that the Icans get the worst of the riding conditions. If there’s more than a 15% chance of rain I won’t take my good bike. The Trek, my rain bike, has been through a lot since I put those wheels on the bike a year or two ago. I’m happily surprised that they lasted this long without a servicing.

Now, when you pull the hub apart, if you want to go hole hog, you can pull the dust caps on the bearings and install new balls, but mine were nowhere near needing that yet. The hub did require a thorough cleaning, though.

This level of cleaning and servicing is so astoundingly easy, it’s almost not worthy of a post, but it will help some, and it’s an excellent start into bicycle maintenance that’s fairly difficult to do wrong. So let’s begin.

For tools, you’ll need the following:

A chain whip, cassette removal nut, a big wrench, two 5 mm Allen wrenches, heavy lube, light lube.

First, we remove the wheel and the cassette from the wheel. With the wheel standing upright, insert one 5 mm Allen wrench in either side of the axle hole (where the quick release runs through the axle) and loosen the dust cap (it threads into the cassette body). Once the dust cap nut is removed, the cassette body simply slides out of the hub, exposing the sealed bearings. Give the bearings a quick spin to make sure there’s no “grinding” feel to them. If so, the ball bearings will need to be replaced (at which point I march the wheel straight to the shop and pay them to deal with it). If the bearings are good, all that’s left is to clean everything, lube the moving pieces and put it back together.

I like to use a light spray lube on the pawls (the spring-loaded teeth that grab onto the hub when the pedals are turned). I find heavy and dry lubes tend to gum up the cassette body. So I hit each pawl (6 total for Ican standard wheels) with a quick blast of the light lube. This will clean and lube the inner working surfaces. Wipe off the excess. Then I’ll turn my attention to the inner teeth of the hub. I wipe the surfaces clean with a paper towel being sure not to press any dirt into the bearing cover plate. Heavy lube goes on the bearing surfaces that the axle goes through.

Once that’s done we’re going to install the cassette body back onto the axle. Now, this gets a little tricky because there’s a floating washer inside the cassette body, behind the bearing, that can get in the way and make it seem like the body won’t slide back onto the axle. Center that washer with your pinky finger, a q-tip, or a piece of wire/cable and slide the cassette body over the axle. With the body on the axle, it’ll stop shy of entering the hub body because the pawls are sticking out. Finagle them into position so the cassette body fully seats in the hub.

NOW, before you go and put the dust cap back on, give the cassette body a little spin to make sure it operates smoothly as it sits. If there’s some resistance to it, it’s likely not seated properly. Remove the cassette body and reinsert it. Now you can thread on the dust cap and tighten it down. Put the cassette back on, tighten it down and Bob’s your uncle.

Give it a quick test-spin to make sure the funky whirring sound is gone.

With the proper tools handy, this should take ten or fifteen minutes – and it’s worth it to keep your rear wheel running smoothly. Especially if you’re riding the bike in gnarly conditions.

To Thine Own Crank Be True: The Number One Creakiest Thing On Your Bike and How To Silence It (sadly, not for good).

Tighten down those Boas, boys and girls. Cinch up those helmet straps ladies and gents. Smack your quads and call me (big)daddy, let’s take this baby out for a (quiet) spin!

I’m not going to beat around the bush with this post. Well, except for that first spectacular paragraph, which is fantastic, but other than that, let’s get into it!

There are a pile of crank types out there and they are not all created equal. If you want simplicity that just works, you want Shimano. Lightweight, works spectacularly… and costs as much as an entry-level mountain bike? S-Works or Campagnolo Super Record. Next level, you can’t afford this $#!+? THM Clavicula. Reasonable priced but a tad heavy? FSA or Praxis for the alloy cranks. SRAM Red, Rival or the high-end FSA models are decent.

They all break down a little different and some are going to be more susceptible to collecting grit than others and grit is the problem. It causes more creaks in a bottom bracket/crank interface than anything else known to cycling – that grit can also be exceedingly difficult to get out of the little nooks and crannies of the bottom bracket so it quiets down, too. Every group has one of those cyclists who you hate to see get out of the saddle because you know, the second that ass leaves the saddle, their bike will sound like someone chewing on Pop Rocks with their mouth open.

The main key to a non-creaky bike is to keep that bottom bracket and pedal spindle clean and properly lubed. Most cranks only require loosening a bolt or two to get the crank apart (or two clamp bolts and a cap for Shimano – and that cap requires a specialty tool), but for my bang for the buck, my BB30 S-Works crank is the best, least maintenance crank I’ve got in the stable, then the cranks on the tandem (I’ve never serviced them in the four years we’ve had the bike and they’re still silent as the day I brought it home[!]). Most will let in a little grit or dust over time and will eventually start clicking and creaking. FSA and SRAM cranks have wavy washers to preload the systems, so there’s a rather large gap at the crank spindle that’ll let dirt into the works so those have to be cleaned often to keep them quiet.

Being the mechanic of the house, I won’t deal with a crank that has a wavy washer because breaking a crank down every time I run my bike through a puddle isn’t exactly my idea of fun.

Anyway, what’s important to know is that those quiet bikes don’t get or stay that way on their own. An S-Works crank will stay quiet on its own for the most part. A Shimano will need to be cleaned a few times a year. A wavy washer crank, figure every two or three weeks, maybe more (if you ride through a puddle). The point is, if you take care of your crank, keep it clean and lubed, it’ll reward you with not being the Pop Rock person in the pace-line.

Have Bike(s) Will Ride… For Sanity and Happiness. And Friendships.

I sent out the invite to our cycling friends Friday afternoon, hoping five would show up for our Saturday morning ride. It was due to be cold and quite breezy, so I figured it would be a small crew. The text list has grown in the last four years since I began putting rides together. It started out as a twelve-person text. The list has more than tripled.

My hope of five was vastly underestimated.

Friends started filing in around 8:20… Phill, Brad, Joel… then Mike and Diane rolled up. Then McMike… my wife and I made it a gaggle. We rolled out, heading west to unknown territory, roads most of us had never seen before – we ride paved roads out that way all of the time, never dirt. We were out for a straight up dirt road adventure.

We picked David up along the way, maybe five miles up the road, to make nine.

The ride was, for the most part, moderate and fun. There were times when it got a little fast, but as soon as someone fell off the back we’d hold up. We had almost every style of dirt bike there is, from mountain bikes to entry-level gravel bikes, right up to a $4,500 epic, a Crux and a Salsa Warbird. It was a diverse group, let’s say that.

Late fall in Michigan can’t be beat for dirt road cycling. Mountain bikes, gravel bikes, cross or fatties, and this autumn has been utterly spectacular. Cold, most of the time, with a few warmer days, but mainly dry. The “mainly dry” is the important part for me – I can ride in the cold, I hate riding in mud.

And so we rolled down the road, keeping a decent pace but certainly not crushing it. We laughed and caught up, told jokes and poked fun at each other as we rolled along. We simply had a good time in the cold sunshine.

Cycling makes things seem normal again for me. COVID, politicians, shutdowns, the utter silliness of politics, uncertainty… and the frustration of a nation, myself (obviously) included, that gets sucked into arguing the extremes to the benefit of politicians who consistently lie and flout their own rules and regulations to illustrate just how silly the rules, regulations and politicians really are… it all goes away for the time it takes to make it around a 35-mile dirt loop on my gravel bike with my friends.

Thankfully, talk of politics on bike rides is fading and turning to more pressing topics, like “where does that road go?” Here we were, nine friends out for a late autumn two-wheeled adventure. So it was yesterday morning for more than two glorious hours. When we pulled into the driveway, I couldn’t have been happier.

And I was so excited to see so many mountain bikes, I pulled mine out of the garage and got it ready to ride in case it was possible this morning. We’ve got a rain/snow mix moving in just about the time we’d clip in, so doubtful… but that mountain bike sure cleaned up nice. I just may pull her back out for a ride over Thanksgiving weekend.

Having so many bikes to choose from presents a fun problem to have; which one to choose?!