Radar

I’ve used Garmins varia radar previously, but didn’t like that blocky look it had. However, you can’t knock the usefulness of the unit in giving you information on what’s happening behind you.

The new radar unit, is more elongated, and slimmer than the original, and to my eye my more pleasing.

In use, it’s great, it gives me an idea of traffic, long before I hear it, with clear and easy to read graphics on my head unit.

There’s not much more to say on the unit that hasn’t already been said, for a much more detailed and in-depth look, be sure to check out DC Rainmakers blog.

Gears don’t always smooth the way

So I was lubricating my chain, and I happened to notice the 11 tooth cog had a significant wobble.

The gear would of yen catch the chain when back peddling the bike. So, a bit of investigation was in order. Taking the cassette off the freehub, it was obvious there was a lot of ring bite into the freehub splines. This is where the force of peddling the bike causes the mounting lugs on the cassette to wear a grove into the freehub splines. Not a massive issue on the middle cogs where it often occurs.

However, the 11 tooth kinda sits off the hub, and looking, there was some big gouging on the splines causing the cog to sit angled. So I tried filing off the worst parts. But this didn’t help, causing the lock ring to be angled on the cog.

So, the only option is to replace the whole freehub, and luckily I had a spare wheel available. So a quick change over, and ensuring the lock ring was REALLY tight, which should go some way to completely clamp the cogs down, keeping any movement to a minimum, hopefully should be the end to cassette wear.

New Pedals

So, I’ve had a little upgrade from my Shimano R550 pedals, I’ve gone and installed a pair of Look Blades.

So, initial thoughts on them, is that they are easier to engage into than the Shimano, and oddly more comfortable. But unclipping is another matter. It’s not difficult to unclip, it’s just the range of motion is greater to actually unclip and it seems to throw the foot off, almost in disgust that your unclipping. Any hesitation, or having the cleat near seems to suck the cleat back into the mechanism.

With the Shimano, a kick to the side, and your foot was just on the pedal, ready to put down, but still be able drive forward if needed. Handy for those traffic slow down moments. The blades, a throw from the ankle sees your foot thrown, a more gentle twist, unclip then reclips the cleat.

But in truth, they are a great pedal, and it’ll be time before I’m used to their quirks, but they are on my bike to stay. I might however, fit the tighter blade, as the 12Nm that comes fitted as standard just doesn’t feel tight enough.

I’ve now been riding them for a few months, and occasionally get more clip in fails than I did with the shimano pedals. Wether this is down to lack of skill on my part or the pedal is however up for debate.

Headset service

Headsets are one of the things that people seem to have problems with, so during this maintenance of my headset, I’ll work through the steps needed to break down, clean and rebuild a headset.

The headset on this bike uses two sealed bearings in an integrated, other bikes use caged bearings.

So, the first thing todo is remove the front wheel. Once that’s out the way, remove the brake, and secure it to the frame of the bike. Doing this will let you completely remove the full fork, and make it easier to clean the steerer tube, and fork crown.

Now comes the interesting bits.

Start by removing the top cap, there’s a lot of parts to a headset, so make sure you have somewhere to put them all down. Try to lay out the parts in the order you remove them.

There maybe a small spacer under the top cap.

Slacken off the stem pinch bolts, and gently remove the stem and handlebar assembly, and secure it on the bike frame.

Remove all the spacers from under the stem.

But while your doing that, ensure your supporting the fork, as there is a possibility it might drop out the frame.

Now, if the forks won’t move down, support the fork underneath, and slap the top of the exposed steerer tube, and it should move down. Now push it back up, and the weather cover, and the spacer should be able to be removed. the whole fork should now slide out.

Check the fork to see if the bearings came out with the fork, or if the stayed in the frame.

Now, remove the bearings, from both the top, and bottom, taking note of which way they came out, and which one was top and bottom.

Now, get a rag, and clean up.

  • Clean the top bearing seat
  • Clean the bottom bearing seat.
  • If sealed bearings, wipe off the old grease and dirt, but don’t use degreaser. Spin each bearing in your fingers feeling for any play or grittiness. Replace if any problems
  • Clean off the fork steerer tube, and crown race.
  • Leave all parts to dry out.

When your ready, it’s time to reassemble.

Start off with a liberal amount of grease to each bearing race, top and bottom, and the crown race. Use a good quality grease, the grease both lubricates the races, and protects the bearings from dirt and water. The headset gets absolutely soaked by the front wheel, so a good waterproof grease is the best option.

Now, slide the first bearing onto the steerer tube in the right orientation, and seat it into the grease. I like to take the grease that presses out and smear it over the bearing. Now, taking the fork, slide it back into the frame, making sure the bearing seats correctly.

And, this is where having everything to hand really helps. As your holding the fork in place, slide in the top bearing, and the bearing spacer. I like to smear a little grease on the top of the bearing, just to give it a little more protection. Add the weather cap, spacers and put the stem back on the steerer tube. Rethread the top cap, along with any spacers needed, don’t tighten it, just enough to hold the whole system to get her.

Now take a moment, and clean up any grease that’s squeezed out. Reattach the brake, Put the front wheel back in and finally center up the brakes.

It’s time to tension the whole assembly. Take the bike out of the work stand, nip down the top cap just a touch. Apply the front brake and rock the bike forward and back. What your feeling for, is play in the headset. So any knocking you feel, tighten the top cap by a very small amount. Keep on repeating until you can’t feel any play, or feel any knocking. Check that the whole system can be rotated, with no binding.

If a video, is easier to follow for this, I’ll let the excellent GCN explain it in this video.

Once your happy with the tension, center your stem, and tighten your stem bolts, double check your bars are still straight, and go ride your newly greased bike!

I will update this with pictures the next time I do a full headset service.

What a time

So, we are in the middle of a global pandemic. I’m not going to lie, I’m finding it hard. Work at the moment, is to be perfectly honest, a massive drain on my mental resources, and watching people and their behaviours is troublesome.

The other day, on a ride I had a guy launch a tirade of abuse, because I didn’t say thank you for him stopping and letting me through a gate. He was on the phone, and headed off to my right into a car park, out of my vision. I just thought he was just stopping to do his phone call. It wasn’t until I was about 15 yards away he started ranting about manners. I just rode off, as I wasn’t in the frame of mind to deal with him.

Work is a nightmare, having to get ready for limited reopening, after dealing with a nightmare series of events for online ordering. I’m really not looking forward to the store reopening, let alone dealing with the great British public, and with 70% of the workforce furloughed the work is tiresome and mentally draining.

But my bike has been my saviour. But with a horrible clicking noise I couldn’t pin down. Not surprising since it’s been in the garage, unused and forgotten since the back end of October. So, a little maintenance was obviously in order.

However, I got a little carried away, and broke the bike down to frame level, cleaned and checked each and every component. Jockey wheels removed, cleaned and oiled, derailleur front and rear cleaned and re indexed, both wheels dismantled cleaned, regreased and retensioned. Front chainrings removed, cleaned and bottom bracket replaced with the superb Hope bottom bracket.

So, all in all, a bit of maintenance nirvana. Taking it out for a short ten mile test, no annoying clicks clunks or other noise. Bikes are amazing machines. They are so simple, but they give you so much in return.

So, if your feeling a bit down, like many people in these troublesome times, try a cycle ride. It’s good for the mind, body and soul, and try not to let your work, or lack of it get too you, it’s not the most important thing in your life, don’t let it be.

Night rides

Apart from some minor annoyances, I love riding at night. The light slowly fades, it’s quiet and you get to see more wildlife that normally hides away.

I’ve ridden behind owls flying, I’ve seen badgers and weasels, and of course too many rabbits to count.

If I could change one thing though, it’ll be other cyclists and their headlights. I’ve got a powerful front light as some of my local routes are pitch black with no lighting. However, when I see another cyclist, pedestrian or jogger, I put it down to the low setting. No one else seems too, making it hard to judge seperation on very narrow cycle paths.

Grease, anti seize and locktite

Three things you should have, two things you use in certain circumstances, and one you need in exceptional circumstances.

So when to use, and when not to use. Well, it’s not really that complicated. Just slather the grease about and you’ll be golden. However, if like me, you like to play about, anti seize has a valid use. If your the kind of person who assembles things, and don’t plan on taking the apart for awhile, anti seize is your friend. Let’s take pedals as an example, you install pedals, they may never be removed from the cranks for years, if ever over the course of the frames life. Anti seize will stay around for a longer period of time than grease, which may wash out over time, or dry out. Anti seize, thanks to its metallic particles will always help prevent galvanic corrosion and jamming up.

So when the time comes to remove those pedals after a few years, you’ve a better chance with anti seize applied. However, if you plan on bike maintenance, with a good schedule, grease is just fine to use. I’d use anti seize on:

  • Pedal spindles
  • Bottom bracket cups
  • Derailleur bolts

That’s it. Quite a narrow use clause for that one. You could quite easily manage without a can of it in the workshop.

My singlespeed, which sees alot less maintenance than my geared bikes tends to see more antiseize than grease. Purely based on the fact it gets taken apart much less.

Thread locker, aka locktite, is used on bolts that you bolts you just can’t afford to come lose. I’ve only ever used it on jockey wheel bolts, where they have almost zero torque, but you can’t risk them falling out. Use it on anybolt you want to lock in. People use it on handle bar bolts, chainring bolts, seat pin bolts and many many others. Just use the blue coloured one. The red is too strong for use on bikes.

So grease, grease is your friend with bike maintenance. Use it wherever you have metal on metal contact, be it screw, slide or rotate. Unless you have a need for anti seize, or locktite, grease will do.