Ongoing Back pain

The back pain saga continues. The last week, it’s been almost unbearable. When it starts I can barely get 2 miles before I have to stop and stretch it out.

I’ve played with saddle setback and height, neither seemed to help in any great way. So I’m going to try a change in stem length to see if I’m too cramped on the bike. I’ve ordered a set of 80,100 and 110mm stems to try. Hopefully, an extra 10mm will help.

Currently I’m running a 90mm stem. So maybe that extra reach might put my back in a better line. I do also need to lose some weight, and improve my core.

There was a time where my right leg would get tired quicker than my left, so maybe I’ve started to compensate with out realising for a leg length issue. When I was in speedplay cleats, I had to install a wedge in the shoe to avoid foot pain. So I guess there maybe more issues to work out than just stem length.

But let’s wait and see how a different stem feels and go from there.

Pedals make the man

For a long time I’ve been an avid speed play user,but my love affair with then has slowly wained. There are a few reasons for this.

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First off, maintenance. Speed play pedals are quite maintenance heavy in keeping the cleats clean and lubricated, to lubricate the pedal bodies with grease. This isn’t a major issue, but one that started to bug me as I started to lose interest. Interestingly, the maintenance issue showed the wear on the pedal bodies with grease leaking out from wear points.

I also found myself having to constantly clean out the cleats, as they would very easily clog up.

Now we move on to one of the biggest issues, cost. A pair of speed play cleats is just shy of £50, for the walk able cleats. That’s a lot of cash. While the cleats do last a long time, it’s still a outlay I have to cut back on. With the Yellow Shimano cleats costing around £12, less if you shop about its a cost winner.

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So, out came the pedal wrench, and off come the speed plays. I had a pair of unused R550’s kicking around in the parts bin so put them on. I had previously tried a pair of look keo’s and absolutely hated them, they where, in part, my reason to move into speedplay so my thoughts on going back to SL pedals where grim.

However, the first ride with the R550’s where an absolute revelation. They where comfortable, I was clipping in reasonably easily. In fact, I’d say I was finding them more comfortable than the speedplay. Maybe due to the wider platform, which to me was immediately noticeable. I’d used an older pair of shoes with out any inserts or special foot-beds, and I’d not thought about my feet for a short 10 mile ride. Clipping in was easier, maybe as I had got used to the action of finding the pedal on the opposite down stroke, or the fact the pedal is larger than the Look Keo. Unclipping took more force than the speedplay, possibly due to newer mechanisms. I had put on the cleats, on a reasonably neutral position, and it was comfortable without any tweaks, I felt like I wanted to slightly rotate the cleat, but the position was fine as was. This was in stark contrast to the Look Keo cleats, which made my knees ache. Perhaps it was due to having more knowledge of cleat position than when I had the Keos, but that has always stuck in my mind and has forever ruled out the Keos again.

So, apart from hill starts which I still find quite difficult, I actually enjoyed using the new pedals, and in all honesty will strongly consider them to replace the speedplay.

Muc Off Bio Grease

I recently picked up a tube of the Bio Grease, and had high hopes for it.

Being an avid user of Muc-Offs chain lubricants, using them all over the bike and SpeedPlays my expectation of this grease was great. However in practice, it’s really a sub par grease.

I’d used it when rebuilding my front hub, and after a short time, the hub had developed a really annoying squeak, and I really hate any odd noise on my bike. So, back at home I took the wheel apart to find out what this offensive squeal was. The Bio Grease I had used in the hub had gone a really light pink colour, and just looked wrong, wiping it off the surfaces, it was incredibly thin. Alot thinner than it should of been. It had obviously soaked up a load of water.

So cleaned that out and replaced with the good old crystal grease. Squeak gone.

So, the bio grease has been placed at the back of the shelf, destined to be forgotten about in time.

Grinds my gears

There isn’t alot that gets me riled up when I’m riding my bike, but pedestrians and joggers wearing earphones right in the middle of a shared use path do.

I do sometimes ride with earphones in myself, but at a level where I can hear what’s around me, and I don’t use isolation headphones. I can hold a conversation when they are in my ears and playing. I find myself looking around more too.

Most joggers with earphones, tend to stay at one side of the path, which is fine, but those that stay plonked right in the middle and are completly deaf to a bike bell and several “excuse me” shouts of increasing volume are the absolute worst. I’m all for sharing the path, I always thank people when I pass, I’m always polite when asking to get passed. But these earphone wearing zombies are really annoying. At least it’s better than when the pokemon craze was in full swing.

If your jogging with earphones, either listen out for traffic, or stay to the side of the path.

Wheel Service

Having to replace my wheel bearings in my Fulcrum Quattro wheels, I thought I’d just take a quick post on the process.

Front wheel

The front wheel, is of course the easiest of the pair todo.

  1. Remove end caps. These just pull out, but can be an absolute arse to pull out.
  2. Remove the tension collar, and the small metal washer that sits under it
  3. Pull out the axle from the wheel.

Now, check the wheel spin, and look at the bearings. Check the space behind, and confirm you have room to drive it out.

Place the wheel hub on a block of wood, and drift out the bearing from its seat. Do the same for the other side.

Give the bearing seat a good clean out with a degreaser rag.

Now, to reseat the bearings, I use a Rapid Racer bearing set. The two bearings used in the hubs are 6903 sized. So mount up the bearings in your press, grease them up, and gently drive them home until they stop. Don’t force them, just drive until they stop.

Clean off the axle, apply grease to the races and a small amount smeared over the rest of the axle and reassemble. Don’t forget the small metal washer under the locking ring.

Adjust the locking ring just enough to insure the axle dos’nt move side to side. Don’t over tighten.

Push the end caps back on (you can give the o rings on these a light grease coat, just to make them easier to remove in future)

And your done.

Rear Wheel.

On the rear wheel, it’s normally the left bearing that goes bad, as the right is well protected by the freehub, but its always a good idea to replace them all at the same time.

You’ll need a few extra tools for this wheel.

  • 5mm Allen key
  • 17mm spanner
  • C-clip pliers.
  • 6803 bearing press.
  • Chain whip
  • Lock ring tool
  • Grease gun.

Start off by removing the cassette, and give the whole freehub a good wipe down. This is a dirty hub, so clean all the wheel as you have access to it.

Insert the 5mm Allen key into the non drive side, and the 17mm spanner onto the drive side.

The left hand end cap is standard thread, but damn tight. Once that caps off, remove the locking collar, and again mind the small metal washer.

Pull the full freehub and axel out of the wheel. The pawls should be quite secure on the freehub, but just be careful they don’t fall.

Now, using the worktop, insert the 5mm Allan key and use it against the worktop to stop the freehub moving as you apply torque from the 17mm spanner to remove the freehub nut. Remove the nut and the spacer behind it.

The axle should now pull out of the freehub.

Replace the hub shell bearings in the rear wheel the same as the front. These again, are size 6903 sized.

The fun start with the bearings in the freehub. 🙂

Make sure you have a rag nearby to clean up with, as this is messy.

First drift out the outer most bearing, you’ll need to push the metal sleeve to one side to get access for the drift. Once out, remove the metal sleeve and clean out the freehub shell of the horrible milky white grease. Look inside the freehub, and you’ll see the inner bearing, it is however secured by a c clip on the inner. So, remove that c clip with your pliers and you’ll be able to drive that bearing out of it’s initial race. Now ensure the bearing hasn’t flipped over in the hub and carefully drive it past the outer race too.

Give the whole shell and pawls a really good clean with degreaser, and leave to dry. While that’s drying off, clean your work station and other parts that are greasy.

Now that’s all clean and dry, get your bearing press ready. The freehub takes bearings that are 6803, so mount one up in the bearing and pregrease. Drive the first bearing down past the first bearing seat, and continue down until it is seated just under the groove the c clip sits in.

Add a little more grease to the bearing top, and insert the clip back into its seat and ensure its seated.

Now, grease it all up, add loads of grease into the freehub shell. Just add it in, don’t skimp.

Reinsert the metal spacer, and line up the outer bearing on your press. Two turns on the press, remove it and check the bearing, if it’s not quite flush, give it a quarter turn and check again.

Inject grease into the pawl seats. Some people don’t like grease in the pawls due to a belief it clogs up the pawls and causes them not to seat correctly. All I can say, is that I’ve never had and issue. But feel free to leave them with a light coat, or a heavy(ish) oil.

Reassemble the axle and end cap on the non drive side, place the freehub back onto the axle and secure it using the metal spacer and nut.

Test spin the wheel. It will feel a little draggy initially while the bearings wear in, and the grease distributes. If the hub is too loud, remove the freehub, and add some grease to the toothed ring. It’ll quieten down for a whole at least.

Make sure the end cap and freehub nut are tight, and clean up. Your done..