Disaster Strikes!

I was well and truly blessed by mechanicals on my latest ride. I barley got 4 miles, in the pouring rain, and felt a thumping from the rear wheel. OK, I think that may be a puncture. Yup. The tyre was getting softer by the second.

So a push to the nearest bench, and a repair put in place. But, it was’nt to be. My CO2 cannister leaked out, and it was the only one I was carting around. So, removed the chuck from the valve, and the curse of the Continental inner tube struck. The whole valve assembly had come off in the chuck.

Ah well, cue a phone call for a delivery of CO2 Cannisters, so I could try again. Managed to get the valve core out the chuck, and put it back in as tight as I could. Trying the second cannister, it too leaked. The valve also came out again, and this time, I couldn’t get it out the chuck. Loaded the bike into the back of the car, and sheepishly got a lift home.

Back at home, I applied Locktite to the valve core and tightened it stupid tight. No way that’s coming out again. Lesson learned, always tighten Continental tubes well before they are needed.

Inflated the tyre, and then I saw it. A gash, deep into the tyre. Thats a write off then. It was impossible to see until the tyre was inflated to pressure.

Time to start looking at tyres. The Rubino Pro tyres I had been using, are good general tyres, not fast, but pretty sure footed and grippy. I looked at Vittoria Corsa, and ruled them out by the reviews I read about them being delicate and fast wearing. I finally settled on the Michelin Pro4 Service Course. Never used Michelin tyres, and I was happy with the reviews I’d read. So looking forward to trying them.

Stupid Strava

So, I rode a route I hadn’t ridden in quite a while yesterday, and was interested to see my timings.

On one segment, I was beating my previous time by about 10 seconds, until the end of the segment, where the time ahead started to drift back down. And much to my surprise, I finished at exactly the same time as the previous PB. But when I looked on Strava, the times, where exact for each of my efforts over the years. What are the chances of that?

7 Minutes and 38 seconds, and its the slight uphill at the end of the segment that kills it for me. So, I need to try harder!

Using the compare tool on the segment page, I’m able too see I was faster all the way down to the base of the hill, then that gap really started to close in on me, before the lead just went.

I’ll keep trying the segment, and now I’m loosing more weight, I’m sure given time and effort I’ll be able to pull it back down to under my current PB.

The Single speed bike is badly unwell. A few spokes started to come loose, and pinging while riding, which also kicked the wheel out of true. Like a proper idiot, I tightened the spokes without thinking, and of course made the wheel a damn sight worse than it was. These are horrible wheels that came stock with the bike, and with a non removable freewheel. So instead of wasting time and effort on properly truing the wheels, I just decided to replace them and be done with it. A quick trip over to Santa Fixie, and a wheelset was ordered. Nothing special, but better and lighter than what I have. Maybe one day, I’ll buy a wheel truing stand, but I don’t have much, or any need for it apart from these cheap Chinese wheels. But I might save them for learning how to true and wheel build, which to me at least, is a dark art.

Single Speed Pedals

Cheap as Chips

Tired of these shitty pedals that came with my single speed, so a quick trip over to Wiggle, and I purchased a set of DMR V12’s.

I don’t need anything special, but for the money, the DMR pedals are ideal. Large platform, grippy and long lasting. That’s all I need, and no doubt the pedals will likely outlast this bike. We shall see what they are like when I take the bike off for a trip to town on Wednesd

Rock ‘n’ Roll

Sometime ago I wrote about trying Rock ‘n’ Roll Gold lube. I did try it, and its an odd lube to use. Its advertised as a cleaner as much as a lubricant. When using it, I found it didn’t last as long as my favourite dry Lube, Squirt.

You literally douse the chain at the cassette with this stuff, you don’t skimp with it, really soak the chain. Once you get over the strong petroleum smell, you run the chain backwards, while wiping. The solvents in the lube penetrate the links in the chain, causing any muck to raise up and get wiped off.

Keep doing this until you have a clean chain. Then reapply to get the lubricant in. Its a long winded job. The instructions do say it will remove other lubes, but I would still suggest a full clean and degrease before application. No doubt it will remove lubes from the same manufacturer, however more stubborn lubes will need a full clean.

The formulation goes deep down into the chain and traps any dirt. Then, with the energy of the chain freewheeling backwards, the dirt and grit floats to the surface so you can wipe it all off, leaving a new and clean application of lube inside the chain, where it’s needed. The lube down inside the chain creates a protective membrane to seal out dirt and moisture from the moving parts of the chain. As well as holding in place the best lube on the planet, for longer chain life, super smooth shifting and pedaling.

http://www.rocklube.com/about-us.html

But, once I was happy the chain was at least lubricated I went out on a ride. To me at least, the chain was noisy, and the lube didn’t last that long. Perhaps with more applications and time it’ll prove its self a bit better.

You never know, I might give it another chance when I clean off the drive chain next time and see what happens.

Clicky Click

On the last few rides I noticed a click, a metallic click that only happened when I was out of the saddle. So, out on the road, I made sure that the cable ends where not clicking or catching on my shoes, they weren’t.

The noise sounded like it was from the rear of the bike. Don’t let this fool you though, bike noises can travel through the frame and be somewhere else completely.

I knew however, the likely cause was the chainring bolts, as I’d recently replaced the chainrings.

So, tightening this bolt up to the recommended torque of 7nm, and noise stopped.

However if you don’t know what is causing the noise, just work methodically, push and pull things like your cranks, ensure bolts are done up to torque, and greased, check for play in bearings. Spin cranks backwards while looking for jumps in the rear derailleur, You’ll find it eventually.

Ovals..


In my last post, I said how I was wanting to try oval chain rings. Well, due to good fortune, I’ve come by some.

Absolute Black Chainrings

So, I stripped down the chainrings, threw out the knackered shimano bolts, and installed the new rings, with a helping of anti seize paste on both parts of the bolt. Just watch out for this stuff, a tiny spot on the fingers, and your finding spots of it all over for months. It’s really tenacious stuff.

Fitting them onto the bike, it’s noticeable just how odd they appear. They where easy to install however. I hadn’t changed the gearing, sticking with the same 50/34 the bikes always had. Installation meant I had to move the front derailleur up, to account for the greater height of the large ring. The official installations have instructions to fanny about with the limit screws. I didn’t have to touch those. I raised the derailleur, ensured the cage was parallel with the ring and then set the cable tension, ensuring the gaps were correct.

Testing the shifting, it was absolutely fine, didn’t drop or over shift, and each change happened as expected.

The first few rides, I never really felt any difference in the pedals, but a few rides, I started to notice a couple of things. Firstly, I was riding higher in the cassette (smaller cogs) because my cadence had shot up, to get my favoured RPM, I’d had to start using gears well up the cassette. This meant that I’ve also started to use the larger chainring a lot more than I ever have.

“Our Oval chainrings work because a rider does not produce power evenly through a pedal stroke; they maximize the part of the stroke where power is produced and minimize resistance where it isn’t. Oval rings make the spin cycle a lot smoother and are easier on legs while climbing. Believe it (or not), but a round chainring doesn’t transfer torque to your rear wheel as smoothly as an Oval one. You will actually feel your stroke to be more “round” with an Oval shape than with a round chainring.”

absoluteBLACK

Secondly, I was rotating the cranks easier, and for longer. I found it a lot easier to just keep going. Coasting was down and out. This may be down to the fact it feels smoother, less forced as that “Dead Zone” is overcome with the oval.

Graph showing values after oval chainrings installed.

You can see in the graph above, cadence is constant, speed and power are levelling out. It just seems easier to keep going. When sprinting, the power just seems more urgent, and direct.

Don’t get me wrong, these chainrings are not going to change you into Bradley Wiggins overnight, but they do, clearly make a difference, to me at least. I’d recommend, if you need to change worn chainrings, give them a try and see if they are for you. One of the drawbacks, I’ve noticed a few people looking, and noticing this weird wobbling thing. 😏

Its Dead Jim

Unfortunately, I have had a string of issues with the bike, which means its off road until parts arrive.

Recently, I replaced the chain and cassette, but on subsequent rides, the noise from the chainrings was a steady grind and occasional clank as the chain struggled to mount the teeth. It appears the inner chain ring is worn off the old chain. Strangly, its almost two years to the day I last replaced it. Now, removing the chainbolts, two sheared off when placing back into the crank. So not only have I to replace the worn chainring, I now have to source 4 crank bolts. Ah well.

I had been looking at getting Absolute Black chain rings, but money is very tight at the moment, so I’ll stick with the standard Shimano internal ring. ChainReaction where wanting about £20 for a ring, but as I was looking round, bike-discount.de was offering them at about €8. So that was a no brainer. The crank bolts however, are stupid expensive. EBay was the cheapest I could find, at about £25 for the 4.

As the Ultegra crankset is no longer produced, and I have no desire to install the new 8000 series, and its dérailleur, I might just go with the Absolute Black once the outer chainring wear becomes an issue.

Chain woes

Recently, I decided to replace both the chain and cassette on my bike. The chain was worn, it could be lifted off the large chainring, and thought I’d do the cassette at the same time as it too had worn.

I didn’t however check the chain ring. I’d last changed the inner ring back in 2017. Now, almost to the day, it’s needing changed again. I immediately recognised the sound, but it wasn’t as bad as last time, but the same grind noise I heard back then, so realised the chain ring was clearly on the way out.

Riding, gives a distinct metallic scraping noise from the front chain rings and looking at the teeth you can see a wear pattern. The new chain has trouble meshing with the wear, giving a scrape as it tries to settle in.

So, it might get better as the chain beds in, but I’ll change the ring.

A good clean out of the bikes drive chain and a new bottom bracket, as you might as well while your crankset is off.

More Single Speed Fun

So, I’ve used the single speed a few times now to go down to work and back. Good lord, its hard work on hills with just a single 16 tooth cog!

There have been a few issues, the main one, was the left hand crank unmounted its self and went a little rounded out. The bolt had worked loose and came away, causing the crank to come off the bottom bracket spindle. Because of the cheap Chinese metal it had rounded out part of the mount in the crank.

A good battering with a hammer, and it was back on, the bolt torqued well over spec to hold it in. I’m not sure if getting it off will be an issue, but brute force may see it shifted if the crank puller has any issues.

Then, a day later, I thought I saw a little play in the handle bars, so I stopped and had a look, yup, play. The stem face plate bolts had loosened off the stem, so tightened them back up too.

So, I’ve ordered a new Crank set from SantaFixie to replace the damaged one, and I also have a full set of brakes from Tektro to fit too. These will replace the downright dangerous ones supplied as stock on the bike. The stock ones are awful in the dry, and downright dangerous in the wet. The calipers have way to much flex in the arms to apply any decent pressure on the rims, and the rear isn’t even able to contact the brake track. I’m not sure of the makes of the pads, but I am assuming they too are penny purchases. So, the Tektro brakes, while not a top end brake set, will be noticeable difference to the braking I hope. I might at some point replace the brake levers too, but that’s not an urgent need.

Riding the bike is nice enough though, the bike is easy enough to ride once its up to speed, and comfortable. Its a good flat bike, but because of my fitness issues, I do really miss the gears on the hills. Still, it makes me appreciate my proper road bike all the more. I can live with the front mudguard rubbing slightly, I can live with the weight of the bike. The issues I’ve had with the bike can be overcome with a little work and part replacements. So all in all its not a bad bike, just built to a cost point. I think I’m going to liberal with the loctite on this bike in future..

Brake the speed.

A recent post I responded to recently, prompted this entry. That post was a simple brake sticking enquiry.

For the love of whichever deity you choose, do not, and I repeat, do not, disassemble a break calliper. The spring tension that gets released when you dismantle it, will send various washers and springs flying all over your garage. If you manage to find all the parts again, you’ll have issues with keyed washers, roller bearings and springs when reassembling.

So, my process of fixing a sticky calliper is quite easy. I’ll assume you’ve already tried the calliper without the cable attached. Most of the time, it will be down to old worn cables and cable housing. Note that I’m doing a dual pivot calliper here, no single pivot, cantilever or disc brakes. I might however cover those in another post sometime in the future.

What you’ll need

  • 5mm Allen key (for the majority of nutless brakes)
  • Rags
  • GT85 or similar cleaning spray
  • Good quality thick chain oil
  • Toothbrush or stiff brush

So, first off, remove the calliper from the bike to work on it. Remove the brake blocks and store them away from where you working, as you don’t want to contaminate them.

Now squeeze together the arms, and look down the middle from the side, most brake designs will have a roller between the arms, and a pivot on both arms. Your objective is to get all the gunk and general nasties out of the pivots and rollers.

Add the red straw to your spray can, and go to town spraying it into the roller, work the arms. Do the same with the pivots. Wipe it down wit the rags, and scrub it with the toothbrush.

Repeat until the calliper operates a fair bit smoother. When satisfied the brake is working well again, set it aside to dry off.

Now, with clean hands, get hold of the brake blocks, have a look and see if you can see any embedded metal fragments in the block. Use a pick to pick out anything in there. If they are an older block, you may get notice they look a little shiny and glazed. Simply run a file over the top to remove that surface. Reattach the brake blocks to the calliper, making sure you have the left and right blocks on the correct sides. Drip a small amount of lube into the roller and all pivots wiping off any excess on the calliper.

Clean out the brake bolt recess in the frame, clean the hollow bolt and Reattach the calliper to the bike, realign your pads to the rim, and tighten up. You can apply a drip of loctite to the thread if you need, ive never need it and just greased the thread which has been enough.

Jobs done, go and ride and enjoy your enhanced breaking power.