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.

Pedal Service

Pedals are one of the most neglected parts of a bike, they do however need the occasional bit of TLC

Most people fit them, and then just forget about them as they are riding along giving no thought to the job the pedals are doing. Taking all that power, rotating along their bearings until something gives. They can last a fair while if cared for.

The pedals we are servicing here are Shimano PD-550, but these instructions will be suitable for most Shimano SPD-SL pedals

Tools required

  • Good quality grease
  • Shimano Pedal tool
  • Pedal Wrench
  • Plenty of rags, ‘‘tis a messy job this one
  • A pointy object
  • Possibly a small spanner if adjusting bearing play
  • A wrench that fits the pedal tool

So, obviously you need to remove the pedals from the bike. Clean the crank threads while your here.

Now the pedals are off the bike, clean off the pedal bodies, and check for damage and play in the pedal. Now you’ll need to do one pedal at a time to avoid any confusion, so take one pedal and look at the locking collar and you’ll see the words tighten with an arrow. You’ll need to turn the collar opposite to the tighten direction. On a never serviced pedal, this’ll be really tight to turn because Shimano put LOADS of lock thread on the threads.

Now you’ll be able to pull the axle from the pedal body. Everything is on the axle. Shimano don’t do silliness like pressed bearings in the body. Clean off the axle and bearings, rotating each collar working the grease out. If your needing to adjust for play, do it now. We won’t go into that adjustment, but there’s plenty of YouTube videos on how todo it. Stuff a rag into the pedal body and use your pointy object to clean the axle housing.

Now, take your grease, and squeeze a healthy amount into the hole in the pedal body, fill it about half way.

Wipe off the axle to make sure it hasn’t picked up any crud from your workbench and insert it into the body. It might struggle to get back in with the new grease, just gently shove it until you can get the threads to engage.

Using the locking tool, turn in the direction of the tighten arrow on the collar. As your tightening it down, grease is forced up through the bearings and other gubbins on the axle exiting at the top of the collar. It might even fart a few times…

Clean up the leakage, and repeat on the next pedal, noting the threads will be opposite.

Remount the pedals back onto the cranks after greasing the threads. Note that a certain amount of leakage is normal for a few rides as the grease settles down. Also, the pedals will be slow to hang in the right orientation so you might miss a few clips as the grease works through. Apply a drop of lube to the flats and rear clip mechanism. Your good to go with you freshly serviced pedals.

A little rant

I have revelled in some of the silver linings of this grim pandemic, walking in the area and cycling in the glorious countryside of Harrogate, to Almscliffe Crag or Lower Nidderdale, on blissfully quiet country lanes, enjoying the unusually fresh air, the birdsong, and day after day of April sunshine. I’m excited to see many parents out cycling with their children – sometimes little ones who can only recently have learned to cycle – because the roads feel safe, and it’s great when people say that as a result of the lockdown they’ve discovered the joy of walking instead of getting into their car every time they leave home. The two things that spoil our outings are the ubiquitous litter, such as coffee cups and drinks bottles undoubtedly thrown out of vehicle windows, and occasional aggressive drivers and boy racers, who know the chances of getting a ticket are virtually zero.

What will happen after the pandemic? We’ve had this brief taste of a different, calmer and environmentally far better way of living but, whether we want it or not, isn’t it inevitable that once all the factories, shops and schools are open, we will go back to ‘normal’, our roads increasingly congested and air polluted? After all, don’t people have to earn and need to be mobile?

I believe it’s not at all inevitable. We can choose how and where we live and travel, who and what policies we vote for, what kind of society we live in and leave for future generations. There is a massive amount of discussion about all of this going on right now in webinars and online meetings among people including politicians, academics, journalists and others who believe real and rapid change for a sustainable world is not just entirely possible but also essential. The dreadful coronavirus has so far killed over 20,000 in the UK and over 200,000 worldwide. Our destruction of the environment is killing millions of people every year, including from air pollution alone an estimated 64,000 in the UK, and 8.8 million worldwide (Max Planck Institute report, 2019). We’ve made enormous adjustments almost instantly to tackle the virus, we can and must make whatever changes are needed to tackle the climate crisis and pollution.

We can all make a difference by using the car only as a last resort, choosing to fly rarely or not at all, picking up litter, not creating it, considering the environmental impacts of what we buy and consume. In my view, none of this is difficult, it’s just developing a new habit which soon becomes normal.

But it’s the politicians we elect whose decisions are crucial to determine whether we return to the old ‘normal’ or whether the changes for the better caused by the pandemic – the silver linings – become permanent. Some changes will remain in any event. Many people have found they don’t need to travel to the centre of the city every day when they can do much of their work from home, potentially saving companies a fortune on office space. Video conferencing can be a cheaper, greener, more efficient alternative to hundreds or thousands of people flying in for a conference in Switzerland, possibly to discuss the climate crisis! The government says social distancing will be the new normal for a long time to come. What now the justification for spending £106 billion plus on HS2, and billions more on new roads and propping up failing airlines? All should be reassessed from the perspective of the new reality of a post-Covid world.

Across the world hundreds of towns and cities are using the lower volumes of traffic as an opportunity to experiment in reallocating road space away from cars in favour of people on foot and bicycles. Low cost measures are being put in place to create temporary cycle lanes. Rather than just leave car parking spaces empty some authorities are coning them off to increase the area available to and needed by socially distanced pedestrians and cyclists. Cars, which previously packed Brighton’s seafront road, are now banned from using it.

In North Yorkshire green transport campaigners have long argued for this redistribution, for investment in cycling and walking – for health reasons, to reduce noise, and to improve public safety and the public realm generally. The need for social distancing makes the case more unarguable than ever. North Yorkshire County Council, the highways authority, has built no significant new cycle infrastructure in our district for several years while spending hundreds of thousands trying and – thanks to huge efforts by local campaigners – failing, to make the case for a useless relief road between Harrogate and Knaresborough, tinkering with junctions, and on ineffective ‘smart’ traffic lights for example by the Conference Centre, all with aim of catering for more traffic. The Council is spending millions on much needed pothole repairs and points out that this also helps cyclists. It does, but what people want is investment in a first class Dutch standard active travel network, and where cyclists and walkers are the primary, not secondary, beneficiaries. Harrogate Council has made the prospects much worse by producing a disastrous Local Plan which gives a token nod to sustainability while virtually ensuring that residents of the huge new developments west of Harrogate will have to use their cars for almost every journey. As a result, NYCC is spending more money on assessing a new western relief road, which would again solve nothing while destroying even more of our countryside.

So what kind of society will the children live in, the environmentally destructive one we’ve all been used to, or a ‘new normal’, something more like the lockdown without the virus, which puts the emphasis on wellbeing and quality of life, and on protecting our world?

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.

New Wheels!

So I decided to splash out on a new set of hoops, and purchased the Fulcrum Racing 3.

I like Fulcrum wheels, they are sturdy, well built and easy to service. I started with the racing 5, moved onto the Quattro and now on the Racing 5.

A test spin in the hand, and that feeling of buttery smoothness was evident. These wheels have cup and cone bearings, which I prefer as maintenance is slightly easier than the cartridge bearing. The quattros need a bearing change for sure again.

I’m looking forward to putting racing 3 on the bike and having a good 15 mile ride tomorrow..

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.

Caps and headwear

I’ve not really worn a proper cycling cap on my rides. When it’s been cold, I’ve been known to wear a beanie, or my favourite item of clothing, a buff when out. The cycling cap, made popular by the riders of the late 80’s and 90’s, now seen worn by trendy hipsters, has a veritable place in the world of cycling.

But for some bizarre reason, I recently decided on impulse to purchase a couple of caps. So, adding to my collection of cycling apparel, we will see just how useful a cap will be. I can see the peak helping in that horrible driving wind driven rain I often find myself in, as well as the low sun, and as someone who is challenged in the head covering, avoiding that dreaded badgers head look of suntan through the vents.

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