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..

A Pootle Around

I’m not sure why, but my recent 12 mile ride, was quite possibly the one thing that’s really got me wanting to be back on my bike. Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the comfort of the bike, the correct use of the gears, the ease I found it, or maybe it was the look of pure joy on a toddlers face as he sat in front of his father on a mountain bike.

I don’t know what it was, but it’s what cycling does, it makes you forget all your problems and worries. It gives you that feeling of euphoria as the endorphins flood your brain. It’s pure and unaltered fun.

A simple route

The only part of the ride, that I hate, is the initial run down the A61, it’s a fast road, and some cars don’t give you the room you need. I always feel slightly sick while I’m on the road. But it’s a short run until the right hand turn onto Nidd Lane, and not long till your at the entrance to the very posh Nidd Hall Hotel.

Skirting along the wall of the Hotel grounds, it’s almost a mile of quite easy flat, you’d be hard pressed not to get a 16mph average, before you hit the main downhill section as it dips down a tiny valley. Watch your speed, as there is a tight right hand bend. Then, a short sharp whack up, you should be able to carry a lot of speed up the hill, drop the gears and power up the last bit before the flat and back to the ripley roundabouts. But a warning to everyone. The relatively short but fast downhill you can if you push it hit 40, but that corner forces you to lean hard and be quite close to the centreline. There is also a lot of run off in the corner, which leads to a loose gravel surface that you could easy wipe out on. So care is needed.

Then it’s a gentle push back up the cycle path to home. The cycle path is fantastic. Depending on the time of the day, you’ll see Rabbits, weasels, pheasants and all other random animals. Once I had a barn owl fly right in front of me for a good 4 minuites before it got bored of playing that game and veered off. It was one of those magical moments that just make it special.

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.

Pedals..

We all need them, we all have to have them. I started out on the flats, and still use them on my single speed bike. But my road bike needs a little something more. Initially, I went to the mountain bike style, loving the just stomp on pedal and clipped in. But, they started to give me some hotspot pain in the feet where the cleat was causing pressure.

I went full into speed play from SPD, I dabbled with SPD-L for a time, but never really got on with the one side clip in. I could never catch the pedal on the crank stroke, leading to some hairy moments with my foot slipping off. Speed plays solved that for me, with the design of just stepping on the pedal and rotating the crank and boom, clipped in. However, the extreme cost of the speed play, and extreme maintenance needs are a drawback for these pedals. Just shy of £50 for a set of cleats, but admittedly, they are long lasting cleats. Maintenance wise, the cleats need constant cleaning to work correctly, there is no mud exits, and dry lube needs applying on a regular basis both cleat and pedal body.

The pedals need a regular grease injection, which is both messy, fiddly and time consuming. You’d remove the tiny grease port screw, insert a grease gun, (a hideously overpriced gun is off course available from Speedplay) squeeze that in under pressure until fresh grease leaks out of the pedal spindle. My affair with speedplay came fully to an end when they discontinued the “standard” cleat, and only sold the “aero” walkable cleat. I hated that design, and never got on with it. Who needs a walkable cleat? The stupid rubber cover always used to come off, there must be a few of my cleat covers littering the edges of various roads.

So, onto my current pedal, the venerable SPD-SL. the design has been around for so long, pioneered by Look, (whose pedals I’ll never try again).

Mounted them up, and fitted the cleats to the soles of my shoes, and cue much experimenting with positions found a comfortable place on the sole for the cleat. Aligning them was easier than the speed plays, as speedplay is easily the most adjustable pedal for positioning. Basically to get the cleats in a comfortable position, when you don’t have a starting reference, put them in a neutral position, the cleat nose pointing directly forward. Move them around from there until you feel your feet are in a natural position when clipped in. Then ride and make small adjustments based on feel. Once you get that position for both feet right you’ve nailed it. Takes a little time but is easily mastered.

Initially, I again had issues clipping in, but practice makes perfect. I still occasionally have issues, especially on hill starts, but muscle memory is setting in and most times click right in with that satisfying clunk. And the just work, with a larger pedal area, there are no pressures on the feet. Just comfy. Any muck that gets onto the cleat is pushed out when clipping in and short of a quick clean when the bike is being cleaned no extra maintenance is required. Each to their own however, some people swear by speedplays for their massive amount of customisations, some like mountain pedals for ease of walking from the bike shed to work, others just use whatever. Whatever works for the individual I guess.

Feedback Sports App

This is truly an awesome app for those of you into bike maintenance. It’s basically a log for your maintenance. Each component is broken Down, you enter the date, component and work done. This is then searchable. When did you last change your power meter battery? A quick search and your answer is there. You can schedule reminders based on mileage pulled from Strava, or time ridden. Multiple bikes can be tracked.

Available on google play, I’m not sure about iOS as I don’t use it.

There where a few bugs early on, but they’ve mostly ironed out the issues and it’s not a bad app too have on your phone.