View from the bench

One of the things I like to do is just sit for a few minutes and think. And, I thought that this might be a good time to start a “View from the bench” posts, much like my view from the saddle posts. I know it’s sad, but hey, it’s a little something to otherwise fill my time.

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.

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.

Continue reading “Caps and headwear”

The Joys of single speed..

So, for the first time, in quite awhile I took the singlespeed out for a short blast. Mostly to get out the house for awhile.

And, I must say, I bloody enjoyed the short ride. Despite my initial disappointing outlook with the bike, I’m starting to really love it for the short, utility rides. It kind of takes me back to riding as a child.

The fun of the singlespeed, no gears to worry about, just your legs and a simple drive chain.The whole bike just made me smile riding it, it was nice to shed the road bike kit, not worry about the cycle computer whinging of average speed. To just enjoy the bike, and that’s, ultimately all it boils down too.

The new DMR pedals I had installed, worked brilliantly, my feet where never going to slip, given the pins where digging right into my shoes, and the size of the pedals are pretty much perfect. I felt comfortable getting out of the saddle to put power down, and get the bike upto a decent speed.

The day after, I went a bit further on it, basically down the cycle path to ripley and back, a good 8 miles. The bike was hard work, but not unmanageable, and again, enjoyed every minute of it. Every lump, every uphill. I guess it’ll make me stronger at any rate.

Pain free!

As you’ll know, if you read this, I’ve often suffered with pain on the bike. However, that may now be a thing of the past.

I’d made a couple of changes to my position, lowered the saddle until it was clearly too low and moved it back up in increments until it felt just right. I also moved the saddle forward in the rails to compensate for the lowered position. The stem replaced down to 90mm, with a 7 degree rise. I also changed the bars from a 44cm to a 42. The bar is more of a compact than my fizik cyrano bars. The difference was incredible. I felt a hell of a lot more comfortable, my shoulders weren’t bunched up, a bend in my elbows. My knees are a little close to the bar ends, but I can cope with that.

4 miles in, no pain and my wattage was up and cadence had increased. 4 miles back home, and just the regular sore thighs because I’m fat and unfit. But non of that crippling upper thigh pain.

A few more rides just to be sure, but I’m fairly confident that these changes might of worked.

First ride for ages

It’s been awhile since I had the old boy out the garage for a ride.

But today was the day for it. I got changed, checked all the batteries, and set off. Just a short run out to Ripley. My backside was aching quite quickly. Guess I’m going to have to get used to sitting in a saddle again. I felt every pedal stroke. It seemed like an effort, more so than I remember. I guess my fitness really has dropped off. For some odd reason, my fingers would not recognise the fact I’m using a wahoo elemnt computer, and kept trying to use the button presses for a Garmin. I’ve not used a Garmin for years. Weird how muscle memory works.

And my old friend thigh pain hit again as I was climbing the small hill into Ripley. Well, I say thigh, it’s more hip than anything else. I’ve lowered the saddle from where I had it, so let’s see if that makes any difference. I hope so, because it’s a crippling pain.

You’ll notice the new See.sense Ace lights. I’m still waiting for a half decent Android app for these lights. It’s been a long long time in the process. Truth be told, I’m not overly impressed with them. But I guess that’s another story for a post I’ve been meaning to write for awhile.

On the way home, I was unfortunately reminded some people’s driving leaves a lot to be desired, with people pulling out of side streets, left hooks and close passes. But alas, I’m not surprised.

Tools. Wonderful Tools

Over the last few years, my tool collection has ballooned massively, so I thought I might make a quick post on tools, and which are important to have, and those that are helpful, but not a nessesity for the home mechanic.

Tools, that are important

  1. Allan Keys. These are probably the most important item you can have. Each time you work on the bike, you’ll be using an hex wrench. Generally, you’ll need 4,5 and 6mm for the majority of bike stuff. For cartridge brake pads, you’ll need a small 3mm too. Most sets of hex wrenches will have every size you’ll ever need.
  2. Cable cutters. Wire cutters and pliers just won’t do for bike cables, unless your just trying to mash the cable! Cable cutters will neatly cut the cables and housings. A metal file is also handy to square off the housing ends after cutting too.
  3. Chain tools. Chain cutter, chain wear tool,chain whip and cassette lock ring tool
  4. Bottom bracket tool, and crank removal tool.
  5. Torque wrench
  6. Pedal spanner
  7. Torx wrenches (a T25 is likly to be the only one)
  8. Screw drivers.
  9. Tire levers
  10. Floor pump
  11. Grease, paper towels
  12. Degreaser, GT85 and WD 40

Tools, nice to have

  1. Spirit level, long handy to have for saddle adjustments, and ensuring shifters are level..
  2. Tape measure
  3. Bearing press.
  4. Picks
  5. Grease gun
  6. Sockets
  7. Ratchet spanner
  8. Spring clip pliers
Bike Repair Stand

If you’re planning on doing even the most basic bike repair maintenance, don’t underestimate the importance of a quality repair stand. Yes, they can be a little expensive and yes, they take up a little room in the garage. That said, a quality stand will save you from a lifetime of turning your bike upside down and bending over to make repairs and adjustments.

Another learning curve.

So I had my bike up in the workstand cleaning the gunk after the very, very wet ride I had earlier. In the lower gears, the chain jumped off the lower jockey wheel, jamming between the jockey and cage.

Not being quite sure what was causing it I started to look into it. I initially didn’t think it could be Todo with the wet ride so I looked at the jockey, not worn, so cleaned it off and ensured it still spun freely. Put it back on and the same thing happened. Ok, perhaps the derailleur cage is bent. Nope, that was fine, so check the hangar, that’s perfectly straight.

Could it be the chain? Time to break out the chain cleaner. A good scrubbing of the chain, and bingo, no skipping off the jockey. So all I can think of is that some filth had worked into a chain link causing it to be skipping off the jockey.