Radar

I’ve used Garmins varia radar previously, but didn’t like that blocky look it had. However, you can’t knock the usefulness of the unit in giving you information on what’s happening behind you.

The new radar unit, is more elongated, and slimmer than the original, and to my eye my more pleasing.

In use, it’s great, it gives me an idea of traffic, long before I hear it, with clear and easy to read graphics on my head unit.

There’s not much more to say on the unit that hasn’t already been said, for a much more detailed and in-depth look, be sure to check out DC Rainmakers blog.

New Pedals

So, I’ve had a little upgrade from my Shimano R550 pedals, I’ve gone and installed a pair of Look Blades.

So, initial thoughts on them, is that they are easier to engage into than the Shimano, and oddly more comfortable. But unclipping is another matter. It’s not difficult to unclip, it’s just the range of motion is greater to actually unclip and it seems to throw the foot off, almost in disgust that your unclipping. Any hesitation, or having the cleat near seems to suck the cleat back into the mechanism.

With the Shimano, a kick to the side, and your foot was just on the pedal, ready to put down, but still be able drive forward if needed. Handy for those traffic slow down moments. The blades, a throw from the ankle sees your foot thrown, a more gentle twist, unclip then reclips the cleat.

But in truth, they are a great pedal, and it’ll be time before I’m used to their quirks, but they are on my bike to stay. I might however, fit the tighter blade, as the 12Nm that comes fitted as standard just doesn’t feel tight enough.

I’ve now been riding them for a few months, and occasionally get more clip in fails than I did with the shimano pedals. Wether this is down to lack of skill on my part or the pedal is however up for debate.

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.