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.

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.

Brakes and cleaning

After a few rides, especially after a series of wet rides, your wheel brake surface will be covered in a black gunge, it’s a good idea to do some maintenance on them after.

In order to keep your rims working well, and wear down, clean off the surface of the brake track with hot soapy water. Then, get a cloth and some isopropyl alcohol, and wipe them down. You’ll be amazed at how much more gunk comes off.

Now, with the wheels off the bike, give the brake pads a look. Look for any embedded metal fragments, and pick them out with a sharp pick. Wipe them down with the alcohol, and if they look glazed, or smooth just take a file or sandpaper and rub them down. Also, while your here it’s a good chance to check just how worn they are.

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.

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.

MucOff Bio Grease

I’d previously written about mucoff BioGrease, and I wasn’t impressed at the time. I’ve decided to give it a bit more of a chance. Previously I’d used it in the wheels, and it went south pretty quick.

This may of been due to the high spin speeds on the hub, the BioGrease is more designed for low rpm high sheer, such as headsets and bottom brackets. So, from here on, threads and headsets will be slathered in BioGrease, and the wheel rebuilds will be the stinky, incredibly tacky blue, which works well in high revolutions applications. So let’s see how it handles the dry summer months.

But don’t forget, any grease is better than no grease, use what you have on hand, and enjoy the maintenance of your bikes as much as riding them. After all, your bike gives you a lot, give it something back!

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.