Archive for the ‘Repair’ Category

Back to all steel

November 7, 2016

New Saso steel fork, left, and the old carbon fiber put out to pasture.

New Saso steel fork, left, and the old carbon fiber put out to pasture.

For the past six years I’ve been riding a carbon-fiber fork, but that ended today when I installed my new steel fork, built by Dale Saso. I painted it.

I’m not knocking carbon fiber. It’s a reliable material used extensively by the aerospace and aeronautics industry, so you know it’s going to hold up.

Carbon-fiber forks have broken though. I’ve come across a handful of reports in discussion groups and a friend knows a doctor who works in the Stanford hospital emergency room.

Of course, steel forks break too. Usually you get a warning in the form of creaking sounds. I know that’s not always true for carbon-fiber forks. They can fail without warning.

I worried about the possibility on my ride, so I did the only thing I could think of to put that concern to rest.

I got other benefits too — plenty of tire clearance and no more annoying lawyer lips on the dropouts. Those are little irritants that build up over time, like saddle sores.

Bike weight increased by 11 ounces, not a big deal. As for handling, I don’t notice any difference, but I can tell that my smaller Ritchey is a little more front-wheel sensitive riding no-hands compared to my larger Saso frame. That’s all due to frame size.

As you get old, you think about these things, at a time when it doesn’t matter so much anymore. Funny how that works.

Ultegra Cassette lasts 25,000 miles

May 2, 2016

Cassettes wear out eventually. Small cogs go first.

Cassettes wear out eventually. Small cogs go first.

Inquiring minds want to know: How long will my freewheel cassette last? How about 25,000 miles?

That’s what I got from my Ultegra 6700. Here are some caveats:

1. Cleaned the chain regularly, like every 500 miles.

2. Rode mostly on pavement, only about 2 percent off-road.

3. Replaced the chains between 0.5 and 0.75 on the Park chain-wear measurement tool.

So how do you know when your cassette sprockets are worn? The chain skips or catches sometimes; you feel the occasional slip when starting up. Note that when a chain is worn, front chainwheel shifting degrades.

Track your miles. I can’t imagine a cassette lasting more miles than what I got from mine.

Once again, I got about 6,500 miles [WRONG. I SWITCH CHAINS. I GOT ABOUT 3,500 MILES] from Ultegra 6600/6701 chains. I could not detect any difference between the models in terms of longevity or shifting.

Unless you break a sprocket, I wouldn’t bother trying to save money by swapping out the smaller or worn cogs. I replaced only the sprockets, not the body. It’s running smoothly.

Finally, my Ultegra brake pads lasted about 25,000 miles as well. I moved the back to the front to extend life. I still have the originals on the back, so more than 25,000 miles with careful management. Of course, I ride where there are a lot of hills, so these pads could last longer.

Marine vinyl saddle cover going strong

March 1, 2016

A year later my marine vinyl saddle cover is holding up great.

A year later my marine vinyl saddle cover is holding up great.

That marine vinyl seat cover I installed one year ago on my old Avocet Gelflex saddle is holding up great.

I added a touch of Super glue to the cover edges where it was a bit loose and that seemed to help.

The vinyl conformed to the Gelflex by developing tiny indentations. It looks neat.

The vinyl looks like new.

About this time I also developed a creak where the seat rails go into the saddle. I drilled a small hole into the plastic anchor where the rails insert and added some Super glue to quiet the creak. It stayed silent for almost a year. Now the creak is back. I added some more Super glue, but this time it’s still creaking a bit.

I’ll have to think of other ways to quell the creak so I can continue riding my 30-year-old saddle, the most comfortable saddle I’ve ridden.

Follow up (March 2): As it turns out, the seatpost needed more grease. The issue was with the seatpost, not the saddle. So the saddle remains quiet, thanks to Super glue.

Bearing down on yet another creak!

September 3, 2015

Be sure to remove the clear cellophane cover on the Rema patch, or else.

Be sure to remove the clear cellophane cover on the Rema patch, or else.

What does it take to get a break these days? I’ve been riding a bike for about 10,000 moons and counting and I’ve never had such a run of bizarre creaks. Enough already.

I had an ongoing noise that sounded EXACTLY like ball bearings clattering with each wheel rotation. Or at least that’s how I imagined ball bearings would sound when clattering.

I went so far as to buy a new front hub in pursuit of the phantom noise. I figured that the dimpled race was at fault. It fixed the problem, so I thought, but the sound came back.

I can put up with the occasional noise, but when it happens with every wheel rotation, the annoyance factor goes through the roof.

Finally, today I looked at the rear wheel, figuring it was a bad rear seal that’s bent. I’m always attributing my issues to something complicated.

Well, after removing the wheel I decided to press down on it. As I went around I found the source of the creak. It was one spot. Odd.

So I oiled the spoke nipples and spoke cross overs. Hey, you never know.

Anyway, that didn’t fix it, so I took off the tire and tube. I haven’t had a flat in AGES, thanks to these bullet-proof Continental Grand Sport Race tires.

I noticed I hadn’t bothered to remove the cellophane cover on a Rema patch. It’s an innocuous piece of plastic that can be difficult to remove, so I left it.

That was my undoing! I removed it and put the tire back on. Yes, that was the problem. No more clatter. Lesson learned, the hard way.

Freehub upkeep needed for Ultegra FH-6700

August 10, 2015

A new Shimano freehub includes a ring spacer, body and threaded barrel where the Allen key fits. Lower race with rubber O-ring shown.

A new Shimano freehub includes a ring spacer, body and threaded barrel where the Allen key fits. Lower race with rubber O-ring shown.

Anything with ball bearings needs maintenance, so don’t forget your Shimano freehub.

The freehub, as it’s called to distinguish it from the traditional freewheel that threads onto the hub, has a total of 50 1/8″ bearings on two races, upper and lower.

The upper race is unavailable for maintenance (bearing replacement) unless you take apart the entire freehub, which is no easy task. RJ the Bike Guy shows you how to do it, if you’re interested. You’ll need a special tool, which he shows you how to make. RJ couldn’t find the specialty removal tool online, nor could I.

Personally, I wouldn’t bother. A new freehub costs about $32.

However, cleaning the freehub can add to its lifespan. That’s an assumption. I can’t prove it, but based on experience with similar situations, I suspect it’s true.

That means removing the freehub from the wheel. You’ll need a 10 mm Allen key. I recommend a socket wrench with a 10 mm fitting because the freehub is usually on tight and you’ll need leverage.

RJ the Bike Guy takes you through the process in his video.

I’m not a fan of using solvents for cleaning, so I use Simple Green, an alkaline aqueous solution that does a great job. Just let it sit for a while, rinse the freehub with water and then dry thoroughly.

Note that while Simple Green is more environmentally friendly than solvents, it should still be disposed of according to hazardous waste rules in your area. Don’t dump used Simple Green filled with bike grease sludge down the drain.

I added some car oil to soak onto the top bearing race and car grease in the lower bearing race before putting back the lower race’s rubber O-ring. Be sure to install the O-ring the way it came out. Instructions show the correct orientation.

My freehub is four years old and has about 24,000 miles. I haven’t noticed any problems and the bearings look fine.

As an aside, I wonder why Shimano would say “Fabrique au Japon” on its packaging? I can only speculate it has to do with France’s law mandating the use of French under the Toubon law passed in 1994.

Instructions include English, Japanese, German, French, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Swedish. Speak some other language? You’re out of luck.

Shimano PD M540 creak an easy fix

July 7, 2015

Shimano PD M540 will creak after about a year of use. Here's how to fix it.

Shimano PD M540 will creak after about a year of use. Here’s how to fix it.

I didn’t realize it the first time I heard creaking sounds coming from my Shimano PD M540 pedals nine months into ownership, but it’s an easy fix.

I’m not accustomed to pedals creaking so quickly, but I guess it’s a feature of this particular pedal.

All you have to do is add grease, and clean out the old grease while you’re at it. That’s what I did and now the pedals are silent.

Clint Gibbs does an excellent job describing how it’s done. I recorded a video about the PD M520 pedal, which requires the special removal tool. The M540 does not need that tool.

You don’t need to unpack the bearings, which I showed in my video. That’s only necessary if the bearings are shot.

I’m disappointed that these pedals creak so quickly, but at least it’s easy to eliminate the annoying noise.

Taming of the saddle creak

April 22, 2015

Super Glue stopped my saddle creak. We'll see how it holds up.

Super Glue stopped my saddle creak. We’ll see how it holds up.

I recently endured 160 miles of saddle creak on a two-day ride. That was enough to drive me to take drastic measures in search of a repair.

I was going to “tame” that creak no matter what, mainly because I like the Avocet Gelflex saddle. I purchased a bottle of Super Glue and set to work. I drilled a 1/8″ hole into the saddle support where the rails meet at the front. They’re encased in plastic. The hole was deep enough that I could see the rails.

I had tried all the other remedies such as cleaning the rails, oiling, and even using a pull tie to brace the rails.

I then drizzled the Super Glue into the hole and didn’t stop until it started coming out of the hole. It was quite a bit of glue.

After letting it sit overnight I put back the saddle and went for a 23-mile ride with a steep climb of 15 percent. Silence!

I thought about using epoxy, but I wasn’t sure it would act enough like a liquid.

We’ll see how it holds up. [Still good after 200 miles] Be sure to cover the hole with tape in case you need to add more glue in the future.

Shimano CN6701 chain lasts about 4,000 miles

April 16, 2015

Shimano 6701 chain lasted about 4,000 miles.

Shimano 6701 chain lasted about 4,000 miles.

I have assiduously cleaned my chains over the past 15 months and now the results are in. Swapping between two chains, cleaning them about once a month, they lasted about 4,000 miles each.

I use the Park chain-wear indicator tool and dump the chain between the 0.5 and 0.75 measurement. I found that the chain only needs a couple hundred miles to go from 0.5 to 0.75. Another interesting observation is that half the chain indicates more wear than the other half.

I use Simple Green to clean the chains. After removal I put it into a wide-mouth container and shake vigorously, then let sit for a day. I then remove the chain, wash it off with water and sun-dry.

For lubricant I am currently using ProLink ProGold. Before that I used Finish Line Dry. The ProLink seems to hold up a little better over the miles (doesn’t need more lubrication), but it’s not a big difference.

The days of using car oil are over; these fancy Shimano chains require a teflon-like lubricant that can penetrate the narrow gaps.

My Shimano Ultegra freewheel is still working well after three years and five months, about 22,000 miles. As soon as I start having chain skip, I’ll replace it.

New life for old Avocet Gelflex saddle

March 25, 2015

Avocet Gelflex saddle gets a new life with a marine vinyl cover.

Avocet Gelflex saddle gets a new life with a marine vinyl cover.

One of the best bike saddles ever made, the Avocet Gelflex, had one drawback: its flimsy nylon cover didn’t last long.

Today it’s difficult to find a plain nylon saddle cover to go over the Gelflex, so I checked around and found instructions for using marine vinyl to recover a saddle.

The Instructables website “how to” article took me through step by step. It’s a great description, even if I did botch the job.

I’ll share my experience here and give some hard-learned advice.

First, I purchased the marine vinyl at a local fabric shop. It comes in a set width, which was wide enough for a saddle cover, so all you need to do is buy as much as you need in terms of length. I bought a half-yard in anticipation of doing several saddles. The salesperson knew exactly what I was talking about when I mentioned the vinyl. It’s not expensive.

Second, I used a 3M spray glue called Scotch Super 77. It’s an all-purpose adhesive, but maybe isn’t the best spray glue for the job. On reflection I would use a spray that’s meant for “headliner” jobs.

Headliner is a car’s ceiling fabric. Glues made for headliners hold up well in heat and adhere better to the kind of fabrics we’re talking about here.

Third, follow the directions to the letter. I only sprayed one coat on the second spray session, where the sides are glued down the saddle, when two were called for. The result was that the adhesion wasn’t good where your inner thigh touches the saddle.

Fourth, try to make the template as close as possible to the actual size you need. That was a problem with the Gelflex because the saddle cover was almost completely worn away. I had to eyeball it and use the saddle to get an estimate.

However, you don’t want to cut the cover too small, because there is no recovery from such a mistake.

Fifth, the stapling is difficult. I used a hand stapler that usually only works half the time. Sometimes the staple pierced the saddle, other times it didn’t go far enough. I used a different adhesive to glue down the small sections beneath the saddle.

Finally, I had difficulty pulling the vinyl tight so there were no ridges or bumps around the sides. Commercial saddle makers use machines for this step, so don’t expect your saddle will ever come out looking that good.

I’ll give it another try with my second Gelflex saddle and hope for better results. The one I have is functional, but it’s hard to say how long it will last.

[UPDATE (Oct 4, 2015): The saddle cover is still fully functional. No issues.
(April 6, 2017): I destroyed the saddle in the name of research to understand more about how the rails worked.]

Continental Gatorskin rear tire lasts 5,400 miles

November 12, 2014

My Continental Gatorskin  tire lasted 5,400 miles. (Continental photo)

My Continental Gatorskin tire lasted 5,400 miles. (Continental photo)

5,400 miles. That’s how long my Continental Gatorskin 700 x 28 rear tire lasted. Not bad. It saw quite a few miles of dirt too.

I paid $52 for the tire, so it had better last that long. A small amount of cord is showing, so you know it’s time for replacement.

Recently I ran over a large staple and, although it jammed into the rear tire, it did not cause a flat. I stopped after about five seconds and removed the staple, which had not gone in far enough to cause a flat.

I credit some of my good fortune to riding a quality tire.

I still have a Michelin Pro Optimum on the front with the same mileage and it will probably last until I decide it’s time for a new one, usually when the sidewall begins to fray [I took it off a month later because it looked ratty].

Front tires require close attention because if one blows on a fast descent, you could be in trouble.

One word of advice from Continental in its instruction sheet, written in 16 languages, says to toss your tire, tube and rim strip after three years, irrespective of miles ridden.

I guess I’m just too cheap. I’m riding a tire that’s nine years old. It’s on my rain bike. I stored a tire for 28 years before using it. Worked great.

I ride inner tubes until they have so many holes they’re not worth patching, but usually I have to replace them because the tube fails at the valve.

I’m trying out a Continental Grand Sport Race Road tire next. The 700 x 28 version has an actual 28 mm cross-section. Amazing! Check back in 10 months for my report.