more on the bicycles

Well, I read in Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance that if you have a carbon fork (I do) that shows scraping or loss of integrity (it does), you oughta change out the whole thing, because they have a tendency to fail dramatically, usually just after hitting (for example) a pothole, and just before the rider’s chin hitting the pavement. He also suggests changing out the handlebars regularly; I’ve got five years on mine. And my chain is old, I’ve gotten at least .75% wear, possible 1%, which is where it can start doing damage to the rear cog.

OK. Time to do a LOAD of maintenance on the bikes. I don’t like this whole “carbon forks can break” scenario (my guru and master in the bicycle world has had it happen, and he assures me it’s memorable), so I bought a Surly Pacer steel fork (chromoly, for those who care), and new handlebars… and cables, and a new chain, and tape for the bars. I was assured that I’d be able to remove and re-use the crown race, but the old fork is oddly-shaped, and I munged up the crown race (a bearing that holds the fork in place in the steering tube). So I ordered a new one, and the whole project was on hold for a week waiting for the UPS.

UPS delivered Friday afternoon, and, by bedtime Friday, I had the following:

  • Installed the crown race bearing on the new fork;
  • Measured and cut the head tube on the new fork;
  • Installed the spacers, stem, and handlebars;
  • Moved the front brake to the new fork;
  • Reinstalled the front wheel
  • Recabled the brakes (there’s a neat trick to recabling brakes – there’s probably an easier way to do it, but my way works when you haven’t got all the groovy bike-specific tools; let me know if you’re the least bit interested);
  • Recabled the derailleurs;
  • Installed the new chain;
  • Re-taped the bars.

It was almost perfect… but the chain kept skipping on the rear derailleur. A few moment’s research suggested that I had waited too long to replace the chain, and now needed a new set of rear cogs. So Saturday, off to Kim’s Bikes as an experiment, where they sold me an OEM cog set for not-a-lot-of-money (they’re my new favorite bike shop, until I get cranky with them or somebody else does me an even better favor). Back home, change out the rear cogs… and now it shifts like greased butter.

The ride is a lot more satisfying when I’ve done all the wrenching myself.

I wanted to go on the Tour de Franklin today, but rain and raw weather indicated it would not be much fun (and my muscles were tired – from too much riding, and from the get-up-and-get-down-again occasioned by working on a bicycle without a work stand; I either hang it from hooks in the garage ceiling, or stand it up in a trainer). It’s OK. There will be other days, and other rides.


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