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Friday, 28 August 2015

Bike maintenance

Regular readers of this blog know that I love fettling my bike.

Today, a new pannier arrived; I wear them out rather fast. So I decided to spend a couple of hours fettling the bike.

First, I tightened the PDA holder, it had been slipping as I rode. Then on to the big job - gears. For quite a long time now, I've only been about to use six of the seven gears, and that's worse than it sounds, because the gear I've been unable to get to, is the lowest gear, good for going up hills. The problem was that the cable length adjuster had come out of it's socket, and I couldn't get it back in.

So I loosened the cable, and with a bit of a struggle, got the adjuster back into its socket. Then I retightened the cable, and by adjusting the gear change carefully, I was able to get to all seven gears! At last.

Then I looked at the rear brake, and decided that it was worn enough to need replacing. That led to adjusting the tension of the return springs. And for good measure, I oiled the chain - whenever I see a bike in a bike rack with a rusted chain, I cringe, and wont to apply some bike oil.

Adjusting the rear brake, meant that I also had to adjust the brake light that comes on when I brake. I recently installed this, mainly to get the left-right turn indicator, so that when I'm on a road with tarrfic and want to turn right, I can put out my arm, and then switch on the turn blinker, so the cars behind me know my intentions. It also has a rear red light and a horn that plays eight different sounds. And all for £3.70.

I taped up a sharp edge on the rear carrier, because that could lead to damage to the pannier if left.

Then the batteries. I've been using an ammo can to hold them in the pannier, but the sharp metal of the ammo can has damaged the pannier, and I don't want to find that I go over a bump and the bottom falls out of the pannier! So, for my new replacement pannier, I'm doing it differently. I've gone back to using the rigid plastic boxes for the batteries. I suppose I could just put the batteries in the pannier without a box, but they don't have any protection from damage, they're just soft pouches. Hence the battery box.

I found that if I taped the batteries together in an L-shape (I use them in groups of three, so that I get 50 volts fully charged, 40 volts discharged) I can get two sets into the plastic box, giving me 20 amp-hours. Yesterday, 10 amp-hours was enough for about 50 caches, so I doubt if I'll ever need more than 20. In the past, I've been using 5 amp-hour batteries, which give me 20 to 25 caches of range. I count range in caches, not kilometers.

I also changed the front pannier. I have one of those little panniers that goes over the front tube, and I've been using it for all the bits and pieces that I used to carry in my shoulder bag (but then I decided that the shoulder bag was too heavy). The problem was, it was fouling the front wheel slightly, and it was also picking up a lot of mud. So instead, I'm using a belly bag (but it'll live in the pannier) that I haven't used for a long time. It has several compartments, so I can keep stuff somewhat organised, but in the last few outings, I haven't needed anything from that collection of stuff (pliers multitool, scissors multitool, tweezers, spare pen, bike back light, rubber bands, first aid kit, spare logs, spare batteries for torch, PDA, GPS, string, etc etc etc) in the last few times I've gone out. Small stuff that I hardly ever need, but when I do need it, it's so good to have! This is my secondary caching kit (the primary kit is my shoulder bag, because I need stuff from that all the time).

So now the pannier contains: Bike repair kit (which is extensive and fairly heavy, and I hardly ever use it, but when I'm ten miles from the car, it's good to know that I'll be able to fix most problems that might happen), secondary caching kit, box with batteries, combination bike lock, spare PDA holder and small toilet roll (don't ask). I weighed it, it's just over twenty pounds weight, but the pannier can take it easily, and when I need to lift the bike over an obstacle, the pannier detaches quickly, so I can lift it over separately.

The bike is now fettled!

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