Thursday 21 January 2016

Bike maintenance

After yesterday's bike problems, a big heap of maintenance was needed.

First, the back wheel problem. I removed the wheel. The inner tube is done for, but the tire and gel insert still have lots of life, so I washed the mud off them and stored them. I had a quick look at the wheel, but it wasn't looking good. So I doused the workings with penetrating oil, and set it aside for later.

I have a spare back wheel - I got it from Ebay a while back, so I checked that the tire is Kevlar, the gel insert is in place and the inner tube is one of the thich puncture-resistant ones, and put that on. Then I had to adjust the gear cable.

In doing that, I found that the cable wasn't moving freely in the outer, and changing  gear was impossibly difficult. I pulled off the outer, and saw where the problem was - the last couple of feet of the inner was rusty. I could see a break in the outer, and water would have been getting in. So I decided - new inner, new outer.

I partially dismantled the gear changer to replace the cable, but I discovered that A) the cable has a terminator that is different frmo the ones I have in stock, and B) I couldn't get the cable out of the gear changer. I was thinking, this probably means I have to replace the whole gear changer, which isn't as bad as it sounds, they're only about £25 (I have a combined gear changer and brake lever). But then I had an inspiration.

I cut the rusty part of the inner off, and cut a new length of outer to replace the outer that was letting water in. I took a length of inner from my box-of-bits, so that gave me a good outer, and a good inner, except for one little problem - the inner was in two pieces. And that's where the cunning plan came in. I used an electrical connector, the sort where you have a brass tube and a screw at each end to hold the wire in place. I put both the ends of the inners into that, overlapping, so that each of the two screws hold both wires. I've tested it, and it seems to hold fine!

Then I decided that the rear brake wasn't running smoothly enough, and again that was a cable problem. I replaced the outer and the inner, and now that's fine. I also replaced the outer and inner of the front brake.

One slight problem - the rear brake was now fouling the back rack. I fixed that with a longer retaining bolt and half a dozen spacer washers.

I also spent a while on Ebay, looking at what's available. I thought about having a rear disc brake, but the bike doesn't have a lug for fixing it to, so I think that's out. Then I thought about using a hydraulic brake instead of the cable inner-and-outer, because the problem of corrosion is pretty inevitable. But a hydraulic brake system would need such a major reworking, and can I get a combined brake/gear shifter? The fact is, I don't use my brakes much while caching, because I'm not on the road much. So I'll stay with what I've got. My road bike does have hydraulic front brakes, and it has discs front and back. On the road, being able to stop in a hurry can be really important.

And then I thought about replacing the spare back wheel. First, I tried to dismantle the one I just took off the bike, but I couldn't get the gears off. And anyway, I'll need a new freewheel, for sure.

But I looked through Ebay, and I can get a back wheel with a seven gear cassette that offers a range of gears from 11 teeth to 28. Currently, I'm on 14 to 28. If I switch to 11, that means that when I'm going at a bit of speed along tarmac, I won't have to be cranking the pedals as fast as I do now - sometimes, especially on a bit of a downhill, I can't crank fast enough to keep up with the bike! And when I'm on rough ground, the top gear is irrelevant, because I'm usually in third (out of seven).

The one I'm looking at is £29 (plus £8 postage). No tube or tire, but that's fine because I'd want to use the ones I prefer. I haven't had a puncture for several years now. I've had valve failure twice (that's what happenedd on Tuesday) but considering that I'm mostly riding over rough ground, and there's brambles, and blackthorn, that's pretty good!

I've also removed the thermometer that monitors the motor temperature, because in the winter, that's not going to be an issue - I might put it back in summer.

And the thing I had that gave me a brake light at the rear, and a musical horn, and a turn indicator? I've hardly ever used any of that, and I had to grab the bike as it tilted over, and I grabbed that thing, and it broke. So I've removed the whole thing - not much of a loss.

Also, I took one of the pedals off because it wasn't rotating as freely as it should, gave it a shot of oil and now it's fine.

So I think I'm ready to roll again!

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