Bicycle prep. and maint.

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Elliot
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Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by Elliot » Sat Jul 27, 2013 5:58 pm

:D
There are countless bicycle threads, but they sink into the Archives like most threads. So I'm starting a new one.

Today I'm tuning up some bicycles, and I'm reminded to remind you all about derailers. Pardon moi -- derailleurs. These are the nightmarish better-mousetraps attached at the right-hand side of the rear wheel -- and often also to the frame just above the crank. These infernal devices do the gear shifting. They are controlled -- or not -- by the stubborn gadgets on the handlebar.

A big problem with derailers is that they get sticky. There are at least ten mechanical pivot points in a derailer, and they all need to operate smoothly. In the picture I point at just one of them.

The cure is WD-40 or a similar liquid. Let the chemical engineers argue about the percentages of cleaning solvent and sewing machine oil in the stuff. It works. Just douse the derailer with WD-40 and enjoy the miracle.

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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by BoyScoutGirl » Sat Jul 27, 2013 11:51 pm

Elliot, how regularly should I grease up the derailleur on my non-playa street bike?
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by Elliot » Sun Jul 28, 2013 7:22 am

.
What do I look like, the Oracle Of Delphi??? ... Oh, wait, this isn't one of those irreverent threads.

Well, grease is too thick. Stick with something very thin that can seep into the tight spots.
And I have no idea how often. In a clean environment you might not need to ever do anything. Now that you know about the ten or more pivot points in that silly thing, just apply your best judgement.

...If you have any. Oh, wait....

:D
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by Elliot » Sun Jul 28, 2013 8:30 am

A common problem is broken pedals.

Most inexpensive bicycles these days come with plastic pedals. Some don’t even have ball bearings – it’s just plastic rubbing on steel. Get rid of them. You can get metal pedals with ball bearings for as little as ten bucks at the crap-marts. 20 bucks in a bicycle store – and he’ll help you buy the correct ones – see below.

Replacing pedals requires a 15 Millimeter open end wrench. It may need to be extra thin to fit. Do not try an adjustable wrench.

The pedal on the left side has left-hand threads. (To keep it from unscrewing itself while you are pedaling.)

There are two sizes of pedals and they are not interchangeable. The size I’m talking about is the thread size. But there is an easy system to follow:
There are two kinds of bicycle cranks; One Piece, and Three Piece. A one piece crank is simply bent where it goes into the frame. A three piece crank is bolted together. See photos.
One Piece takes ½” threads. Three Piece takes 9/16” threads.


Image
This shows a one piece crank. It is simply bent. Takes ½ inch pedals.


Image
This shows a three piece crank. There is a bolt behind the plastic dust cap. This takes 9/16 inch pedals.


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A metal pedal and a plastic pedal. You can also see the difference in thread sizes -- the metal one is for three-piece crank and the plastic one for one-piece crank.
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by BoyScoutGirl » Sun Jul 28, 2013 5:33 pm

Elliot wrote:.
In a clean environment you might not need to ever do anything. Now that you know about the ten or more pivot points in that silly thing, just apply your best judgement.
That might explain why I hadn't before seen such maintenance mentioned. SoCal can get dusty but I don't go off-road too often so I imagine I'll just give the pivot points of the derailleur on my daily bike a glance now and again to make sure they look okay.
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by Elliot » Sun Jul 28, 2013 6:20 pm

You will not be able to tell by looking. Just buy a small can of WD-40 at any hardware or auto parts store, and give it some quick squirts once in a while.
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by BoyScoutGirl » Sun Jul 28, 2013 8:25 pm

Understood! I have some WD40 lying around, I'll do that. Thanks for the advice.
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by Elliot » Tue Jul 30, 2013 8:57 pm

Next item:
If your bicycle has cables, for brakes and/or gears, do yourself a favour and refrain from applying glue, tape, zip ties, or other obstructions over the cables. This is particularly important where the cables are bare --that is, where the thin steel wire does not have a sleeve around it. That wire needs to be able to move. You can cover it with faux fur or whatever, but loosely, and no glue on the wire.

Baskets on handlebars are a perennial problem. Try to tuck the cables in smooth curves, and move the handlebar from side to side to see if this strains a cable.

Also try to avoid placing decorations where they may restrict access to components that may need adjustment. I had a lady ask me to raise the saddle on her bike, only to find that the bolt was entombed in hot glue and Stuff.

Carry on!
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by Captain Goddammit » Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:04 am

Elliot wrote: I had a lady ask me to raise the saddle on her bike, only to find that the bolt was entombed in hot glue and Stuff.
Why the hell does that sound so dirty?
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by Elliot » Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:54 am

Dear Captain: Probably because your ears are so dirty.

(Or is that Unjon's line?)
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by Martiansky » Sat Aug 10, 2013 5:20 am

Elliot,
What are some of the more common bike break down
problems that you see when at BM?
I'm thinking of bringing a few spare parts with me....
Tubes and patch kit being on the list and I'm just trying
to think of what else to bring with me in case someone needs something.

Thanks!
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by Elliot » Sat Aug 10, 2013 9:20 am

Hoo-boy, where to start!
It is simply amazing how many things can go wrong with a bicycle. I probably ought to make a list of the repairs I make, for future inventory procurement. But it also varies kind'a randomly -- last year I suddenly needed a large number of crank bearings. But I will list what comes to mind now.

Inner tubes.

Tires.

Pedals.

Crank bearings, primarily for one-piece cranks.

For three-piece cranks, the little bolts/nuts (depending on bicycle) that hold the crank arms on.
Aluminum crank arms also, because the pedal-threads get stripped out. And on the right-hand side, the sprockets get bent.

Sprockets get bent on one-piece cranks also, but those sprockets can be replaced, so you need only bring sprockets.

Chains don't need replacement as often as one might think, but of course you want to have some -- both 1/8 (single speed / hub gears) and 3/32 (derailer gears).

Rear wheels.

WD-40.

Most tight bearings can be fixed by simply loosening them a little, to make room for the inevitable dust. But in the absence of tools or time, a squirt of WD-40 will often wash them out for a while. Water works fine for this, but triggers instant corrosion.

Freewheels that either lock up tight or spin freely (more common) can usually be fixed by patiently trickling WD-40 into them. Make sure to identify the narrow gap between the rotating part and the stationary part -- that's where the WD-40 can get in.

Saddles.

Hand grips or masking tape. A bare handlebar can get too hot to touch.

Cables -- a couple of six-dollar cable tune-up kits. The Schwinn brand (K-Mart, I think) has nylon liner -- recommended. The Bell brand (Walmart) does not have liner.

The little metal loop that secures a coaster brake torque arm to the left chain stay of the frame, with screw and nut. Must. Be. There. And connected.

Now a couple of points about derailer. Derailers, with cable and shifter-device, are almost as troublesome as brakes, and that's saying something. On bicycles with two derailers (front and rear -- bicycles with 10 or more gears) I perform a preventive front-derailerectomy on most my bikes. Put the chain on the middle sprocket and you are golden.

But the rear derailer cannot be removed, because it tensions the chain, and derailer bikes have no other chain adjustment. Some folks advocate removing the derailer anyway, and shortening the chain to match -- and some of those bikes get carried into my "shop" with the chain as tight as a guitar string, utterly unrideable. (The chain "walks" up to a larger cog.)

To fix a useless derailer, it must be jammed fast in a position that provides a usable gear. You may be able to do this by simply turning in one of the tiny adjustment screws. But the screw may not have enough range, in which case you use bailing wire or some such, and tie the derailer in position. You will need pliers to twist the wire tightly until you have it just right. You will probably also take a while to figure out where to put the wire. This is major Micky-Mousing! :lol:

I hope that helps.
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by Martiansky » Sat Aug 10, 2013 10:19 am

Thank you, Elliot that helps me a lot! I will rummage in the spare parts pile!

Have you ever tried in a pinch to go with loose bearings in a 1 piece bottom bracket if the cage is trashed?
Just wondering because it seems caged bearings seem a bit spendy unless you get 'em off a junk bike.


I think you should keep a list...if not for stock up then just for fun!
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by Elliot » Sat Aug 10, 2013 10:42 am

Yes, I do indeed extract used bearings from parts-bikes. No, I have never installed the balls loose, but I cannot think of any reason it wouldn't work. But often the balls themselves are damaged -- these are not high-grade Swedish aircraft bearings!
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by Ratpick » Wed Aug 14, 2013 2:49 pm

Good tips. Thanks. I should stop by and visit. I used some of the "dry" type chain lube and seemed to work well. Check your local bike shop. I don't remember brand right now. It's like a wax based lube that sets up after application and leaves the chain feeling almost completely dry and clean. Dust sticks to it less. And coaster brakes! You don't need gears in brc anyway and the closed unit of the coaster brake doesn't mind all that dust. Other thing I thought is about the wd-40. It seems to leave behind a residue that be kinda gummy or sticky. Probably doesn't really matter for a playa bike, especially if it gets re-wetted. Anyway. Take care of your horse and it will take care of you.
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by Elliot » Wed Aug 14, 2013 4:07 pm

Ratpick wrote:Good tips. Thanks. I should stop by and visit. I used some of the "dry" type chain lube and seemed to work well. Check your local bike shop. I don't remember brand right now. It's like a wax based lube that sets up after application and leaves the chain feeling almost completely dry and clean. Dust sticks to it less. And coaster brakes! You don't need gears in brc anyway and the closed unit of the coaster brake doesn't mind all that dust. Other thing I thought is about the wd-40. It seems to leave behind a residue that be kinda gummy or sticky. Probably doesn't really matter for a playa bike, especially if it gets re-wetted. Anyway. Take care of your horse and it will take care of you.
The sticky residue of WD-40 is oil -- light lubricating oil, about 15%. The other 85% is a solvent almost identical to kerosene. What you DON'T want to use it for is adding lubrication where there already is some, for the solvent may remove more existing lubricant than the oil replaces. WD-40 is simply not much of a lubricant, but it is wonderful for freeing up sticking parts on Playa bikes, such a sticking brakes. The little pivot points near the brakes shoes get mighty sticky sometimes, making the brakes drag. WD-40 frees them right up.
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by Captain Goddammit » Wed Aug 14, 2013 6:05 pm

Bikes... I might actually bring one... Nah...
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by Ratpick » Wed Aug 14, 2013 7:39 pm

Captain godammit can "ski" on my bike behind your boat?

Then we shall see about maintenance.
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by Elliot » Wed Aug 14, 2013 10:19 pm

When smoke and sparks come out of your wheel bearings, you may want to let go of the rope. :lol:
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by pink » Sun Aug 18, 2013 1:32 am

Hey Eliot, what's the best stuff to use on the chain? My playa bikes are pretty dry. And rusty.
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by Elliot » Sun Aug 18, 2013 7:30 am

pink wrote:Hey Eliot, what's the best stuff to use on the chain? My playa bikes are pretty dry. And rusty.
Work the chain between your fingers.

If the links move freely, you are all set. It seems crude to ride with no chain lubrication, but it works fine for a good while -- and there is no goo to attract dust which gets into the joints.
If the chain is stiff but not "solid", apply WD-40 and crank it around a bit. If it frees up, you are ready. If it does not, replace chain.
Of course, if the chain feels "solid" to start with, just replace it then.

You will get as many different answers as the number of people you ask. But that's what I go by.

No oil for wear-protection? Sure you can. You don't want the chain to break from sheer wear. I've seen chains where the pins were worn half thru. But it's kinda your call.


Oh.... If you have a single-speed chain, watch out for the chain being too tight. I've seen a number of bikes with chains as tight as guitar strings. Be aware, sprockets are rarely completely round, and the tightness of the chain will vary as you pedal.

And.... Take a good look at the tires. An alarming number of flats are caused not by a neat little puncture of the tube, but by old tires rupturing in the sidewall, which allows the tube to explode out thru the gap. White sidewall tires are specially vulnerable to failure.
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by pink » Sun Aug 18, 2013 4:27 pm

Thanks Elliot! They all move fine, although one will need the WD40 on the derailleur that you spoke of earlier.
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by Teo del Fuego » Mon Aug 19, 2013 4:42 pm

Elliot wrote:. No, I have never installed the balls loose, but I cannot think of any reason it wouldn't work.
You can install ball bearings loose without any problems. It can be a little tricky when threading the axle through the hub, but use really thick axle grease. My front wheel actually rolls smother without the bearing raceways. You do have to make sure your bearing cups are adjusted just right.

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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by Elliot » Mon Aug 19, 2013 6:03 pm

Some bearing balls even come loose from the factory, such as the tiny little ones in the freewheel. The cage is there for assembly convenience, but man... it is a major convenience! ...Until heck breaks out, yes.

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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by The Hustler » Mon Jan 06, 2014 1:02 pm

BoyScoutGirl wrote:Elliot, how regularly should I grease up the derailleur on my non-playa street bike?
In a non-dusty environment and reasonable weather (I mean no grit or mud) you may never have to do anything to it. Derailleurs aren't typically greased and there really isn't much one can do for maintenance.

On the plus side, I have a rear derailleur on my mountain bike (the one that's going to the playa, in addition to being ridden everywhere else) that's about 10 years old and works fine. I've never touched it.
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by Lonesomebri » Mon Jan 06, 2014 8:10 pm

After riding around 3 beautiful people thru sound camps after the Temple burn, while they danced on my chariot, I noticed a slight vibration as all of us spilled onto the playa. Inspection of my equipment revealed some slight rim imbalance. Suggestions? Solutions?
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by Martiansky » Mon Jan 06, 2014 8:22 pm

A slight vibration? LOL!

Get some mag type spokeless wheels or at least some wheels that have heavy gauge spokes and/or a higher spoke count.
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by The Hustler » Mon Jan 06, 2014 8:23 pm

Lonesomebri wrote:After riding around 3 beautiful people thru sound camps after the Temple burn, while they danced on my chariot, I noticed a slight vibration as all of us spilled onto the playa. Inspection of my equipment revealed some slight rim imbalance. Suggestions? Solutions?
Ouch. Yea, that's just a quick wheel truing job.

Seriously, it looks like the wheel is done for. It probably isn't worth trying to rebuild it.
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by The Hustler » Mon Jan 06, 2014 8:32 pm

Lonesomebri wrote:After riding around 3 beautiful people thru sound camps after the Temple burn, while they danced on my chariot, I noticed a slight vibration as all of us spilled onto the playa. Inspection of my equipment revealed some slight rim imbalance. Suggestions? Solutions?

This looks like the wheel was damaged already. Bike wheels are VERY strong radially (up and down) but not as much laterally. A stronger wheel with a better rim and higher-tension lacing (and more importantly, even tension) will help. Maybe matching wheels will help - or wheels of similar strength - so one isn't simply deflecting lateral forces while the other absorbs it and becomes a #4 lunch special (a taco)

Given how the rim is bent, were they moving side to side? Did you crash? Were the riders really fat?
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Re: Bicycle prep. and maint.

Post by Lonesomebri » Mon Jan 06, 2014 9:06 pm

Super Evil Brian wrote:Given how the rim is bent, were they moving side to side? Did you crash? Were the riders really fat?
They were standing up dancing on the seat, all three of them, bouncing from side to side. Then, yes, most gloriously, we crashed. These wheels were scavenged out of the bike repair camps after destroying the previous ones. Maintenance? Huh? At least we are getting somewhere here. Now that we have discussed what needs to be got and done, which one of you all is gonna do it for me?
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