BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘maintenance’

#365daysofbiking True grit


Thursday January 21st 2021 – The weather is wreaking grievous harm to my steeds. The continual mud and grime this year is getting into bottom brackets, bearings, brakes and wheel axles. Things are gritty and crunchy and graunchy.

My bikes will be OK. Unless essential, I leave maintenance until later, when the season changes and weather clears so new components get a summer start to bed in. The patina of mud, grime and road crud is left unwashed, as it does actually form a sort of protective coating.

Note in the lower picture some of the contamination is clearly road salt.

This winter has been one of the most brutally dirty ones I’ve ever seen. Continual mud and slime from rain frequent enough to keep towpaths and trails as little more than slurrey.

Oh well, I’ll sort it in spring…

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#365daysofbiking Ring of no confidence

Thursday, October 15th 2020 – An interesting one here for the Bob Big Book of Mechanical Failures.

A bike I look after has an 11 speed rear sprocket cassette – Shimano CS M7000 XTR. Like all hyperglide Shimano cassettes 11 speed and below, it fits on the free hub splined body by sliding on to an asymmetrical groove pattern to ensure all components are correctly aligned synchronously for smooth gear changes. The whole lot is held on by a fine threaded, normally tightening lockring, driven with a special tool.

Unlike lower range cassettes, which are generally 2 or 3 piece, this arrangement turns out to be discrete sprockets for all but the largest three, and appropriate spacers which you stack on the free hub before applying the lockring. The lockring should actually tighten by precession and has grooves and a crinkle washer to stop it coming loose.

So why did this factory assembled cassette locking undo itself, allowing the ring and smallest few sprockets to tumble off the free hub and grind against the inside of the frame? I think personally because it wasn’t tightened enough in the factory.

The ring looked bad at first, until I realised that the silver ribbon was not swarf but the remnants of a foil table on the ring.

Cleaned and popped back together, all worked well. But in all my years, I’ve never seen that happen before.

Check your bikes folks. This could have been nasty.

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#365daysofbiking Don’t stop me now


March 4th – The front brake was feeling funny again, it had some initial resistance – like a click – when applied. I’d had it before but couldn’t recall the cause.

Turned out I discovered it riding to work when I lost braking power on the same brake. The pads were so worn, the return leaf spring was being pushed out of place by the disc surface.causing the click.

The pistons were opened back out with a wedge tool for the purpose and new pads dropped in. Braking harmony restored!

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#365daysofbiking Mud larks

January 7th – This mud. It’s getting worse. It’s in everything, like a damaging, abrasive jelly, corroding metal, clogging up mechanisms and generally bringing the bike down.

I felt I should wash the bikes to remove the worst, so I did at the weekend. I was kind of scared of what I might find underneath.

2 days on an it’s like they were never cleaned at all.

It’s going to take a lot of work to get these steeds back up to scratch this spring. I’ll have my work cut out, clearly.

I expect whole biomes will be developing in the crud by then.

Oh the mud, what larks…

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#365daysofbiking Oddly peaceful

January 4th – It wasn’t particularly late – I think about 5pm, maybe 6. I was test riding after repairs. I’d relented and cleaned the bikes and done to urgent jobs on them. So a test ride around the bounds of Brownhills was very much in order.

I’d dropped down off Castle Gate onto Chester Road to burn in new brake pads, but as I pottered up the Chester Road back towards Brownhills, I realised there was next to no traffic and hardly anyone about.

I guess it’s the post-Christmas lull, but even the Shire Oak pub looked sleepy in the evening.

A peaceful, but somewhat odd, journey.

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#365daysofbiking Metal guru


November 19th – One of the reasons I was comfortable with the ice and frost was that I now have the winter tyres on the bike.

There’s nothing more painful than coming off on ice on a cold day – everything seems to hurt far more. To keep upright as far as possible I fit Schwalbe Marathon Winter Plus tyres. They’ve an aggressive outer tread loaded with 240 tungsten carbide studs which grip the road through the ice to give purchase even when cornering. There’s a more continuous, subtle central tread which rolls well when at maximum pressure.

Riding these is noisy and harder than normal tyres – but there are no worries about stability – these grip beautifully, like the ice isn’t there at all. They’re also very effective on leaf mulch which I find a lot of this time of year.

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#365daysofbiking A grim toll

November 15th – The bikes are suffering in the bad weather.

A continual spray of road water containing grit, balsam, leaf litter and road salt is getting into the brakes, frame and drivetrain. The pads and brake discs are wearing fast.

I need to get on with some TLC and show my steeds some love.

But while the bad weather persists, anything other than essential work seems like a losing battle.

It’s not just the rider that needs some dry weather….

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#365daysofbiking Is there any need for that?


November 7th – I see that the Canal and River Trust continue with their madly frequent bank mowing schedule with the towpath grass clearly just having been cut near Chasewater on the Anglesey Branch Canal.

There is no reason to cut this grass in November. It’s left a muddy, rotting mess behind and won’t be good for the grass, wildlife of anything else over winter.

The C&RT are always moaning they have no money, yet seem to have plenty to pay for this ridiculously frequent exercise in cosmetics.

It defies any logic.

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#365daysofbiking On the rebound

January 11th – I’ve had a winter of mechanical problems with the bikes, and one has concerned suspension.

Forks with suspension can be a blessing and a curse, and the ones I use have a sealed air spring with a hydraulic damper, and several adjustments – air volume, pressure, slow rebound, fast rebound – all of which significantly affect the ride.

If you don’t have suspension tuned correctly, you can lose a lot of efficiency in compressing the forks with every pedal revolution. The ones I use can be locked out to make them rigid in use on road, but that’s only half a solution.

Since the forks have had work done, they’ve lost all my fine tuning and I need to start from scratch, so I’ve cheated on the lengthy process of dialling them in – I’ve borrowed a Shockwiz.

Shockwiz is a small electronic gizmo (a bit smaller than a matchbox) that is cable tied to the fork, and connected by a small hose to the air spring valve. It uses pressure and other sensors to detect the motion of the forks over a variety of riding conditions, and it just sits there, logging the data.

With a brilliant companion phone app connected via bluetooth, you set various measurements and chose what kind of profile you want, and over successive rides, the app will make recommendations on adjustments to make, and request you ride certain surfaces – like bumpy trails or whatever.

You adjust, then restart the process.

Within a few rides you get a fantastic ride that really is what you’re looking for – often by telling you to make adjustments that are counter-intuitive.

Shockwiz is very expensive, but if you can borrow or hire one like I did, it’s a godsend. A month or more long process sorted in a few days. And probably far better.

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#365daysofbiking Rainbows in the dark:

December 2nd – A session of intensive and long overdue bike maintenance dragged on until sundown, then a thrash onto Cannock Chase, specifically Rainbow Hill.

It was warm, quiet, and there was a gentle drizzle. Owls and deer called in the darkness, and rabbits and badgers scurried from my light.

A surprisingly enjoyable blast.