BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘tips’

#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 Maintaining the bite

November 22nd – And when I got home, an essential job – replace the missing studs in the winter tyres I’s saved from last season.

Schwalbe, the makers of the tyres, sell kits of replacement studs and a tool for inserting them – they are fiddly to do but with a tiny spot of silicone grease they go in well enough.

I had six to do. Took me a while to re-find the knack, but I got there in the end… and hopefully maintaining the excellent grip I love these tires for.

But so worth in the end.

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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 Laurel and hardly

October 29th – Also on the Priorslee cycleway in Telford, a new hazard that caught me by surprise – but thankfully, didn’t have me off the bike, but it was close!

These slimy, goopy squished berries are I think, laurel. They are falling from a tree next to the cycleway, and are gradually being crushed by the feet of walkers and wheels of cyclists into a greasy pulp.

Its really fiendishly slippery on narrow tyres, and seems water resistant too – heavy rains seem to have made it worse rather than washing it away!

Take care, folks.

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#365daysofbiking Feeling groovy

March 27th – The front brake has been quite noisy in recent days, and is juddering a little, yet the pads are fine.

A quick inspection in the bike shed at my destination showed the reason: The front disc it now severely worn and is starting top ripple on hard barking. The wear surface itself is about 60% of its original width.

A new disc will be about £25. Time to get one ordered I think. It’s seen some life, that one.

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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 The daily grind:

25th November – A mechanical job that should have been easy was far from it. Replacing brake discs resulted in a struggle with seized fasteners, the failure of a brake calliper and the discovery that the parts I thought I had in the spares box brand new for this eventually were in fact the wrong ones.

The front disc was so badly worn it was starting to warp.

For a job I thought would take 15 minutes and leave me bags of time to get out turned into hours and I was lucky to get time for tea…

Perhaps I shouldn’t leave it so long next time.

#365daysofbiking Still amazed:

November 9th -One thing I never take for granted is my biking technology. From disc brakes to LED lights to tough tires, things are very much better in the saddle these days than the four decades or so ago I started to ride a bike.

One thing that would have blown my mind even in the 1990s is the current GPS bike computer technology available to me. I ride down darkened lanes, with the soft glow of a device on my bars indicating my position on a scrolling Ordnance Survey map. Overlaid on this are street names, and I get warnings of sharp bends and hazards. 

Of course, I know these lanes like the back of my hand, but when off-piste, it’s a godsend. If anyone had shown the young me this device, it would have blown my tiny mind.

Old hands scorn the modern technology, but not really is a wonderful thing.

#365daysofbiking The dark side:

November 2nd – Returning that evening, drained after a heavy, stressful week, I hit the canal.

Riding the canal towpaths after dark requires a couple of things – nerves of steel and a good front light. 

The nerves are necessary to spot the familiar hazards of the towpath in unfamiliar lighting conditions – ducks, geese, foxes, cats etc, as well as deep potholes, bumps, wooden trail edge boards and paver edges. It’s also challenging to predict sudden curves in the path you navigate automatically in daylight.

I can also be a bit… lonely.

But I love the mental challenge and peace of it.

#365daysofbiking Leaf it out:

October 16th – Time for an important warning to cyclists and motorcyclists alike – watch out for the fallen leaves at the moment. They’re very slippery indeed.

These innocuous piles of autumnal debris gradually get reduced under wheels to a slimy, soapy, wheel-steeling goop which will make you skid and catch you out when you least expect it to. Add to that rainwater, spilled diesel and other slippery stuff and the recipe is for a tumble.

In my experience the councils are pretty good at controlling the problem, but it’s an impossible task.

So watch where you’re riding and be careful out there!