Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Trek is Ready to Ride

Until I figure out the Miyata's chain problem, I plan to start off riding the Trek to work. It's ills are easily tackled—routine maintenance, really—and I got to it over the Easter weekend.

Our new Park chain remover tool. The rubberized mega handle and precision tooling
 works magic on a chain.
Deciding to swap a few parts seems daunting, but the impetus to start bike commuting motivates me like nothing else. First item: replace a badly frayed shifting cable. Loosen the allen bolt on the derailleur and remove the cable all the way out through the thumb shifter. There was nothing wrong with the current housing. Presto! Replace with new one, re-tighten, and the shifting is better than before. And though I put it off, I'm learning to not be so frightened of cabling. Now, if I have to adjust the freewheel travel or reset the index shifting, well, that might be a different story.

I have Hugh to thank for my new chain remover tool. The Hub and I've been using a Park tool for years, which worked adequately, even though my hands hurt when applying torque with the minuscule t-bar handle, but with the "Park" name I figured it was the best tool on the market. However, according to Hugh there are two Park chain remover tools. The larger version is precision and hefty and I literally pushed the pin through the links without a fret or feeling like a woman weenie! For home mechanics I can't imagine using anything else. Heavy, well-made tools are just that—heavy, with top-notch construction—and best kept at home. The old tool still has value and will remain an integral part of our touring toolkit.

One side of the tool is a half moon with teeth.
So, after I removed the stretched chain, there's no better time to go ahead and clean the freewheel, derailleur and pulleys. It's amazing the gunk you can extract from between the cogs, especially with a toothbrush and Park's two-side plastic tool made specifically for this purpose. I do this chore over newspaper in the basement or outside where I can sweep the tailings into the grass. No time like the present to get the drive-train as clean as possible before placing a new chain.

The other side presents a stiff-bristled brush.

I will never again buy a chain without masterlinks (there will be an upcoming post on the Miyata). I resize the new chain to the exact length as the previous one, allowing for the extra length of two masterlinks They come as separate pieces, but when connected form an additional link. These are critical so don't lose them as I did and ended up crawling around on the floor  searching for a time. At eye level, finally, I located one piece hidden beneath the work stand. First, wind the chain around the cogs and derailleur, then place each side of the masterlink in position. Set the pins through the oval-shaped holes, however, don't tighten completely. It's important to rotate the pedals and try out the new configuration, forward and backward before attempting a ride. I noticed some rattling. I studied the chain's path eventually discovering my mistake. I had wrapped the chain correctly around each pulley but forgot about the little guide. It's a small metal protrusion that keeps the chain from skipping off the pulley wheel. I was unable to force the chain into position, but with my hands I unhooked the master link and rethreaded the chain. Then I took the bike out for a spin. Gears worked quite well. The chain skipped a bit on each rotation, however I knew that riding would properly seat the masterlink.

Pristine weather. A lovely ride on the waterfront path. It feels like spring.
The next day was gorgeous. I itched to go for a ride. With one more task to do, I moved the bike outdoors. I replaced the rear brake pads. It's a simple solution for more efficient stopping power, yet I always struggle with cantilever brake adjustments. Loosen one side, tighten the other. When the fiddling moves the pads closer, I turn the screw above the upside down V configuration to fine tune it until I'm happy. My motto regarding replacing pads: wait until I'm willing to spend time to do it right, and improve the braking power. It's a crucial bike component that should work at optimal efficiency. And with brakes and rims working in conjunction, I also wipe the rims clean.

Let it be said. I'm not above letting my local bike shop handle the hard stuff—in fact if I'm unsure I'll happily let them assess or fix my work, but I do like to try when I have the time or inclination to learn. When I'm successful there's an immense sense of accomplishment and I feel like I'm one step closer to understanding the bicycle.

Now, she's ready to roll.

It was a wonderful 15 mile ride. The lake was beautiful too. People lined up for creemees at a stand that seems to open on a whim, capturing good weather and lots of walkers and riders. I also noticed the new Cycle the City signage. It's a big improvement, showing split routing through the Intervale. Hopefully, it'll steer more riders on this little used but pleasantly paved alternative to the dirt section.

Ah, a break at an overlook. The beach is wide here and people were walking along the shore.

All smiles. the Trek is ready to roll to work.
The bike is fit for riding to work though I'm disappointed in the forecast. It's supposed to turn colder with snow flurries.


  1. It must feel good to get the bike going at its best after winter. That is a great trail you have for riding too. Vicki

    1. It's been a long winter. I hope to commute tomorrow. Had two days of 0F if you count the windchill, but sunny weather is arriving soon.


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