How handy are you?

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Author Topic: Fix it


Fix it
« on: May 19, 2012 »
This post is about repairing or modifying a bicycle. For other, darker uses, see "Is it fixed?" (disambiguation)


Poll choices not necessarily in order of difficulty.

I have some odd gaps – I've never taped bars or tightened a spoke! – but I'm now competent enough to have become a rare visitor to the surgery. It probably helps that my bikes are simplespeeds.


The tool for the job
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2015 »
It's relaxing working on bikes, if you have the right tools. If you don't, it can quickly become the opposite of relaxing. On the other hand, there's something satisfying about trying to solve a problem...

Another day, another noise. Was it the seatpost shim? (No.) How to remove it to find out? The shim was bedded in, resisting every attempt coax it out with pliers, screwdrivers, and other questionable extraction tools. Nor did the seatpost clamp want to be used as a wrench. Then it struck me: my printer's gauge.

I used to be a typesetter, before desktop publishing came along and gave everybody the serif and sans-serif keys to the kingdom. This ruler was my going away present to myself. No mere memento, it has often come in handy, usually to guide an X-Acto knife for little projects.

I slid it down through the groove in the shim, gave it a twist, then pulled up. It was the perfect size – both edges of the ruler head rested on the bottom of the shim.

If that hadn't worked, I suppose a hanger could've been sacrificed for the cause, or the pin spanner which became part of my patent pending device might've done the trick, but I like that my old printer's friend now has an honorary place in my cycling toolbox.


and then it just clicked
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2015 »

Fortunately bicycle repair is on my bucket list.


Archimedes strikes again
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2018 »
Apparently afraid that pedal may one day wish to part company with crank, I give it so much English a regular pedal wrench won’t Brexit it off.

1st attempt, if you don’t count removing crank+pedal and beseeching a mechanic at a bike shop to remove it for me, to be told he’d probably scratch up the crank and it would have been better not to take it off the bike and bring that instead, which wasn’t convenient:

I fashioned a Frankensteinian tool consisting of a normal human sized pedal wrench, a cut down spare part from a metal shelving unit hammered in shape to grip it, a length of wood, and lots of duct tape.

You get the idea.

Close up showing fine detail. For avoidance of doubt, it wasn't supposed to bend like that.

Bit the bullet and ordered Park Professional Pedal Wrench, shown here to scale:


Turn it up
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2019 »
The newest tool in my toolbox is also the oldest, in a way:

For over a decade now I’ve been trying to keep this Litespeed quiet:

No matter what I do, eventually it starts creaking again.

I give up.

on edit: or not


Fix it
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2019 »
The impossible has happened. ↑ is currently being examined by a mechanic, apparently happy in his work, who has made it his mission to find the source.

Good thing I had this fainting couch installed at NACF.

He's had it for over a week now, fitting it in whenever possible. I'm just leaving him to it, fingers crossed.

UPDATE: He kept it for a month+. Couldn’t figure it out. Didn’t charge me(!), while at the same time crossing stuff off the list. After bringing it home I then had the idea of swapping out the chainring, which seemed an unlikely culprit, but presto! Quiet. Until next time.

UPDATE: This saga is now spread across multiple threads and forums. As of late January '22 the bike is free of unauthorised noises.


The sound of silence
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2019 »
Brain: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Me: Yes sir.
Brain: Are you listening?
Me: Yes, I am.
Brain: Zip tie.
Me: That’s two words.
Brain: Whatever. It should stop the mudguard on the Litespeed from rattling where the mount, well, unmounted. Easiest fix in the world. Think about it. Will you think about it?
Me: That’s your job.
Brain: Then just do it.

Me: It worked! The bike is quiet again! Why didn't I think of that?
Brain: Beats me... You couldn’t clean that up for the picture?
Me: Bothering your anterior insula, is it?
Brain: My what?
Me: According to Scientific American in The Neuroscience of Beauty, that's the specific part of you which is involved in aesthetic appraisal.
Brain: Beauty might be pushing it. You realise we're talking about a zip tie, right? By the way, some people call those cable ties. They might be thinking 'WTF is a zip tie?'
Me: Then we've just expanded those people's vocabulary, haven't we.
Brain: About this anterior insula. Surely it's more complicated than that.
Me: It is, and don't call me Shirley.

Brain: You know I saw that coming a mile off.
Me: Read the article and see for yourself. Then head over to the page on neuroesthetics and consider Ramachandran's eight laws of artistic experience.
Brain: I'll be sure to put that on my to do list.
Me: Is your dance card really that full?
Brain: Which part of me decides when to wrap this up?

Little victories
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2022 »
Give me a sticky enough lever, in this case with the help of loctite, and I shall remove the rounded chainring bolt.

Others must have arrived at this solution long before it occurred to me, but if so, I have yet to see it in the literature.* Beats drilling ~ especially if you're no good at drilling ~ that's for sure.

* on edit: Meaning in all my searches. Until now. Even so I had to specifically search for it. It tends to be all drilling or jamming things in.

PS. I'm afraid to watch that video.

The tell-tale heart
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2022 »
Chains 'stretch', or wear out. (So do hearts.) "Chain's a bit slack" went the common admonition on forums I used to frequent. Being the owner of a perfect gear'd Litespeed,

True Love

the state of the heart of my bike

is something that needs particular attention.

Having solved one tormenting issue, another threatened to rear its head: the curse of being too tight.

As well as causing premature wear on components, it's just plain noisy, as cogs aren't perfectly round and so the teeth on one side bite in, particularly when it's under strain. This must have come up before in the 14 or so years I've run this singlespeed, but I never paid much attention because mea culpa I'm almost always listening to music,

and anyway, would have figured they stretch in time.

It might not have been a bad idea to educate myself on this subject before now. Bikeforums, what say ye?

The chain should be just right Goldilocks.

The chain should be as loose as it can be without falling off.


I wish people would reverse their thinking on this. Chains should be loose, not tight. You'll probably be able to see sag in the chain all the way around with the cranks. That's great, as long as you can't derail your chain (careful with your fingers.)

I'm going to go ahead and accept twelsch42's truth unless a better one comes along. This does, however, present me with a problem. How to never run a chain which isn't too tight on a bike with only one setting, as it were?

Unless that half-link I have on order does the trick (I have a vague memory of trying that before), it looks like I'll need to wear in chains destined for the Litespeed on one of my bikes with horizontal dropouts, which means installing larger chainring and cog on the donor bike as the chain has to be long enough for a transplant. Either that or see if anyone sells them pre-stretched. Now there's an untapped market...

Update: Of course, the half-link made it too long. Two bikes are now on stretching duty, but I should probably give Sheldon Brown's axle filing trick a go.

Next on the agenda
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2022 »

At the risk of tempting fate.