Tag Archives: maintenance

Got keep your bike on the road with TLC.

Oh no, oh no, oh no….my Zonda rims are cracked

Dear Rouleurs,

MMT had a dreadful trip to his friendly neighbourhood bike shop, Good Bikes’ last week.  MMT’s venerable Wilier was making a few awful noises from the vicinity of the bottom bracket.  May be it needed replacing as it had been ridden on for nearly six years.  Similarly the left pedal was behaving very weirdly under power.  All in all, it seemed high time for a service.

So MMT rode his Wilier to work and dropped the bike off.  A few minutes of explanation ensured.  The mechanic, Nathan, was advised to ring me if the price of repairs was exceeding $300.  Nathan called MMT a few hours later and his news left MMT aghast.  Apparently the rear rim was showing signs of cracking and needed replacing…..crap….Keep in mind that these were the $800 Campagnolo Zondas, bought just over 2 and half years ago.

Fortunately, MMT had kept the original Fulcrum rims.  MMT had spent a frustrating Saturday afternoon, a few weeks ago, fitting spoke reflectors and had intended to use these as his winter wheels.  So the Wilier stayed at the shop, until the old rims were retrieved and fitted. Nathan showed MMT the cracks and MMT was horrified at what he saw.

MMT reckons he’s done about 15,000km on these rims and can’t believe how these stress fractures have occurred. For starters, they are all on non-cassette side of the rim. One of them has cracked clean through, with clear daylight visible. MMT can only shudder at the thought of what may have happened had the spokes given way entirely.

MMT is not a happy camper…

Until next time, ride safe.


Richie Porte, Wheelgate and Emergency Repairs


Dear Roulers,

Not much seems to be going right for Team Sky’s Richie Porte at the Giro.  He has been docked two minutes by the race jury after he received an illegal wheel change from Orica-GreenEdge‘s Simon Clarke following his puncture in the closing kilometres of stage 10 of the Giro d’Italia.  Porte punctured with seven kilometres remaining and lost 47 seconds to the main peloton, despite the wheel offered by Clarke and the assistance later provided by GreenEdge’s Michael Matthews during the chase effort.  Man doesn’t that suck.    I wonder would that have happened between Aru and some other Italian rider?


Also is it my imagination or is Orica-GreenEdge giving him more help than his own team?….AND WHAT EXACTLY IS THE SKY RIDER IN THE FRONT OF THE PHOTO DOING?? Given that he’s out of contract at the end of this year, are GreenEdge sending not so subtle messages about which team he should ride for next year.  Time will tell.

Given Richie’s faux pas, it triggered some thinking on my part about what else he could have done to effect an emergency repair and then in general about emergency repairs.

Here’s my bumper list of emergency repairs you could do by the side of the road:

Split Tyre No tyre patches…no problem.  Wrap strong paper, plastic sheeting around the tube inside the tyre.  Wrapping tape around the tyre with tape or part of an old inner tube may help.  Remember to disable the brakes or remove the brake blocks, otherwise the tyre won’t spin freely.
No Spare Tubes You’ll love this.  Tie a knot in the tyre on the hole.  You may be able to inflate the tyre hard enough to be able to ride.  Plan B is stuff the tyre with lots of grass and spare filling such as paper.  This is hard to do and it may be more time effective to walk to help.
Broken Gears I wish has known this a few months ago….if you break the rear derailleur, shorten the chain and remove or bypass the gears.  This will result in a single speed bike. Riding will always be quicker than walking.
Snapped Gear Cable Thank God I’ve never had this happen…screw down the ‘high adjuster’ screw on the gear mechanism, so that the chain is one of the middle sprockets.  You should be able to keep going , especially if the front derailleur is still working.  If the front cable breaks, repeat the fix and put the chain on to the smaller chain ring.
Freewheel Failure I didn’t even know that this could happen…however, use zip-tie to secure the sprockets to the spokes of the back wheel.  Be really careful as you are now riding a fixed wheel track bike.  Be very careful applying the brakes.  Provided you are careful, there’s a really good chance you’ll make to assistance.
Cracked frames or forks Again if they are carbon or aluminium forget it…if its steel or titanium based you’ve got half a chance of bending it back into shape. If you cracks in your frame, again gaffer tape and strong pieces of wood may be enough to hold the frame together long enough to reach assistance.
Bent Rims Hopefully it goes without saying this won’t work with carbon wheels.   Emergency straightening can be carried out by standing on them or leaning on them against a gutter or manhole.  You’ll have to disable the brakes.  Toss the rim when you get home.
Broken Seat Post 2 fixes that you might be able to try, depending on where the break is on the post.  The most obvious action…drop the seat post until decent portion is in the seat tube, uncomfortable but doable.  Second, find a piece of wood or tree branch that can be jammed into the two halves.  Brace the saddle to the top tube or seat stays by using gaffer tape  or straps.

Hopefully you’ll never have to use any of these.

Until next time


The moral dilemma of the shop demo replacement bike

Dear Roulers,

It’s official I’m still waiting on my Villier, that’s in the workshop at Freedom Machine, waiting for that pesky Campagnolo rear derailleur.  For whatever reason, this part seems to be very difficult to track down.  It has been two weeks and I’m becoming very twitchy.  I assume it is some type of withdrawal symptom.  Which brings me to the major moral dilemma of my cycling life, whether to succumb to the forbidden fruit of the shop demo bike.

Trek Domane S5.2, demo bike care of Freedom Machine

Trek Domane S5.2, demo bike care of Freedom Machine

It was the second time I was offered the demo bike.  What didn’t realise was that it was serious roadbike, well over twice the cost of my Villier. OMG what a bike. It’s a matt black 2013 Trek  Domane 5.2 and it is beautiful.  It’s the first time I’ve ever ridden a full carbon fibre framed bike.  At first it’s a bit weird as its very light and super responsive in steering and acceleration.

I’ve always wondered whether the reviews I’ve read of high performance road bikes were a bit like snobby  wine reviews where the sommelier makes seemingly abstract and obscure claims about the relative merits of a wine.  For example http://www.bikerumor.com/2012/07/03/review-2013-trek-domane-endurance-road-bike/

However the bike that was designed for Fabian Cancellara and the classics doesn’t disappoint.  Its absolutely true that the bike soaks up the lumps and bumps on the road. There is almost no vibration coming into the handle bars. It’s also much kinder on my back as the riding position is a bit more upright, as you would expect in an endurance focused bike.  I now understand all the fuss over the Shimano Ultegra.  The gear shifting was faultless.

The 38km I did on it today was relatively effortless and in word… smooth. So does this mean I’m now cheating on my Villier and fallen for a high spec Trek?  More importantly how do I scrape together $4000 to by one?

Until next time.

PS Before I forget I’ve completed 697km in 6 weeks, which means I’m 14% of my 5000km goal.

Keeping your machine on the road

Look after your bike and reap the rewards

The Lead Out

One of the keys to keeping your trusty machine or machines in tip-top condition is regular preventive and corrective maintenance.  Now if you are time poor, like me, maintenance is usually something done at the my local bike shop, by a mechanic with the right tools and skills, whilst I’m holiday.  Basic stuff like lubing the chain and fixing punctures is about as far as I go.  However, I know there are many riders out there that love fitting upgraded gig.  If you are in that category, don’t bother reading on from this point.

The Breakaway

There are simple checks that you can do that will help maintain your bike and ensure that your bike is good working order.  The three minute check is probably something you are already doing sub-consciously.

The Peloton

The good thing about doing preventive maintenance and checking is that it might just save you money and time.  I’ve recently started riding my old Giant Sedona mountain bike to work.  I bought it in 1997 and its still going strong thanks to regular maintenance.

The 3- minute check

These are a good idea for a pre-race or ride check.  I try to do these the evening before going on a early morning ride.  I’ve forgotten how times I’ve had to pump up the tires or switch over dead lights at the last minute and thought ‘Gee, I wish I had done this last night.’

  1. Tyres should feel very firm to touch. The correct pressure is written on the sidewall of each tyre.
  2. Check the seat is at the correct height and the seat post is tightly inserted at least 5cm into the frame.
  3. Lift the handlebars, spin the front wheel, apply the brakes and check that the:
        • Wheel is properly secured in the forks
        • Quick release levers are secure
        • Wheel rotates freely without rubbing on the brakes
        • Gears and brakes operate smoothly and directly.
  4. Lift the seat, turn the pedals, spin the rear wheel, operate the gears and brakes, and apply the above four stage test again.
  5. If you are riding in light reduced conditions or bad weather, check your lights are charged and that your mud guards are secured tightly.
  6. Check that you have your pump and spare inner tube/puncture kit in good order.
  7. If you are riding a bike with suspension, check the ‘flex’ in front forks or rear frame for leaks or unexpected travel.

Weekly to Monthly maintenance

I’ve been doing this intermittently:

    • Cleaning and lubricating the chain.  If you are using an aerosol, make sure you don’t use it an area like carpet (nasty stains) or floor boards/vinyl (slippery surface).  My wife is still grumpy with me from the last time I did this.
    • Checking wheel spokes and eyelets for rust or damage
    • Checking tyre pressures, particularly before take out a machine you haven’t ridden for a while.
    • Checking tyres for wear, splits or perishing in the rubber.
    • Check ingwheel bearings, chain, gear cluster, front cogs and head stem handlebars.
    • If you own a bike with suspension this is good one to check regularly.

These are typically what I get my local mechanic to look at:

    • The wheel bearings, chain, gear cluster (back chain wheels), chain rings (front cogs) and head stem (handlebars).
    • Determine whether the chain needs replacing.  Keep in mind that the chain and gear cluster tend y wear out evenly, so this may need replacing as well.