Thursday night, metalepticfit and I hit the Bike Church where he once again took me under his wing for a little bike maintenance and restoration. The new vehicle, as yet unnamed, proved to be an...interesting...basis for rebuild. When I first laid eyes on the bike, I thought it was a fixed-gear, but when I started pushing it around, I realized it wasn't; it was single-gear, but freewheel-style so that I could still coast. When I got it home and Jeff checked it out, he informed me that actually it could be switched between fixed-gear and freewheel, so...well, there ya go.
For my own part, I opted to shoot for freewheel mode because fixed-gear is too new and scary for me to take on. With that in mind, the first order of business was then adding a rear brake to the bike, since it formerly only had a front brake. (That was pretty much one of only two major functional changes that I made to the bike from its original form, the other of which came much later.) That whole process, though, afforded an opportunity to redo the front brake, too, though, which ended ultimately in a new set of levers (the part you squeeze) and some new cable housings.
The bulk of the work was cleaning and regreasing the major moving parts, which in this case meant the headset (the part that lets the front wheel turn right and left) and the bottom bracket (the part that lets the pedals go round). Both of those assemblies got completely taken apart, cleaned of old grease and grit, dressed up with brand spanking new grease, and then put back together. Working on that stuff was probably the most satisfying part of the whole process, since it involved the most work, parts, tool use, and getting dirty. Good times! Missing from this moving part overhaul was any monkeying around with the wheel hubs, but that's for another time.
With the major moving parts restored, the more crucial aspects now had to be addressed: the wheels. The rear wheel was actually in pretty decent shape, with only one spoke needing to be replaced. The one glaring remaining issue in that area, though, is that there's a big tear in the rear tire, so...that still needs to be addressed. Not sure yet if that's going to mean a whole new tire or not. The front wheel needed a little more attention, being what cyclists call "out-of-true" -- basically the rim was irregularly warped away from what should be the center of the wheel. This condition can be (and was) addressed with a special device called a "truing stand" and a process that basically consists of changing the tension on the appropriate spokes until the rim is more or less a flat ring again. It was clear that the front wheel has seen a lot of action, and the rim also, sadly, contained a pretty serious dent, so it will likely have to be replaced. I think the tube needed to be patched, too, but Jeff did that part and I wasn't paying attention. :)
Other than hitting those major spots -- the headset, the bottom bracket, the brakes, and the wheels -- we made adjustments to the other stuff, getting the seat and handlebars worked out, fixing the one broken toe clip...just whatever was needed to get the thing in a semblance of working order. We figure we put about five or six hours in on the job. I personally find that pretty cool, considering I walked in there with some bolted-together parts in one hand and a loose wheel in the other and walked out with a working bicycle. :) In fact, it was working so well that I got to bicycle my way back home, which is the first time I've been on a bike since the burglary. Suh-weet! Also I tried out toe clips for the first time, and so far I've come to the conclusion that they're not for me.
Toe clips are like these strap-and-bracket contrivances that attach to your pedal, and you stick your foot into them, basically to fasten your foot to the pedal. It's nice in the general case because you can make use of the pedal's upstroke as well as the downstroke, but it's almost necessary in the case of riding a fixed gear, because that's kind of the only way to slow down. They're not really my cup of tea for two reasons. One, they're not really made for bicycling Sasquatches like myself, and so my foot doesn't really fit inside. The effect of this is that when I try to use the toe clips, I can't slide my foot as far forward on the pedal as I want to, and I end up pushing the pedal with my toes, which is uncomfortable. :) Two, I don't yet feel I'm at the level of confidence (or competence) that I should really be attached to my bicycle that way. :) It's very scary to me when I can't immediately move my foot from the pedal to the ground, as I learned last night when coming to an abrupt stop or two. ;) Which brings me to the second major functional change I made to the bike form it's original form: today, I took those toe clips right off. :)
Anyway. So now I have a more-or-less working bicycle again. Thanks go out to kawaiiryuko for passing along the hand-me-down in my time of need. (Thanks also to my other offers, you guys!) And of course...much gratitude to metalepticfit, wrench extraordinaire, for his invaluable lessons and help in the ways of bike mechanics.
I'm actually still kinda considering this as a work-in-progress, since I'm still slightly scared of taking the bike out for regular usage. :) Here's a list of things still on my to-do list, vaguely in order from highest priority to lowest:
- Wheel hub maintenance - I think both wheels need the hubs redone. The front wheel squeaks terribly, and Jeff said he saw "play" on the back wheel, so...yeah. Gotta do that.
- Replace front rim - That deformity on the front rim doesn't just spell structural imperfection; it also creates a functional hazard in that every revolution of the front wheel causes the ding to knock into the front brake arm. I could actually address this by loosening the front brakes, which I may yet do, but that renders them less effective, and only masks the problem without addressing it.
- Fix/replace rear tire - Jeff had me try a jury-rigged tire patch at the Bike Church, which may or may not be staving off a disaster. In any case, the tube is kinda bulging out of the hole, which basically puts me like a gnat's fart away from a blowout, so...I should probably do something soon about that.
- Get lock and lamps - The bike thieves got my lights and my bike lock, so I have to replace them. No lights means no going out at night, and no lock basically means no leaving the bike anywhere. :) I thought about something a while back, too...when the thieves took my bike, they ended up with my lock, but no keys. Nobody won in that exchange. ;)
- Replace handlebars - This is a pretty low priority item, but I find my current handlebars pretty short. I know that shorter handlebars are the trend these days, especially for urban bikes, but it's just not my thing. I'm a wide guy, and I'm basically never in a hurry; I'll go for stability over performance any time.
- Replace pedals - This is basically always on the list. ;) But besides my apparent propensity for breaking pedals, I also am always on the lookout for bigger pedals. Again, stability (and durability) over performance for this cyclist.
Anyhoo. One of Jeff's friends at Bike Church would probably want to see an additional item on that list: replacing the chain. But I say nay! I don't care what they say...I like my purple chain. ;)
In any case...in honor of this large step being taken in recovery from the break-in and theft of my previous bike, I'd like to pass on this link that my pal yeemomma sent along to me a little while ago: a funny "stolen bike" sign.
If I think about it later on, maybe I'll try to snap a pic of the new ride. Until then, have a great weekend. Peace out, everybody!