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Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

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Old 07-03-07, 02:37 AM   #1
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Hints and tricks thread

I thought it would be a good thing to have a thread where people post and discuss little tricks they came up, during the course of their cycling and bike-repair experience.

One trick I have: I noticed that, no matter how good the rubber insulation on the battery lid of the cyclecomputer, in the Finnish wintery rains, at least a tiny little bit of water will make its way in, and cause a little bit of condensate inside. That might be just a cosmetic problem, or it could drain your battery's life, depending on the amount and place of condensation. This is even much more pronounced with bike lights, where the water can find much larger "holes" on the lid (much longer edge), and the insulation is usually worse than with cyclecomputers.

My solution is to put a little bit of lithium grease on the strategic places. Lithium grease is hydro-repellant and very stable. Together with the existing insulation, it will provide nearly 100% security against water infiltrations. Try to avoid getting it on the contacts with the cradle, even though it's not critical.

Last edited by wroomwroomoops; 08-22-07 at 01:59 AM.
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Old 07-03-07, 02:55 AM   #2
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Another tip: if you find yourself cycling in some place in Africa, Indonesia etc. temporarily without access to good lubricants for your bike components, be it chain or bearings, you can use coconut oil. It will work fine for all the components that need lubing (usually it's the chain to cause these emergencies) and it's impervious to peroxidation. (in fact, coconut oil, virgin or refined, has the lowest peroxidation index of all organic non-mineral oils). In other words, it won't get rancid for a very long time.

It's less than ideal in very cold climates, but in the above example that's not a problem.
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Old 07-03-07, 06:20 AM   #3
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Silicone grease is available at most hardware and plumbing supply stores and is even better for waterproofing connections. Putting a light dab on the contacts of a cyclometer, both on the head and the mount, will make them nearly storm and corrosion proof. Silicone grease won't attack plastics or rubber the way petroleum based grease can.
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Old 07-03-07, 06:23 AM   #4
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Dont accidently stick your fingers in disc brake rotors.
Dont accidently cut your fingertip off cleaining a fixed gear chain.

When doing a repair job layout all the tools you expect to use beforehand, so you dont have to waste time looking and you wont loose things in your own mess.

Grease in a tub gets contaminated, grease from tube not so much.

Depending on job, its not always lefty loosey righty tighty

Keep a long steel "fixin pipe" around, you can put it on the ends of wrenches and get tons more leverage

Channel Lock Pliers is an awesome BB tool for one piece cranks or anything that requires a really big crescent wrench. (at the shop we call it the Park CL-FFET, fix f***in everything tool)

Lube everything that turns.

When tuneing up a bike, start from the front and work your way back so you dont miss anything.

Turn off cell phone when building wheels.

If it dosent work after trying to fix it for several hours, cuss at it.

If your tube goes flat, rub it more. (just kidding)

When adjusting cable tension on a rear derailer, shift to the hardest gear and run the barrel adjuster all the way in. Then shift one click, and turn the barrel adjuster until the chain jumps up a cog, then give it half a turn for good measure.

If indexing is off, your derailer hanger is probbly bent.

you can get a wheel decently true on the bike by tightening the brake calipers down as a guide.

Finally, try to refrain from beating on repair bikes with a hammer in front of customers. GOD knows that eventually you will need to beat something with a hammer or cut something off with a hacksaw, but the customers dont wanna see that kind of thing.
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Old 07-03-07, 07:43 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bassplayinbiker
Grease in a tub gets contaminated, grease from tube not so much.
Grease in a tub is MUCH cheaper. Grease in a tub that's transfered to a Duelco grease gun doesn't get contaminated.

Otherwise, a bunch of good suggestions!

Murphy's Law of Bicycle Mechanics: If you bring N tools to the job site, you will immediately need N+1. As soon as you get that tool, N+2 will immediately be required.

Corollary: No matter how many wrenches you bring, the one you need will be one size larger or smaller:
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Old 07-03-07, 07:50 AM   #6
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Everything is a hammer, some hammers are better than others.
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Old 07-03-07, 08:01 AM   #7
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If you have a front derailleur that's not shaped optimally for whatever sized large chainring you're using, a dremel tool can be used to reshape the derailleur cage. Example: I'm using a Shimano 105 FD with a 46t big ring, the FD is now shaped to fit the ring. Be aware, sparks do fly during the procedure (which is half the fun, really).

For real mountain biking (i.e. fat tires, relatively low air pressure), the approx. $60 it costs for a Stan's tubeless system kit is the best money you'll ever spend. That is, assuming you have conventional mtb rims and tires. If you've got a factory tubeless system already, whatever it costs for a container of Stan's sealant is the best money you'll ever spend-
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Old 07-03-07, 09:57 AM   #8
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I hope the following is an okay tip, because I'm still an amateur, and I only just picked it up from a 9-year-old! But it worked for me this morning.

When installing the back wheel of a singlespeed, where the chain tension is adjusted only by the placement of the axle on the dropouts (such as a kids coaster-brake bike), you can use any blunt tool as a lever between the bottom bracket (as the fulcrum) and the wheel so that you can keep the wheel pushed out with one hand while you ratchet the axle nuts with the other.

Another newbie (and I mean it) tip for working on kids' bikes that I just figured out myself last night: If you turn the bike upside down to work on it and the back wheel is resting on the floor so that you can't work with it, turn the bike back upright and raise the seat so that, when upside down, the seat rests on the floor instead, leaving the back wheel free to turn.
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Old 07-03-07, 09:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnBrooking
When installing the back wheel of a singlespeed, where the chain tension is adjusted only by the placement of the axle on the dropouts (such as a kids coaster-brake bike), you can use any blunt tool as a lever between the bottom bracket (as the fulcrum) and the wheel so that you can keep the wheel pushed out with one hand while you ratchet the axle nuts with the other.
There is a much simpler method for securing the wheel of a fixed gear/SS. Walk the wheel backwards in the dropouts.
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Old 07-03-07, 10:04 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by well biked
For real mountain biking (i.e. fat tires, relatively low air pressure), the approx. $60 it costs for a Stan's tubeless system kit is the best money you'll ever spend. That is, assuming you have conventional mtb rims and tires. If you've got a factory tubeless system already, whatever it costs for a container of Stan's sealant is the best money you'll ever spend-
I'm on the fence on this, I've yet to try it. I've got crossmax UST right now, but the ceramic coating for the braking is starting to chip so looks like I'll need a new wheelset next season. (hopefully they'll hold out for the rest of this one!)

I'm going with handbuilt, probably with something like 819's, but should I use regular rims (perhaps ztr even) and the stans? It seems like such a messy pain in the ass. Am I wrong?
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Old 07-03-07, 10:05 AM   #11
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By walking the wheel he means tighten one nut, slide the axle back on the opposite side, and then repeat for the other side. Usually once or twice will do it.
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Old 07-03-07, 10:17 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by I_bRAD
I'm on the fence on this, I've yet to try it. I've got crossmax UST right now, but the ceramic coating for the braking is starting to chip so looks like I'll need a new wheelset next season. (hopefully they'll hold out for the rest of this one!)

I'm going with handbuilt, probably with something like 819's, but should I use regular rims (perhaps ztr even) and the stans? It seems like such a messy pain in the ass. Am I wrong?
It can be a little messy when you are initially installing and sealing up the tires, but after that, you should rarely, if ever need to break the bead off the rim so there's no mess. Just do it outside. Stan's really does work.
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Old 07-03-07, 12:21 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I_bRAD
I'm on the fence on this, I've yet to try it. I've got crossmax UST right now, but the ceramic coating for the braking is starting to chip so looks like I'll need a new wheelset next season. (hopefully they'll hold out for the rest of this one!)

I'm going with handbuilt, probably with something like 819's, but should I use regular rims (perhaps ztr even) and the stans? It seems like such a messy pain in the ass. Am I wrong?
It has its pros and cons, but in my opinion it's well worth it. You pretty much take puncture flats out of the picture and you're able to run low tire pressures without any worry of pinch flats (I've NEVER had a flat with the Stan's sytem, which is amazing to me). I like the better ride quality and better traction of low pressure in my tires, that's one of the main reasons I like it. And in running conventional rims and tires, you've got pretty much unlimited mtb tire choices.

Stan used to be (maybe he still is, I don't know) an XC racer, and one of the original advantages he touted about the system is that it saves a little weight over a typical setup with tubes, so it was thought of as race-oriented. It certainly saves a good deal of weight compared to something like UST rims/tires if you use the system with a conventional setup. And I've talked to a lot of UST users who've struggled with flats and sometimes have trouble just getting the tires to hold air at all, and they say as soon as they added Stan's sealant to their tires the problems were solved. For a short while, this was all a big "secret", because the big companies who had invested so heavily in UST (Mavic, Michelin, Hutchinson, etc) didn't want to acknowledge that a product from a little start-up company like Stan's Notubes worked with their UST system to get satisfactory results. The downside is definitely the original setup, it takes a time or two to get the hang of it. I've used it for four or five years now, and I actually enjoy setting a tire/rim up with it now. I would definitely recommend using an air compressor to do the initial inflation, but once that's done you only have to do it again when you need to replenish the sealant. I put a little more sealant in than is recommended, and I've gone as long as a year without refilling with sealant; so all in all, it's very low maintenance. Just check the tire pressure occasionally, top off the pressure with a hand pump as needed, and ride on-
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Old 07-23-07, 11:05 AM   #14
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Building/converting a singlespeed, but have vertical dropouts and no chain tensioner? Use an old rear derailer/derailleur, it'll work great! Not only does it have really good springs and pulleys (generally much better than separately buyable chain tensioners) and is MUCH cheaper than a separate chain tensioner, even if bought new, but a derailer has the most comfortable way of adjusting the chainline - just adjust the H limit screw!

The only drawback is that a derailer is usually heavier than a chain tensioner, but you can always get rid or a few little parts on the derailer, to make it a bit lighter.
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Old 07-23-07, 11:41 AM   #15
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When doing a repair job layout all the tools you expect to use beforehand, so you dont have to waste time looking and you wont loose things in your own mess.
Or keep all of your tools organized in a logical fashion rather than dumped somewhere. Remove what you need as you need it and return it to its place when you're done. This way you don't clean up piles of tools strewn all over the place when you're done and you can always find what you need.

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Depending on job, its not always lefty loosey righty tighty
More specifically, if you forget which way to turn the wrench to remove pedals try this: Move the crank to the three o'clock position. Apply the wrench to the flats on the pedal spindle so the wrench extends above the crank arm at an acute angle then squeeze the wrench and the crank together. It works on both sides.

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Keep a long steel "fixin pipe" around, you can put it on the ends of wrenches and get tons more leverage
And don't use it until you have asked yourself whether you really need it. See previous for reasons why you might not.

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If it dosent work after trying to fix it for several hours, cuss at it.
Then rethink what you're doing and why you're doing it. Don't just get a bigger hammer.
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Old 07-23-07, 04:30 PM   #16
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You got a bike with a Shimano Nexus 7 or Nexus 8 hub gear, with rollerbrakes, and while you really love it (and there's a lot to love about rollerbrakes, too, BTW), changing or repairing the rear tire is a bit of a pain in die arsh. Well, not necessarily so: if you have to fix/replace the inner tire, or replace the (outer) tire, you don't have to remove both the shifting and the brake cables - one will do, you don't need to completely separate the wheel from the bike, to do those tire repair/replacement operations.

If you have a coaster brake on that geared hub, then you'll have to unscrew the brake arm from the chainstay, obviously, but you still don't need to remove the shifter cable.

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Old 08-11-07, 07:52 AM   #17
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You've spent the best part of an hour trying to set the brakepads of your V-brakes or Cantilevers, but no matter what you do, either the left or the right pad touches the rim while no pressure is applied to the brake lever. You are silently going crazy.

Well, the rim might be out of true! If the only thing that fixes the problem is widening the brakepads, then that's a clear indication that this is indeed the case. Of course, if you widen the brakepads too much, you will have no braking power, so the only medicine is to true the wheel.
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Old 08-11-07, 08:38 AM   #18
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Dont accidently cut your fingertip off cleaining a fixed gear chain.
.

Actually this might not be a bad idea. My brother did this when he was 5 in a "Fixed Gear" Schwinn excercise bike. When he turned 18 he started getting a check on his BDay for $15,000 up untl his 23rd b-day or something like that. All together I think he came out with $85,000.
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Old 08-13-07, 06:51 AM   #19
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If you have a bike with a rear deraileur, or a singlespeed with a chain tensioner (which basically looks a lot like a rear derailleur, or if you check this post, you realize it can be EXACTLY a rear derailleur) and one day you realize there's a clicking noise coming from the rear wheel when you pedal - so you start playing with chainline, move the top pulley left and right, and just can't get completely rid of the clicking... did you perhaps remove the wheel (for maintenance, like replacing the tire, tube or cassette or truing the wheel) before the ride? It may be that the chainline is just fine - the way you adjusted it originally - but the axle of the rear wheel is not perfectly perpendicular to the midplane of the bicycle. Loosen the rear wheel bolts or QR and make sure you pull the rear wheel backwards while you're tightening them back.
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Old 08-13-07, 01:46 PM   #20
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I posted this before and someone thought it was a good tip so I'll add it again.

To get those plastic Shimano bottom bracket cups really tight, first install the bottom bracket and hand tighten the steel side. Back it off a half turn or so then install the plastic cup and torque it down as tight as you think you can without cracking it (I haven't experimented enough to find the torque spec for this but with plastic, you can pretty easily feel when it's getting to that point). Once the plastic side is in, torque the steel side which will then push against the plastic cup from the inside, effectively loading the threads just like torquing it would, but with less risk of cracking the cup or stripping the splines.

YMMV but this has worked for me on the 2 bottom brackets like this that I have installed. I'll be installing another and hopefully will remember to check the torque I've been using on the plastic cup to make this tip a little more useful.
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Old 08-13-07, 02:09 PM   #21
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Grease (or use anti-seize compound) on all metal-metal contacts. I'm not gonna touch the BB spindle issue, you figure that out yourself.
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Old 08-13-07, 04:33 PM   #22
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Murphy's Law of Bicycle Mechanics: If you bring N tools to the job site, you will immediately need N+1. As soon as you get that tool, N+2 will immediately be required.

Corollary: No matter how many wrenches you bring, the one you need will be one size larger or smaller:
And if you have the one wrench larger and the one wrench smaller, the one you need will be metric (or english standard).
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Old 08-13-07, 06:11 PM   #23
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Do everything in the most logical order.

Clean your bench before you begin working. Set a space aside for parts you're working with, so you won't lose them. Especially important when working with small screws and bearings.

Make sure the wheels are both straight in the dropouts and true before you adjust the brakes. Otherwise, you may waste your time tuning the brakes initially, because you'll have to reset and/or true the rim and then adjust the brakes again afterwards. This also applies when using the Park Tool DAG-1; if the rear wheel is crooked, so will be the derailleur hanger if you use the wheel as reference.

Make sure any part you're working with is in good condition before reinstalling it. If it's likely to cause problems, fix or replace the part now.

If a bike is giving you a really hard time, relax, kick back, have a beer, and try to think of a creative solution. Preferably more creative than just using brute force Subtract the beer if you're working at a shop, and have it after work instead. One example of changing the order of things depending on the particular circumstances.

Never, ever half-ass anything. If you do, it will come back to haunt you. Spend that little bit of extra time doing it right the first and only time, and you won't have to worry about it later. In the long run, this approach will save you time and headaches, and will also keep customers very happy. The only customer I've had come back with a problem with a bike I had worked on (aside from those who've broken or worn something of their own accord) was one with a disconnected front V-brake... I had disconnected the brake in order to remove the front wheel for transportation in her car. I assumed that she knew how to re-attach it Now I make sure customers know before seeing them off. Live and learn.
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Old 08-13-07, 06:24 PM   #24
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Clean your bench before you begin working. Set a space aside for parts you're working with, so you won't lose them. Especially important when working with small screws and bearings.
It's a good idea to keep bearings and screws in a container, like an old ash tray, so they don't roll away.
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Old 08-13-07, 08:08 PM   #25
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When you're attaching your cleats to your shoes, especially with MTB shoes, fill the hex holes with melted wax (just drip it off a candle). Then, when it's time to tighten/adjust/replace your cleats all you have to do is melt the wax out with a lighter rather then spend 10mins chipping out 2 years worth of well packed clay.
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