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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 07-22-08, 10:22 AM   #1
rjs0702
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New to making changes with my bike, a few questions...

I have had my trek 1000sl road bike for about a year now but only seriously picked up riding this summer and have learned I want to change a few things on my bike. My first question deals with my rear brake. The question is how do I adjust the rear brake so it isn't so tight on my wheel, I always have to ride with my back brakes open and its not very effective when I brake. So how do I just open the brake up a little bit off the wheel? My second question is how do I make adjustments to my front deraileur? When I'm in the middle ring, of my three rings up front, it always sounds like its rubbing against the deraileur and just makes a nasty sound I don't like so I usually have to skip the middle ring. Any tips?
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Old 07-22-08, 11:17 AM   #2
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There's a barrel adjuster on the brake. Screw it in further.

http://www.parktool.com/repair/readhowto.asp?id=20

There's probably a barrel adjuster on the right side of your down tube. Unscrew it to push the cage towards the bigger ring. Screw it in further to push the cage towards the smaller ring.

http://www.parktool.com/repair/readhowto.asp?id=75
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Old 07-22-08, 11:21 AM   #3
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Thanks. I'll give that a try.
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Old 07-22-08, 03:31 PM   #4
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Better yet, find a bike mechanic.
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Old 07-22-08, 04:06 PM   #5
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Better yet, find a bike mechanic.
-1.

Be the bike mechanic. Learn to make the minor adjustments (and fix flats!) and you'll save a lot of trips to the LBS.

**edit** And also check out derailleur adjustment information (and a ton of other stuff at): http://www.sheldonbrown.com/ (may he rest in peace).

Look at the "Do-it-Yourself" section.
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Old 07-22-08, 05:35 PM   #6
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I'm going to have to say no on that DMF, I would rather learn how to make adjustments to my bike myself so I know how to do it and know my bike better and what I like and don't. Dstrong thats more my speed and I'll check out that website. I know the tail needs to come out some and that the whole FD its self needs to come out a little from the bike so the chain doesnt rub.
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Old 07-22-08, 06:17 PM   #7
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Better yet, find a bike mechanic.
Umm... Isn't that what this forum is supposed to be?
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Old 07-22-08, 06:22 PM   #8
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I'm going to have to say no on that DMF, I would rather learn how to make adjustments to my bike myself so I know how to do it and know my bike better and what I like and don't. Dstrong thats more my speed and I'll check out that website. I know the tail needs to come out some and that the whole FD its self needs to come out a little from the bike so the chain doesnt rub.
Cables tend to "stretch" over time. (they don't really stretch, but the effect is similar) Usually both deraileur cables will need a 1/4 to 1/2 turn out on the barrel adjuster 100 miles or so after changing cables or setting up the bike.

Is your problem with the rear brake caused by side to side motion of the rear rim? If so, a better fix than opening up the brake is to adjust the spoke tension and get that rim running straight.
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Old 07-22-08, 07:03 PM   #9
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The wheels are brand new and not out of true at all, I had them checked at my LBS when I got them put on. My brakes have that little flip switch thing on them which tightens them down and when I do that the brakes are slam on the wheel and the wheel won't spin at all. So every time I ride I have to have the switch flipped open and the brakes aren't as efficient this way. I want to know how I can have the switch closed and the brakes in proper position just a little off the wheel. So its strictly a brake problem, the wheels are fine. Its funny how simple brakes work but I cant figure out how to open them up just a little bit.
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Old 07-22-08, 07:43 PM   #10
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On the rear brakes, you just need a little less tension on the cable. Both Sheldon Brown's site as well as Park can be a big help for budding do-it-yourselfers. The tension on your front Der. is just a little loose so a 1/2 turn or so will likely make it all better. Be aware that some road shifters have a micro-shift on the middle ring where there are actually two positions on the way up and through the middle ring. Try this. Shift from the granny ring to the middle with the chain on one of the larger sprockets in the rear. Then push the shifter about half way to the next shift. If yours is equipped with this, you will get a slight movement that will clear up the rubbing. I found this on mine but the LBS was not aware of it.
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Old 07-22-08, 09:32 PM   #11
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I'm going to have to say no on that DMF, I would rather learn how to make adjustments to my bike myself
Fine, but get the bike working right first. Then you can ride it while reading up and buying tools and parts.
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Old 07-23-08, 02:23 AM   #12
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..My brakes have that little flip switch thing on them which tightens them down and when I do that the brakes are slam on the wheel and the wheel won't spin at all. So every time I ride I have to have the switch flipped open and the brakes aren't as efficient this way. I want to know how I can have the switch closed and the brakes in proper position just a little off the wheel.
That sounds like a quick-release. It's purpose is to relax the brakes so that the wheel can be removed without the tire catching on the brake pads. It's no wonder you're getting poor braking with the QR open.

You have two options: (assuming caliper, "horse shoe shaped" brakes)
1) There should be a barrel adjuster down by the brake. It'll look like a knurled screw that the cable runs through. The cable sheath should be seated in a recess in the screw's knurled head.
There should be a locknut there too.
If the bike is set up properly this screw should be set in the middle of its adjustment range. Back the locknut off up towards the knurled head and then screw in the barrel adjuster.(righty tighty). This effectively lengthens the cable and should cause the brake pads to back off enough to get the wheels spinning.
2) if the bike isn't set up properly ith might already have the barrel adjuster in the fully screwed in position. Some prefer it that way, as it allows you to get more wear out of your brake pads before having to reset the where the cable clamps to the brake.
If this is the case with your bike you have to identify the right tool to loosen the cable where it's clamped to the brake(usually an Allen key). Then undo the cable clamp, allow maybe 5 mm of cable to slip out and retighten the cable clamp.

If you have flat bar controls on your bike you probably have barrel adjusters on your brake levers, particularly if you have canti- or V-brakes.
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Old 07-23-08, 11:33 AM   #13
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When I put new brakes on, I almost always wind up with them too tight. I squeeze the brake really hard and it usually backs the brake off a couple of millimeters. It gets a good amount of stretching out of the way early, too.

You won't break the cable or anything. The system's designed to take it.

If that doesn't work, your cable's too short. Here's how I adjust:

1: loosen the adjuster barrel so it shows some thread on the adjuster side. Several millimeters is good. This gives you some play.
2: Loosen the nut that holds the cable to the brake caliper.
3: Squeeze the brakes closed while you pull the cable taught (but not tight) with a cable puller.
4: Tighten the cable nut.
5: Tighten the barrel adjuster back up so the threads disappear.

... but even more than this process, I'd suggest a book. It'll get you up to speed on basics like this really quickly.
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