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  1. #1
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    Many Hilarious Things

    Good evening, and hello. I'm new to this place..

    ...and I am here because I recently gained a free bike. Well, about three weeks ago to be truthful. I'm a poor, poor student and a friend generously gifted me her road bike, since she no longer has use for it and I live five or six miles along the coast from where I need to be every day.

    Just to be clear, I have no idea about these things you call bicycles, other than the basics.

    Anyway predictably (I guess..) for I bike that has been out of use for a while (and knowing my friend, probably never saw any professional maintenance) it is a little, shall we say, rough around the edges.

    Now I've taken it in to bike shops and been told that it must immediately be booked in for a complete service, and that's marvellous, except that at upwards of 50 not including parts I most certainly can not afford it.

    So I thought I'd turn to the massed knowledge of the interweb and combine that with my superior mechanical skills (read: completely average mechanical skills) in order to address the most pressing issues. Which, now that I've waffled on about other things for what seems like weeks, are these:

    [1] - Sometimes (not always), putting a lot of weight on a pedal (either one) causes the rear wheel to become mis-aligned, to the point where the tyre comes into contact with the frame on the left hand side, causing rubbing and slowing down and anger and fury. This has happened several times, and each time I have managed to 'fix' the problem by flipping the bike over and realigning the wheel and re-tightening the quick-release etc. However it seems very random as to whether it will work immediately, and I have to try several times to get it to stay. I'm never sure what changes when it does work. I replaced the spring in the quick-release thingy on the back axle, and the problem seemed to go away for a while...

    [2] - Probably related to [1]. Occasionally, instead of twisting the wheel as mentioned above, my hard efforts in the pedalling area will re rewarded with what feels like chain slippage (as if the chain comes off for a second and then catches again with a bang).

    Now the gears are also fairly reluctant to change, but I suspect the wires need changing or something to that effect. Having said that, I almost never cycle anywhere where there is a significant hill to be climbed, so I have entertained the crazy notion of removing the derailer and shifting gubbins entirely and just leaving it in one mid to high gear (much like the one it stays in now).

    So...if you made it this far...do these things sound like things I could fix? Is it sensible to go casting away gear-changing equipment? Am I stupid for riding almost 300 miles on this thing in it's current condition?

    Vote now.

    Thanks for any help

  2. #2
    Senior Member JReade's Avatar
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    1. I've seen an old quick release be fairly worn, so the gripping teeth on the QR have worn away.



    You can make them out on this, the silver part facing in. That is the section that bites into the dropouts (part the axle slides into), and there should be ones on the axle as well. I would try a new QR, and these can be had cheaply, before venturing further with that.

    2. This could be a number of things. A stuck link in the chain can cause some skipping, the rear freewheel could be work out, or a combination of both. Since the chain and freewheel often wear together, it's common to just replace both.

    2a. You'll have to remove the "shifting gubbins", and shorten the chain, so you may need the local bike shop to help, unless you have the chain tool. It might be worth putting some lubricant (not wd40) into the derailleurs and shifters to see if that frees things up. Cables are cheap.
    Jesse

  3. #3
    Senior Member Monster Pete's Avatar
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    Problem 1 points to the rear wheel not being tight enough- the chain tension pulls it forward on the right hand side. Tighten it up using the thumbscrew until you physically can't close the lever, then back it off a bit. It should be quite an effort to close the quick-release lever. You can't get it anything like tight enough simply by turning it like a wingnut.

    Problem 2 could be several things, including a worn chain or sprockets, or could be related to the shifting problem.

    Problem 3 sounds like the derailleur may need to be cleaned- they commonly get jammed with road crud if not looked after. A good clean up, new cables and cable housings and general readjusting may solve this. Another cause could be the derailleur itself being bent, in which case you should just get a new one. How many gears do you have on the bike?

    Single speed is always an option if it suits you, and you can do it quite simply by removing the derailleurs and shortening the chain appropriately for the gear you choose. If you have more gears than you need, personally I'd prefer to remove the front derailleur and set the chain on the middle chainring (or small if you only have a double crankset) and just use the rear derailleur.
    I've got a bike, you can ride if you like it's got a basket, a bell that rings and things to make it look good- Pink Floyd, 1967

  4. #4
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    NCEL

    You have neither the understanding nor the skill needed to fix the issues you describe.
    Those come at the price of hands-on experience which can not be gained on the interwebs.
    You can not be helped on this forum.

    Going to a bike shop is your only option. Otherwise, you are going to ultimately ruin the bike, get hurt - or both.

  5. #5
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    In Portland, the Community Cycling Center offers training for newbies and the economically less-well-endowed. Training time can be worked off with volunteer hours.

    Good basic information is available at http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help and http://www.sheldonbrown.com/ .
    Jeff Wills

    All my bikes.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by IK_biker View Post
    NCEL

    You have neither the understanding nor the skill needed to fix the issues you describe.
    Those come at the price of hands-on experience which can not be gained on the interwebs.
    You can not be helped on this forum.

    Going to a bike shop is your only option. Otherwise, you are going to ultimately ruin the bike, get hurt - or both.
    I don't think these problems are that serious. Anyone with basic mechanical aptitude can quickly learn basic bicycle repair.

    I think the solution to Problem #1 has already been explained by the other members here. The OP needs a new quick release. Those are cheap and easy to install.

    Problem #2 could have several causes, all of which are easy to fix. New chains are cheap and easy to install with a $10 chain tool that a bike shop can show the OP how to use. If a new freewheel is required, the bike shop can install that for a small amount of money. Cleaning the derailleur would be simple. New shift cables and housing are cheap and the shop can install them for very little money.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Captain Blight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IK_biker View Post
    NCEL

    You have neither the understanding nor the skill needed to fix the issues you describe.
    Those come at the price of hands-on experience which can not be gained on the interwebs.
    You can not be helped on this forum.

    Going to a bike shop is your only option. Otherwise, you are going to ultimately ruin the bike, get hurt - or both.
    I'm sorry, I have to disagree. The questions as posed are very solvable, and all the answers given will certainly help NCEL at least make a stab at fixing the problems.

    There is very little about a bike that's complicated. Some of it may be mysterious to the newcomer, but fortunately there are a lot of resources specifically devoted to shining light into previously unknown corners.

    www.Sheldonbrown.com is the first of these that springs to mind, and of course Bikeforums. **EDIT** Whoops, I see this is a repeat of Post 5. Well, I suppose it's such good advice it bears repeating!


    Don't take the naysayers to seriously, NCEL. It just sounds like SOMEONE had a big glass of Haterade today.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Blight View Post
    I'm sorry, I have to disagree. The questions as posed are very solvable, and all the answers given will certainly help NCEL at least make a stab at fixing the problems.
    From the way the OP has described the issues with the bike, would say that for the OP, they are not solvable, as the OP does not seem to have the knowlage to do this. it's fine asking questions, but if you can't put the result into practice, there no point.

    For the OP going to their LBS, 50 is reasonable for a service in the UK, as the OP is as asking in , have to take it thay are from the UK. If you can't fix it on your own, find a friend who can help, or take it to a bike shop, and pay for it to be fixed properly, you got the bike for free after all.

  9. #9
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    Evening all once again

    First, yes indeed I am from the UK. Well deduced Down in Brighton, I am.

    JReade, Monster Pete, Jeff Wills, relyt, Captain Blight - thank you very kindly for the advice and info. I've tightened the rear wheel with the existing QR and preliminary tests show good results. I will purchase a new set anyway, to be safe. As for the gears, I have determined that the derailer is not bent or out of shape so far as I can see. I have seen a few online guides on replacing gear wires and such, and I'm pretty sure I can handle it. This will have to wait a little while but it shall be done.
    The bike was behaving itself pretty well today (although I didn't try to change gear or anything fancy like that) so I'll undertake these repairs as and when I have the cash for parts.

    In other news - I did not intent such a controversial first topic! I am saddened to hear that I can not be helped, although I think this may already be out-of-date information (thanks again folks).

    I re-read my initial post. Seems I may have come across as a bit of a cheapskate there, with the whole not wanting to pay for a service thing. Allow me to rephrase a little: it's not that I don't want to pay for the repairs, or that I have anything against the fine folks down at the bike shop(s) - it is that I literally can't spend that much money on the bike. Don't have it. It's not available for me to withhold even if I wanted to.

    This is fine: for the last six months or so I walked in every day (from slightly closer accommodation mind) and were the bike to be swept away by the furious ocean, I would walk again. Bike = bonus, I was lucky to have it donated to me, but as an unexpected arrival it finds no place in my budget.

    Hence the polite internet-based questions and over-long message posts.. to see if I could DIY my way around these issues a bit.

    And if my questions merely led to the realisation that I could not hope to address the problems by myself, well, then that's still an answer and it was worth asking.

    Cheers

    BTW - Hatorade, brilliant. New one for me.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Monster Pete's Avatar
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    I think that if you have some basic mechanical skills and can follow directions, there's not much you can't do yourself on a bike- they're not complicated machines really. Sheldon Brown's website is massively popular as a resource, and with good reason. If you've got a bike problem of any kind, chances are the late Mr. Brown will have written something about it. It's a great place to learn about bicycle mechanics, particularly if you have a cheap bike to fiddle with. I find working on bikes to be quite enjoyable, and get satisfaction from turning a barely rideable heap of metal into a working bike again.
    I've got a bike, you can ride if you like it's got a basket, a bell that rings and things to make it look good- Pink Floyd, 1967

  11. #11
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    Your bike is in need of some basic maintenance. Your rear wheel slipping is due to the quick release not being on right.
    1) Those springs just make it easier to get on and off. However, if your axle isn't centered, they can make the quick release bottom out on the spring instead of on the dropout directly. Assuming you have tightened them, you might try removing the springs. Put them somewhere safe as they are really easy to lose, and this probably isn't the issue.
    2a) Aluminum quick releases on frames with steel dropouts nearly never work well.
    2b) Quick releases like the one shown above are also a pretty crappy design. The internal cam style, while not as pretty, is a significantly better design. In my experience even old rusty internal cam quick releases (also always steel) are better than the new ones. Every shop I've ever been in has used internal cam quick releases for sale at a rate of a couple $ each.
    2c) If that didn't make sense, or even if it did, read this: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/skewers.html
    3) Your cables probably need to be replaced, but until then a bit (bunch) of a thin lubricant like Triflow will be a significant help.
    4) Given this, I think we can assume that your chain needs to be properly lubed. Clean it first (a rag will do for now), then add 1 drop per link. Opinions vary, but Triflow is good for that too. Run the cranks around a couple times, then wipe off the excess. Remember, you want to lube the inside of the chain, not the outside. WD-40 is NOT a lubricant for this (or really any) purpose.
    5) If you don't have one, get a helmet. I know you don't have any money, but as someone who's broken a few due to things not in my control, it's worth eating noodles for a couple weeks so you can buy a cheap one.

    Report back on the results of this, and let us know how it turns out. We can better advise you at that point.

  12. #12
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    I've owned a bike that flexed the rear wheel into the frame. I believe the frame was either thinned by rusting or was cracked somewhere. It had a bolt-on rear wheel so the problem was not caused by the QR being loose.

    Anyway, inspect for cracks. They will more likely be near the joints than the middle of a tube. Pull the frame tubes apart from one another as you inspect. It may make damage more obvious.

  13. #13
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    I don't replace the cables on my old bikes unless they are frayed or the housings are kinked or cracked. Flushing them out or simply oiling them is all they usually need.

  14. #14
    old fart
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimc101 View Post
    From the way the OP has described the issues with the bike, would say that for the OP, they are not solvable, as the OP does not seem to have the knowlage to do this. it's fine asking questions, but if you can't put the result into practice, there no point.
    ^^ This.
    No haterade. Agree that bikes are simple. Everything about them is relatively easily solvable.
    Then there is the so called "tacit knowledge", of which the OP has not demonstrated to have any. It can not be acquired on a forum.

  15. #15
    bike whisperer Kimmo's Avatar
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    OP may have a hard time figuring out what's what, given he (?) thought the spring in the QR had something to do with clamping the wheel...

    But anyway, a bit of persistence and applied nous should get you there... for a start, I doubt you need new QRs; you've prolly solved the issue already. I find it's usually about right if the QR starts to bite when the lever's halfway home, ie in line with the axle. +1 if your cables aren't kinked or frayed, you can prolly get away without replacing them, just clean and lube them.

    However, it sounds like your chain and sprockets may be worn... if you still get the chain jumping issue after you have the indexing dialled in (so the derailleur's upper pulley sits directly below each cog you shift it to), then it's prolly worn. You can measure 24 (tensioned) links to see if it's much over 12"; any more than 1/8" over means it's toast. Unfortunately, it'll cost you a bit to replace the chain and cogs (prolly something like 30 quid)... you can avoid the chain skipping somewhat by spinning faster in a lower gear.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by NCEL View Post
    BTW - Hatorade, brilliant. New one for me.
    If you mean me, not intended, just the way you have written everything gives no indication that you have any mechanical knowlage, and don't want to pay for a clearly needed bike service; even the title of your post is strange.

    Home servicing a bike if a one off, is no cheaper, and will often be more expensive than going to a bike shop, if you don't have the tools, or the knowlage, and cause more damage than was there originally.

    For where you are located, you have many good bike shops near you, Rayments & Sidney Street Cycles are good, and have a look at G-Whizz for really cheap bits. For cheap spares like cables, and brake pads, look at Wilkinson.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Monster Pete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jccaclimber View Post
    Your bike is in need of some basic maintenance. Your rear wheel slipping is due to the quick release not being on right.
    1) Those springs just make it easier to get on and off. However, if your axle isn't centered, they can make the quick release bottom out on the spring instead of on the dropout directly. Assuming you have tightened them, you might try removing the springs. Put them somewhere safe as they are really easy to lose, and this probably isn't the issue.
    2a) Aluminum quick releases on frames with steel dropouts nearly never work well.
    2b) Quick releases like the one shown above are also a pretty crappy design. The internal cam style, while not as pretty, is a significantly better design. In my experience even old rusty internal cam quick releases (also always steel) are better than the new ones. Every shop I've ever been in has used internal cam quick releases for sale at a rate of a couple $ each.
    2c) If that didn't make sense, or even if it did, read this: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/skewers.html
    3) Your cables probably need to be replaced, but until then a bit (bunch) of a thin lubricant like Triflow will be a significant help.
    4) Given this, I think we can assume that your chain needs to be properly lubed. Clean it first (a rag will do for now), then add 1 drop per link. Opinions vary, but Triflow is good for that too. Run the cranks around a couple times, then wipe off the excess. Remember, you want to lube the inside of the chain, not the outside. WD-40 is NOT a lubricant for this (or really any) purpose.
    5) If you don't have one, get a helmet. I know you don't have any money, but as someone who's broken a few due to things not in my control, it's worth eating noodles for a couple weeks so you can buy a cheap one.

    Report back on the results of this, and let us know how it turns out. We can better advise you at that point.
    Good advice, but please don't turn this into another helmet thread- we've got plenty of them that usually end the same way, and it's not the issue being discussed here.
    I've got a bike, you can ride if you like it's got a basket, a bell that rings and things to make it look good- Pink Floyd, 1967

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monster Pete View Post
    Good advice, but please don't turn this into another helmet thread- we've got plenty of them that usually end the same way, and it's not the issue being discussed here.
    That's why I put it last on the list rather than first, and made it my shortest comment.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimc101 View Post
    From the way the OP has described the issues with the bike, would say that for the OP, they are not solvable, as the OP does not seem to have the knowlage to do this. it's fine asking questions, but if you can't put the result into practice, there no point.
    The usual way to handle this--as you will eventually encounter some analogous situation where you need to do something you are completely unqualified for--is to abandon the whole thing and do research for a while. Read everything about bikes. Read about how bikes work mechanically, how bike physics work, how humans power bikes, how different components actually operate and interact. Load up on a pile of knowledge.

    Then you come back, and you take a stab at something you don't rightly understand.

    The thing is, after a month or two, with all that stuff sinking in, you've at least got a basis to question what you're doing. If something doesn't work out, you tend to notice. When something is right or near-right, you tend to be unsure; okay, so you "fix" it and it's "close" and you can't really tell if it's "close" or "right," but that's better than just randomly throwing things together and hoping for the best.

    This usually works out with a few life lessons (you quickly realize it's close, but not close enough), but nothing catastrophic. Usually if you find the first solution-to-problem and slap it together, you run a high risk of doing something catastrophic and having no idea what you did wrong.

    So yeah, with some care and patience, it's totally doable. Even better is having a mentor who can stand there and stop you from creating a rather engaging demonstration of wild stupidity, but that's not always an option. I learned to build guitar amps myself, with zero prior EE experience, and I had 720V lightning shot at me for a mistake doing that (wired the high voltage leads across the switch, instead of one HV and one CT for 360V) once. Beyond that, everything worked out. I assure you, mucking about with a bicycle will not involve jabbing probes into active high-energy vacuum tube circuits, and you are less likely to die if you don't expose yourself to live 400+V circuitry to adjust a cathode bias. The worst you can likely do if you're reasonably careful is break it.
    Own: 2010 GT Tachyon 3.0
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  20. #20
    Elitist Troglodyte DMF's Avatar
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    Welcome New Poster. Please READ THIS
    Stupidity got us into this mess - why can't it get us out?

    - Will Rogers

  21. #21
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    I've certainly been reading a lot of bike-related stuff, indeed. Particularly the websites mentioned here. I think I have a fairly good selection of theories and potential solutions to bear in mind and apply, so thanks for all the advice.

    My apologies for acting like a 'newbie', I guess that's why I'm labelled as such in bright red over there... I guess I broke the golden rule of forums and didn't search for my issue to begin with. Having said that, I not sure I could have summed the problem up succinctly enough to make search terms from it.. lesson learned, either way.

    Jimc101 - not at all. I merely meant that I was amused by the phrase and hadn't heard it used before. I was not directing it back at anyone Wish someone would hurry up and invent a font that communicates tone-of-voice to prevent such misunderstandings...

    bluefoxicy, good points. I'm a novice and as such I need to learn many things before I stop making mistakes, but I'm figuring it out. A few weeks ago I was alarmed when I saw gears on the bike but nothing mounted to the handlebars to change them with.
    Also, I know a great many people who have injured themselves prodding around inside amplifiers. I play drums; less electricity flying around inside those by far

    And finally - I have a helmet

  22. #22
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    By now you must realize that you'll need a few tools to work on your bike. And NO a set of slip joint pliers and an old screwdriver are NOT enough...

    Hopefully you'll have access to a basic set of metric allen keys and wrenches. From there I'm afraid if you're going it on your own that there are a few specialty tools that you will need to buy.. or make.

    A thin cone wrench is one such specialty item. However you CAN make one if you can find an old open end wrench and can borrow a grinder for a while.

    Similarly if you can get a scrap of 1/8 inch steel and can borrow a hand drill you can quite easily make your own chain whip with an old chain scaveneged from a bike shop if they'll take pity on you in this hour of student need in return for your business later when you have actual cash in hand.

    What you need to replace the lack of money is mostly time in a lot of cases. Until you can put together a few home made tools to do these specialty jobs you may find that you're back to walking or taking the bus or train for a day or two here and there.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  23. #23
    Elitist Troglodyte DMF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NCEL View Post
    And finally - I have a helmet
    Ah, but do you wear it?
    Stupidity got us into this mess - why can't it get us out?

    - Will Rogers

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