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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 04-30-13, 04:25 PM   #1
RubeRad
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FD fell off -- this ever happen to you?

So I'm coming to the end of a major (for me) operation where whole bikes' worth of components are getting swapped between frames. Sunday night I finish assembling bike B, bike A is still awaiting a part, so I decide to ride bike B until bike A is finished. "Just a day or two" I think, "I can chance riding light for that short time; no seatbag, no pump, no patch kit, no tools." Note to self, first ride after a frame-up rebuild, the proper attitude is "bring the whole toolkit because you never know what you might have borked up!"

Well on the way to work, I notice my FD is acting funny. It was well-aligned last night on the stand, but now it's rubbing a lot in the small cogs for both the middle and large chainrings. And hey that's weird, now it doesn't even want to drop to the small chainring. I shrug it off, figure I'll readjust when I get home. Although, something doesn't add up: middle/big ring rub on small cogs means FD is not outboard enough; but not dropping to small ring means not inboard enough. (Anybody want to guess the problem before reading on?)

Don't even look at FD all day, even though the bike lives in my cube with me. Riding home, I notice rub is even worse; and it totally doesn't want to drop to small chainring. I help it there manually, ride a while in the small ring, crest the hill, rest of the way home is downhill. I coast down to the stoplight, when it turns green, I pedal through the intersection, approaching a nice descent now, I push up to the middle ring and KAPOW (last chance to guess before I give the answer)

As I was saying, KAPOW I see a tiny flash of light rocket forwards out of the corner of my eye, I think my FD has exploded! I pull over and I see it is just hanging there by its cable; the bolt that used to be holding it onto the clamp is back there in the gutter (fortunately easy to find!); the outermost couple of threads in the FD are never to be seen again.

Obviously (now) in all my loosenings, adjustings, tightenings, testings, I had forgotten the last tightening of that braze-on bolt, and it worked its way loose over a few miles, the FD was hanging crooked (would have been obvious to fix even by hand if I had bothered to look), causing the peculiar shifting behavior, until finally the last few threads were barely holding on, and I went and tried to shift, and KAPOW...

So there I was sitting on the side of the road, with no tools. If I had at least my bike multitool I would have been able to remove the FD from its cable, open the chain with masterlink, take the FD off entirely, and easily make it home with 1x8 (actually 3x8, since it takes only a few seconds to stop, manually move the chain to the desired ring, and proceed).

Strangely I did have the foresight to pack my rarely-turned-on cellphone in my backpack (yes, I had a whole backpack with just a shirt, socks, underwear, lunch, and a cellphone in it -- I could have brought virtually all my tools if I weren't so stupid!), and I had to suck it up and call home for a ride. Or walk about 4mi. With SPD shoes and a bike with 0 flat tires.

So let this be a lesson to you (and to me!!): don't be stupid!
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Old 04-30-13, 07:03 PM   #2
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No, because I keep my bike Maintenance Up. Pre ride checks are always a Good idea.
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Old 04-30-13, 08:33 PM   #3
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No, because I keep my bike Maintenance Up. Pre ride checks are always a Good idea.
No, the problem here was maintenance was TOO up-to-date. This whole bike was just built frame-up from freshly-cleaned components. And pre-ride check wouldn't have helped either, it shifted fine when I did circles in the cul-de-sac, the problem didn't manifest for a few miles. Do you hand-tighten every bolt every time you ride a bike?

The lesson here is, when you take a first ride on a bike after working on something, you should be MORE likely to bring tools related to that something, not LESS. And in this case since I had touched EVERYTHING, it was really stupid to ride totally empty-handed.
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Old 04-30-13, 09:43 PM   #4
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Took a closer look tonight, turns out the screw hole that the braze-on bolt screwed into was helicoiled. Was that way unknown to me when I bought the bike used off CL. (Not that that's bad)

Is it possible this is not my fault? Does helicoil fail catastrophically like that sometimes? Or only when the bolt is left loose?
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Old 04-30-13, 09:56 PM   #5
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I'll admit it, it happen to me once. My Suntour Superbe Pro front derailleur's band rusted through and just fell off. Fortunately I was just starting my ride and was at the house, and fortunately I had a brand new one in storage. So I took my back up bike and rode it and when I got home worked on replacing the derailleur.
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Old 04-30-13, 10:01 PM   #6
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I had a rear snap off and go into the spokes causing a rather spectacular crash involving a front flip. I was fine the bike decidedly not.
I have forgotten to tighten the stem on my own bike a couple times too, that's exciting
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Old 05-01-13, 03:58 AM   #7
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Had the derailler hanger threads die and the RD drop off into the chain. Luckily I was going slow and it didn't involve spokes.
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Old 05-01-13, 08:58 AM   #8
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When assembling my current bike I forgot to do a full tighten on my stem faceplate. I was a little surprised when my bars started moving in the middle of a ride - luckily I had my saddle bag.
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Old 05-01-13, 09:55 AM   #9
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Well on the way to work, I notice my FD is acting funny...it's rubbing a lot in the small cogs...hey that's weird, now it doesn't even want to drop to the small chainring. I shrug it off, figure I'll readjust when I get home. ...
Don't even look at FD all day, even though the bike lives in my cube with me. Riding home, I notice rub is even worse; and it totally doesn't want to drop to small chainring.
So there I was sitting on the side of the road, with no tools.
It does not matter whether one does a pre-ride check, the components are old or new, the bike is well-maintained, or even whether you are an expert mechanic or a novice. If something starts working or sounding badly, and especially if it gets worse quickly, you need to attend to it immediately. You easily could have had a problem that was far more damaging to you or the bike. Further, for anyone to commute what is apparently a bit of a distance without tools - again, new bike or old - is just asking for trouble.

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Old 05-01-13, 09:59 AM   #10
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I had a rear snap off and go into the spokes causing a rather spectacular crash involving a front flip. I was fine the bike decidedly not.
I have forgotten to tighten the stem on my own bike a couple times too, that's exciting
Not to be picky, but you very likely have it reversed - the rear went into the spokes and snapped off. That is why I always shift to the large rear cog at the beginning of every ride.
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Old 05-01-13, 10:08 AM   #11
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It does not matter whether one does a pre-ride check, the components are old or new, the bike is well-maintained, or even whether you are an expert mechanic or a novice. If something starts working or sounding badly, and especially if it gets worse quickly, you need to attend to it immediately. You easily could have had a problem that was far more damaging to you or the bike. Further, for anyone to commute what is apparently a bit of a distance without tools - again, new bike or old - is just asking for trouble.
I humbly agree to all; I asked for trouble, and I got it!
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Old 05-01-13, 10:10 AM   #12
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Not to be picky, but you very likely have it reversed - the rear went into the spokes and snapped off. That is why I always shift to the large rear cog at the beginning of every ride.
Now that's a pre-ride (I guess actually in-ride) check that sounds easy enough to actually always do!
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Old 05-01-13, 10:27 AM   #13
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Not to be picky, but you very likely have it reversed - the rear went into the spokes and snapped off. That is why I always shift to the large rear cog at the beginning of every ride.
I was coasting down a steep hill in top gear actually.
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Old 05-01-13, 11:02 AM   #14
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I would advise stopping if you start hearing noises from the front wheel.....
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Old 05-01-13, 03:49 PM   #15
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Helicoiled threads are usually stronger than threads in the native material. It's not uncommon for items to be designed to use helicoil inserts from the start. Don't know if this is the case for your FD though.
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Old 05-01-13, 04:03 PM   #16
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Helicoiled threads are usually stronger than threads in the native material. It's not uncommon for items to be designed to use helicoil inserts from the start. Don't know if this is the case for your FD though.
Interesting. I don't know what an originally-designed helicoil hole would look like, this one after I pulled the damaged helicoil out looked like there had been threads there before, and they were either totally stripped, or somebody drilled a hair smaller than the hole diameter to leave just bumps instead of sharp threads.

The FD was on a lower-end Shimano-equipped 2006 Trek 1000. Bikepedia says 2203, but as I bought the bike used, I don't know if it was original equipment.
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Old 05-01-13, 04:42 PM   #17
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No, because I keep my bike Maintenance Up. Pre ride checks are always a Good idea.
+1. I can't say I've ever had an FD fall off. I've had one person complain about an FD on his son's premium REI bike that I worked on some months prior at a free clinic slipping down and rubbing the crank on each stroke, forcing him to stop, try to adjust but failed, and then he got lost because he didn't print out the route directions (which forced me, the ride host to go back 3 miles to find this guy and his son). Later he apologized because his wife sent the bike back to REI to have them "tune up" the bike.

And I do carry a lot of tools whenever I ride. Even on newly built bikes that don't need them.
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Old 05-01-13, 06:28 PM   #18
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I always carry the necessary tool after making a repair or installation, but now that I say it I completely rebuilt the BB on my commuter and I don't carry those tools around. Those are just too big.
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Old 05-01-13, 07:39 PM   #19
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I "nut and bolt" my bike once a week when I wash it. I just run through and make sure everything is tight, it adds almost no time, and lots of peace of mind, while out riding.
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Old 05-02-13, 09:52 AM   #20
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And I do carry a lot of tools whenever I ride. Even on newly built bikes that don't need them.
Well that's my point; my problem was thinking "newly built-->don't need tools", where the correct thought should have been "newly built = haven't had time to discover potential mistakes yet --> DO need tools"
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Old 05-02-13, 03:32 PM   #21
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And I do carry a lot of tools whenever I ride. Even on newly built bikes that don't need them.
Nothing wrong with that, it's best to be prepared for the worst and have nothing happen to not be prepared and have the worse happen. I got into a habit of carrying a lot of stuff too because I use to, and still do, like to ride into remote areas and if I have failure I need to at least limp home and not walk home! I'm the kind of guy to that does not rely on my wife to act as stand in mommy when things go wrong, I will do whatever it takes to get the situation handled, in fact I'm so much that way I don't even carry a cell phone when I ride which forces me not to rely on someone else!
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Old 05-02-13, 03:54 PM   #22
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i had a similar problem with the brake calipers on my mtb yesterday but realized what was happening before anything exploded
i had been adjusting my calipers to get rid of a bit of rubbing on the front and forgot to tighten it back down when i went in for the night
then went for a ride with one of my sons yesterday and kept hearing this weird clunking noise fromt he front of the bike when i braked
my headset is kinda kludged together due to a too short steerer tube so i figgered i would have to adjust it when i got home

then i looked down and saw the caliper riding back and forth 1/8" on the loose bolt when i rocked the bike with the brake clamped
so i tightened the bolts down finger tight to get proper attention when i got home

sadly i forgot about it again and rode to work this morning with the caliper only finger tight
so i borrowed an allen key from the shop and went out to adjust it at lunch

anyhow

if you are not perfect like fietsbob and sometimes overlook things like that
when something starts acting funny while riding it is usually a good idea to stop for ten seconds
and check it out

a stitch in time saves twelve
(adjusted for inflation)
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Old 05-02-13, 05:49 PM   #23
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Quote:
then i looked down and saw
that's one of the many important steps I skipped! Good thing for you it was front brake, hard to miss.

Quote:
if you are not perfect like fietsbob
fietsbob's not perfect -- his grammar is atrocious!

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Old 05-02-13, 05:55 PM   #24
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Got a replacement FD off CL today, Tiagra road triple braze-on, FD-4503. And it has a nice solid curved washer to replace the flat one I lost on the side of the road.

Took a look and this one is helicoiled for the clamp bolt as well. As far as I can tell, from all the samples I have taken, 100% of all FD are helicoiled!
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Old 05-02-13, 09:29 PM   #25
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you summed up your entire post very well in the last sentence.
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