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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 07-26-07, 05:48 AM   #1
solveg
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Fixing your bike

I took my first bicyle maintainence class last night and discovered our local bike co-op (The Hub). In my mind, I had imagined some hole in the wall with old yellow bikes parked outside.

(Some background: at one point, the Twin Cities had a Yellow Bike program, where they painted a bunch of bikes yellow, and people were free to use them if they came across one. Nice concept, but it must not have worked.)

Anyway, The place was so* great, and had such a terrific feeling to it. It felt like home when you walk in, and it was the opposite of the typical bike shop, which they refer to as "sports shops".

They have a bay you can rent for $5/hour that has all the tools, books and personal assistance you need. This is a really cool resource.

Anyway, back to the class. This was only the first night, so we learned how to change a flat, adjusted the derailleur, and took the freewheel cassette apart. It dawned on me how many things I bring my bike in for that I can fix with a hex wrench! It really helps to have someone there the first time you do stuff, because there's little efficiency tricks that are good to learn right from the start, and you can get bailed out if you screw up.

I almost destroyed my back wheel, and would have if he hadn't stopped me. The bike I was working on was an old '81 SR, and it had a very early cassette that is somehow incorporated into the wheel. When the cassette needs replacing, I'll have to replace the entire wheel! Anyway, I was putting on the "locking gear" or whatever that is called, and I screwed it on backwards because I matched the grime level of the rest of the gears (one side was clean so I assumed that side was protected). Luckily he he stopped me, and he was either teasing me or it was really* hard to get off.

It was a fun* night, I made new friends, it was cheap, and I feel really* really confident now about the things I've learned.

I know a lot of you are mechanically inclined on this forum, but if you're not, take one of these classes! There was only 3 of us in the class. One was a guy with a nice road bike, one was a woman with a comfort Schwinn, and there was me with an 81 SR. Our cassettes and deraileurs needed totally different techniques, so it was like getting 3 for 1 in the knowledge department.

Another benefit to taking a class is when something goes awry, they have replacements there. My SR is old, so I needed a rubber strip in my tire and he just handed me one. One of my springs was rusty and broke, and there was another. My tires were dried out, so I decided to replace them and it was just a trip into the next room.

Plus, if you're into old bikes like I am, finding a coop is great because they have a "graveyard" there full of cheap old parts.

Sorry for my long, enthusiastic post, but this is going to make a huge difference in my life and save me tons* of money.
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Old 07-26-07, 06:04 AM   #2
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Cool! Were the parts all grimy and greasy, or did they have everything clean for the demonstration?
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Old 07-26-07, 06:13 AM   #3
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There was no demo bike... each of our bikes were done by us. Sometimes the instructor would do it first, but then he'd put it back the way it was so the person could do it themselves.

So we all got dirty hands, except mine was really* filthy. We didn't do any cleaning there... in fact, it was a running joke that I always asked what products to use to clean the various things. A clean bike is a happy* bike.
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Old 07-26-07, 06:31 AM   #4
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Our Shop does some clinics also. Since I am the "NEW" Guy at 51 years young, I sometimes teach the Flat tire Clinic. I have a great deal of fun with that. I really think shops need to do more of this. The boss was laughing at me the other day because I was showing someone EXACTLY what I was doing with their bike. "No Trade Secrets with Him!" LOL! Of course I work in a fish bowl of a work area so folks are free to look around.

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Old 07-26-07, 06:47 AM   #5
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I wish the shops here in Rochester would do work shops. Well maybe they do and I don't know it. If I had time I'd drive up the HUB, because I'd love to attend a work shop, instead of learnng on my own.
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Old 07-26-07, 09:24 AM   #6
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Wow, what a great resource! I know at three of the local shops around here the wrench's are always happy to answer questions, or have you watch as they work on your ride. That's how I learned how to true a wheel, well, that and Sheldon Brown .
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Old 07-26-07, 09:43 AM   #7
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That's awesome!! I gots to find me something like that.

They had a few mini bike maintenance courses at an LBS back in Clearwater (FL), but it was always just basic "how to change a flat" stuff.

Recently, I've been really jonesin' to start learning how to do my own bike work and am trying to find something exactly like this. I love that you can rent the bay so cheaply and have knowledgeable help there as well. That r0x0r5!!!
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Old 07-26-07, 09:47 AM   #8
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We have a bike co-op in Bloomington too. Taking a class there is on my long to-do list. I'm glad you had such a good experience.
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Old 07-26-07, 09:58 AM   #9
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It is very interesting to see how many things that you can fix with just a little knowledge and a couple of hex drivers. I did however go one step further, I encouraged my daughter to get into biking, which she did, then she ended up getting a job at a LBS and now has been there for over a year, so now I don't have to worry about her bike, and most of the time I can get her to fix my bike .
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Old 07-26-07, 10:28 AM   #10
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Where the heck is The Hub? I might have to stop in and shop some old parts the next time I'm in Minneapolis.
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Old 07-26-07, 10:34 AM   #11
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I Might talk with the owner about the Bay Rental. That could work with the right fellow assisting. It is always a tough road in the Winter around here and something like that might work here too. Of course we have a LARGE percentage of Customers that want their fixed by someone other than themselves.

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Old 07-26-07, 10:48 AM   #12
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That's awesome!! I gots to find me something like that.

They had a few mini bike maintenance courses at an LBS back in Clearwater (FL), but it was always just basic "how to change a flat" stuff.

Recently, I've been really jonesin' to start learning how to do my own bike work and am trying to find something exactly like this. I love that you can rent the bay so cheaply and have knowledgeable help there as well. That r0x0r5!!!
When all my parts come in, (hopefully today,) come to my place for some intro maintenance lessons.
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Old 07-26-07, 10:57 AM   #13
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We have a bike coop in town here, it works on a yearly sliding scale membership fee ($0-$30). They don't do any actual work, but its manned 4 days a week and they offer tools and assistance (as well as a small selection of used bikes, and an assortment of parts). I work there one day a week and its been a great learning experience for me as well. Hanging around these places and asking lots of questions is a great way to learn, and share what you learn with others.
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Old 07-26-07, 11:14 AM   #14
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Where the heck is The Hub? I might have to stop in and shop some old parts the next time I'm in Minneapolis.

http://thehubbikecoop.org/index.cfm
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Old 07-26-07, 11:36 AM   #15
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I've needed a repair stand (own lots of tools) the last 6 years but I always keep moving around.
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Old 07-26-07, 02:10 PM   #16
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A lot of bike repairs & tunes are quite simple, but it sure is nice to have someone knowledgeable looking over your shoulder!
Back in the 70's I rode a MC and took a class on MC maintenance at the local CC. Well worth every cent!
Glad you enjoyed it!
Sheldon Brown and the Park Tools website are a great source of info. One can look over a repair and decide if they have the expertise & tools to do the job.
I'm slowly building up my bike tools. Spoke wrench, chain breaker, cassette lock ring remover. None of those were over $8 at the LBS. I'm going to try to make my own "chain whip" out of a vise grips and piece of old chain. (It MIGHT work?)
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Old 07-26-07, 02:48 PM   #17
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Just got back from my LBS, which is a very small shop I like to support, and picked up some supplies. I also needed help making a master plan for the bike. The co-op was great for specifics, but I needed someone to tell my plans to who could give me the most efficient order in which to do them, and to tell me what problems I may encounter. I also wanted an honest assessment of my bike, because it's a real unknown brand and difficult to find info on. It took me a couple months to find a bike I really liked, that was good enough to sink time and money into but not so valuable I would worry about messing up.

The more my LBS guy looked at the bike, the more he loved it. I suspected it was a touring bike, but it handles like a road bike and lacks braze-ons. But he verified that it was definately a touring bike, and the weird cassette has low touring gears, even though it's only a 12 speed. It has a complete Shimano 600 EX Arabesque grupo with an extremely long deraileur that he had never seen before. It's quite well made, apparently, with lugged chromoly.

He even gave me, free, a replacement cassette so that when mine eventually goes I won't have to replace the wheel. He said to watch ebay and grab them whenever I found them, because they only made them a few years.

I said I was relieved he liked it, because as far as I could find out it might have been a cheap Taiwanese bike. I just bought it because it felt like quality to me and the ride was great. He said (and this made me feel really good), "No! I know all your bikes, and you have really good taste!"

So I'm really excited to overhaul this bike and see what it has. I'm also really pleased it's a touring bike. Touring bikes really suit my riding style well, and now I know I can throw panniers on it.

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Old 07-26-07, 02:58 PM   #18
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Where the heck is The Hub? I might have to stop in and shop some old parts the next time I'm in Minneapolis.
They have 2 shops. I think all the bikes are sold at the 32nd and Minnehaha location. They have a great vintage swap in the spring. It has a nice uptown feel (not NY uptown, but Mpls uptown). I havent' been to the other location.
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Old 07-26-07, 03:10 PM   #19
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Kind of sounds like the Uniglide cassette?
http://sheldonbrown.com/k7.html#uniglide
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Old 07-26-07, 03:34 PM   #20
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double post - sorry
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Old 07-26-07, 03:35 PM   #21
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Caicando - might want to check out some of the shops here in Syracuse - I think they do workshops and it might be worth the drive over here to attend one.
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Old 07-26-07, 03:46 PM   #22
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Kind of sounds like the Uniglide cassette?
http://sheldonbrown.com/k7.html#uniglide
Cool! That's exactly what it is! Thanks!

My biggest problem right now is that I lack words for things. It makes it really hard to communicate.
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Old 07-26-07, 03:59 PM   #23
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When all my parts come in, (hopefully today,) come to my place for some intro maintenance lessons.
LOL...I was going to call you tonight about that.
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Old 07-27-07, 07:23 PM   #24
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Cool! That's exactly what it is! Thanks!

My biggest problem right now is that I lack words for things. It makes it really hard to communicate.

http://sheldonbrown.com/glossary.html
Often you can guess and you'll find a link to a link to...
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Old 07-27-07, 07:55 PM   #25
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http://sheldonbrown.com/glossary.html
Often you can guess and you'll find a link to a link to...
Sheldon is my hero
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