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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 08-02-07, 11:33 AM   #1
BeckyW
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My bike is sick :(

I had to leave it at my LBS today for repairs. I'm really surprised/shocked at my reaction to this.. it's like the empty place in my garage is a hole in my heart.... *dramatic sniffling* They said they'd try to have it ready for me by Monday, but I wouldn't be surprised if they have to order some parts and it takes longer than that.

During my ride yesterday, the Pedals started making knocking, then grinding sounds and the handlebars started creaking loudly, and half the time when I shift down into the "granny gear," even if I do it correctly and carefully, my chain pops off... I have a possibly irrational fear that my bike just won't stand up to me riding it, and that it's going to be one thing after another, every hundred miles or so.

I'm a little concerned that my LBS won't suggest good solutions for someone of my size, if parts need replacing. My wheels have been OK since they straightened them, even after hitting some pretty good bumps at pretty high speeds. But is it possible that standard handlebars and pedals just aren't strong enough? Or are these problems normal as a bike gets broken in, and things just need to be tightened up?

Suggestions are welcome, and I'll let you know what happens when the LBS calls to let me know what they think needs to be done.
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Old 08-02-07, 11:39 AM   #2
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Time to learn how to work on your bike yourself? The chain popping off is a simple 30 second adjustment (nothings broken). As for the creaking, likely something is loose and needed to be tightened. I don't know what would cause a creaking handle bar (other than they are loose.. but that would only be over bumps).
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Old 08-02-07, 11:45 AM   #3
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Time to learn how to work on your bike yourself? The chain popping off is a simple 30 second adjustment (nothings broken). As for the creaking, likely something is loose and needed to be tightened. I don't know what would cause a creaking handle bar (other than they are loose.. but that would only be over bumps).
I've been thinking along those same lines - that it is time to learn to fix my own bike. So I'll add another question... is a comfort bike more like a road bike or a mountain bike? I've heard the "Zinn" repair books are good, but don't know which one to get.
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Old 08-02-07, 11:48 AM   #4
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Yesterday on my ride home (which was about 11 miles) I heard creaking as well. So for the last half of the ride all I could think was how the bike might not be standing up to my weight very well. When I got home though, I realized that the seat bracket was a little off, so now it's fixed. I understand your thoughts though.
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Old 08-02-07, 11:49 AM   #5
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Actually, a bike is a bike! Mountain, road, hybrid, they're all basically the same in basic design. Parts are similar enough that there is a lot of crossover. Given you ride a more or less Hybrid, that's the route I'd go and when you get to riding a road bike, you'll have enough basic knowledge to understand the differences and figure out how to address them (There isn't that much, going either way, though from Hybrid to road or hybrid to Mountain, maintenance wise).
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Old 08-02-07, 11:51 AM   #6
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Can't say I have any relevant information to share with you, but I can say that I feel for you as my bike is also currently in for surgery at the LBS...also expecting to be done by Monday. I'm really bummed cause I wanted to ride this weekend, but oh well. It would seem to me as though your rear derailleur is out of alignment if its overthrowing granny. Its adjusted by the two little screws in the back of the derailleur. I don’t want to go giving advice on wrenching though, to new to it myself (at least regarding bicycles).

Guess I'll have to console myself with my other toys and a session of Budweiser therapy. Maybe if I get really ambitious I'll rebuild the carbs in the Honda. Your welcome to join me in therapy you wish.
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Old 08-02-07, 12:00 PM   #7
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I think bikes are a lot tougher than people think. I started at 350lbs and never had any problems with my navigator and now at 310 I even use if for light off road use and it doesn't break. So far I only have 150 miles on the road bike, but it to hold up fine. I'm even beating on it pretty hard learing to climb while standing. I also stand and pound it hard on all my take off, which is usually 10-12 a ride.

More than likey your bike is just out of adjustment.
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Old 08-02-07, 12:09 PM   #8
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I had to leave it at my LBS today for repairs. I'm really surprised/shocked at my reaction to this.. it's like the empty place in my garage is a hole in my heart.... *dramatic sniffling* They said they'd try to have it ready for me by Monday, but I wouldn't be surprised if they have to order some parts and it takes longer than that.
I had a GF Sugar (loved the bike) but the rear triangle had problems and I cracked it (nothing to do with weight, it was a very common problem), bike was out of commission for nearly 3 weeks, it was during that time that I decided that I needed a backup, so I got my second bike (built it actually) a hybrid commuter. Now that my road bike has been in the shop for 2 weeks (defective crank getting replaced under warranty) I'm still glad I have my hybrid.

Sadly as it stands right now I have 3 bikes plus a loaner that I let the kids ride around the neighborhood, plus all of their bikes, the garage looks like a LBS I think all told we have 12 bikes, ranging from a beach cruiser to some really high end mountain bikes, and there are only 4 of us that ride, and it looks like my daughter is going to end up with a tandem beach cruiser ( I have no idea were that one is going to go) for some extra work that she is doing for the shop she works at.
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Old 08-02-07, 01:00 PM   #9
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Wow sorry to hear about your bike, I just went through the same thing this last week, it sucks! Last week I was on my ride and about 10 miles away from home the cable the holds the gears snapped. I noticed a few days before they were getting noisier. I took the bike in and they fixed it and went and adjusted everything else and said it's normal wear and tear, it's only a 5 month old bike.
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Old 08-02-07, 01:06 PM   #10
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Bikes are like cars, if you have the right tools everything can go pretty smooth. Bikes are not like cars in that they are pretty simple to work on and with the right information comes a certain amount of pride.

There are some excellent online sources of repair information and education too above the old this is how to change a tire stuff.

parktools.com has a great online help and as always, capt bike sheldonbrown.com has some of the best stuff.

Jump in, get dirty and have fun!
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Old 08-02-07, 01:12 PM   #11
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start at your local library. They usually have a few maintenance manuals in stock. go for the newest one you can find. There are some specialized tools you may need(which you can get cheaply at nashbar), but I've found nothing too difficult(maintenance-wise). My philosophy is , if its already broken, you cant do too much more damage, and if you get nervous, you can always take it to the LBS.
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Old 08-02-07, 01:22 PM   #12
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Here are some resource sites for you that are FREE!
http://www.bitrot.de/bbook_intro.html
http://www.parktool.com/repair/

Good info on both sites!
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Old 08-02-07, 01:22 PM   #13
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It's rough when your bike is sick....I had that problem until I got my second bike.

I doubt its a weight issue. Comfort bikes (like my 1st bike) are kinda low-end in the bike spectrum so there tends to be lower-end components on them. Could just be lower end components. I don't know, for sure, that's the issue, but if it is, it might be worth replacing thing, when they break, with higher-end stuff.
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Old 08-02-07, 01:22 PM   #14
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Here are some resource sites for you that are FREE!
http://www.bitrot.de/bbook_intro.html
http://www.parktool.com/repair/

Good info on both sites!
Don't forget http://sheldonbrown.com/home.html
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Old 08-02-07, 02:02 PM   #15
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I'm really gentle on bikes-- I spin up hills, I shift carefully, etc.

Even so, my Atlantis (about as rugged a bike as you could want) already has to go in for repair.

I felt a tiny little knock in one of the pedals. Barely noticeable, but it was irritating. I thought it was a loose pedal, and I started reading up on how to fix it. My LBS guy is helping me learn to wrench (he called me "grasshopper" the last time I saw him) so I sent him a list with 5 questions to make sure I understood what I learned...

Yup, 5 questions about tightening a pedal.

He wrote back and said it sounded like the Bottom Bracket was loose, and I should bring it in. (But he also answered my questions, and I was surprised by the answers)

I looked up BB in all the sources you guys mentioned, and sure enough, that's probably going to be it. I went to my maintenance class last night and we learned "tightening bottom bracket" My Atlantis was up north, so I couldn't bring it. Anyway, after he got done showing us the tools and demonstrating, I said, "OK, so this procedure takes about 6 expensive tools and it's really easy to totally destroy your crankset ($$$)...right?" He laughed, and said, "Yes."

Wrote back to my LBS guy and asked if I could still ride the bike, since the knock was so slight. (if not, I'll have to bring the city bike up north)

He said, "It should be OK, but I'd take it easy, no hills and try not to put pressure on the pedal"

Now, I can't emphasize enough how small this problem is and how heavy and sturdy my bike is! And it would be a risk to ride it. Wow.

Now, I have a really low end cruiser I got when I first started biking with my dog (a Raleigh Retroglide). I took it out to sell it the other day, and the brakes were frozen, the gears won't shift, etc. This bike has less than 100 miles on it, probably.

Now, My Bridgestone 200 I put almost 5000 miles on and only brought it to the LBS in the spring and never even had a flat with it.

I don't know what the moral of my story is, except

A. The Retroglide was cheap enough to break itself just sitting in the garage for 3 years, although I suppose B (below) could apply to it, too. But I also think that cheaper bikes get put together with less skill, sometimes, so that's another reason to learn the basic stuff about a bike...

B. The Atlantis is a new bike and I've had a series of derailleur and other things that needed adjustment before I did damage to it. I think it's just a new bike breaking in. She's been at the shop 3 times now in about 6 weeks. Things were stretching and settling and things that were loose were showing it.

C. Once you get a bike going and do regular lubing, it can* be rock solid, I suppose.
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Old 08-02-07, 02:08 PM   #16
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Your bike is tougher than you think & will be fine. You will be riding again in no time!

Is there a bike co-op near you? I know where I live there is a shop with all the tools & people to help you out. Maybe you could find a class at a bike shop/outdoor center. Or better yet, find a friend who knows stuff (and has tools) and learn from them.

Bikes really aren't that complicated, and it is nice to be able to fix most things yourself.
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Old 08-02-07, 02:19 PM   #17
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The fact you have BOTH "knocking in the pedals" AND shifting problems, leads me to believe the bottom bracket (where the crank bearings are) is "messed up".
If it's any consolation, that SHOULDN'T happen on a relatively new bike. Hopefully, they'll fix everything under warranty??
Any time you hear strange noises like that, head for home and "baby" it. You might be able to repair things with a simple adjustment, rather than damaging components by continued use.
It is strange that the handlebars started making noise at the same time??? Maybe the noise just "transmitted" through the frame and sounded like that??
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Old 08-02-07, 02:24 PM   #18
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Thanks for all the great resources and reassurance. It's good to know that, more than likely, once all the kinks are worked out (and necessary components upgraded), my bike will be ok! I do think I'm going to keep my eyes open for a "spare bike" from Craigslist or something, though.

I've been browsing Sheldon Brown's site for the past few weeks - there's a LOT of good information there! Some of it is a bit over my head, or needs supplementing with "Idiot's Guide" type stuff - thanks for the other links. And I know I should use the public library... but I always end up with overdue fines, and have finally decided I'm better off just buying my own books...

I don't know of any workshops or clinics around here, but it wouldn't surprise me if they exist. I'll ask around.

Solveg, from what I read on Sheldon's site, it wouldn't surprise me if my bottom bracket is loose. I hope I haven't damaged it.

So anyway, I'll use the weekend to take care of some other things, take the dog for a couple of nice long walks (she's been awfully neglected since I got the bike!), and do some strength/core training that I've been a little sloppy about. Then hopefully jump back into bike training next week feeling strong and rested, and with a healthy bike!
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Old 08-02-07, 02:28 PM   #19
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The fact you have BOTH "knocking in the pedals" AND shifting problems, leads me to believe the bottom bracket (where the crank bearings are) is "messed up".
If it's any consolation, that SHOULDN'T happen on a relatively new bike. Hopefully, they'll fix everything under warranty??
Any time you hear strange noises like that, head for home and "baby" it. You might be able to repair things with a simple adjustment, rather than damaging components by continued use.
It is strange that the handlebars started making noise at the same time??? Maybe the noise just "transmitted" through the frame and sounded like that??
The handlebars have been a bit creaky ever since I got the bike - I thought it was normal, but it suddenly got a lot louder on my last ride. I push on them pretty hard - do a bit of the side-to-side thing going up hills, even though I'm not lifted all the way out of my seat.

As for whether it's covered under the warranty - it had better be! The bike's only 2 months old, and only has about 100 miles on it. We'll see what they say... maybe they'll give me a deal on upgrades.
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Old 08-02-07, 02:31 PM   #20
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I don't have shifting problems now... that was just from the chain stretching, which I guess it will do in the beginning....
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Old 08-02-07, 03:04 PM   #21
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I had problems from day two with the factory stem on my Navigator. Creaked and popped all the time. LBS replaced it under warranty with an aftermarket ZOOM stem. Problem solved. Stems and bars should not creak and pop when they are tight.

+1 on suspecting BB problems.

Shifting problems and losing the chain can also indicate a chain that is too long. Ask them to make sure it is the correct length as long as they have it in.
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Old 08-02-07, 04:34 PM   #22
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My bike had some growing pains, and needed a new crank set and bottom bracket, thank goodness for warranties!
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Old 08-02-07, 05:40 PM   #23
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Wow, Becky. I was just digging around in AR Craig's List, and it's really slim pickings down there. There are very few bikes, and the ones they have are expensive.

How tall are you? You might have to come up to ride Mille Lacs just to go home with a bike! How far are you willing to drive for a second bike? You might want to make friends with the bike store and have them keep an eye open for you, unless they're a big used bike dealer. Check the bulletin board at your loca sports shop (Do you have REI there?) or even the paper. Garage sales. Clearly people aren't using Craig's List down there.
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Old 08-02-07, 05:56 PM   #24
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Sounds like bad bottom brackets are common enough, then... I still haven't heard anything from LBS :/

solveg - I'm 5'11", and thinking a mens' bike may be the way to go, for a used bike. I'm not likely to find a women's one that fits me that's not custom made (the one I have is a little small, I think). It actually has crossed my mind to check out Minneapolis/St Paul Craigslist a week or so before Mille Lacs.. lol. Not sure how I'd get a 2nd bike home, though. Fayetteville Craigslist is just starting to take off - CL didn't even list this town until about a year ago, for some reason. It's not nearly as big a metro area as the twin cities - only about 400,000 people total here. We don't have REI... I hadn't thought of checking the paper... and I don't want one bad enough yet to go garage-sale hunting!
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Old 08-02-07, 06:13 PM   #25
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2 weeks before you get here is useless. The good ones are gone same day. But if you get up here, look while you're here. I can bring it down in my trailer when I go to Kansas, and we can work it out from there.

There's a lovely free Raleigh right now, looks like your size, not sure which make, but it's cross town and I'm not driving anywhere in this post-bridge collapse traffic.

http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/bik/387997436.html
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