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Old 06-09-11, 11:22 AM   #1
Seattle Forrest
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My bike tried to kill me this morning. RIP bike.

I was coming down a slight ( 3 to 4 % ) hill, pedaling to catch a light that was about to turn green up ahead, when my rear wheel locked up on me. If you've ever locked the rear brake before in a panic stop, you'll recognize when it happens; the back end of the bike moves sideways in an arc. It's very particular. Anyway, this happened out of the blue, coming down the hill at 23 mph.

At this point I was sure I was going to lose some teeth. No question. The only things going through my mind were "this is going to hurt" and "I wonder how it's about to happen?"

The bike started to gradually fall to the right. I leaned to the left, like I would in a sharp turn. It came back up, but then started to dump left, and I leaned right. Then I saw that I was heading for a curb, and a telephone pole behind it. This was my answer, to how it would go down. But I skidded to a stop just before I hit the curb. I don't know whether I used the front brake or not; I didn't try to steer, though, because I had no control over the bike.

I thought I was going down, and going to hit my head, or that the bike would stop before I did, and I'd fall "through" it, injuring a leg in the frame and bars. But I walked away without a scratch.

I had been cross-chaining, big to big, and the bike shifted itself to a gear I didn't have. The chain wrapped around the hub and caught itself in a spoke, locking the wheel up. I tried to pull it out, but not dice. I locked it to a sign post, took a taxi home and got my car, and drove in. I stopped and picked up my bike, which is on the roof in the parking lot downstairs.

I think I'm going to stop at LBS on the way home and see what they'll give me in trade-in value. I just replaced the whole drive train a couple weeks ago, in what could have been a bad wreck, and it feels like it's time to part ways with this bike. I don't want to stop commuting ... but I don't want to keep riding this one, either.
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Old 06-09-11, 11:28 AM   #2
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Sounds like a limit screw was a little off... rear wheel lock ups are not fun.

Had one a few weeks ago that was not chain related... the cone lock washer on my 3 speed sheared off on the non drive side and this frees up the bearing which then tightens itself and stopped the wheel. This happened at low speed and there was no lasting damage.

This was not anything I could fix on the road and had to walk a few miles back to the shop to install a new lock washer.
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Old 06-09-11, 11:31 AM   #3
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Glad you're ok man! I had some miracle like that a few weeks ago...I was riding on a gravel toe path and hit a steel something that I didn't see protruding out of the ground. It dented my rim and nearly had me over the bars. Somehow I caught the frame with my legs and the bike tracked straight. I managed to get back on and didn't go down. I was SURE it was going to hurt.

God looks out for children, drunks and fools.

and apparently me.
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Old 06-09-11, 11:37 AM   #4
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I had a similar big-big problem on one of my bikes this winter. I was going much slower and got away with the chain sawing off a spoke and cutting deeply into half the others, but I was able to ride it to work and back home like that. In my case, the problem was caused by the chain not being quite long enough for the big-big combination and it happened as soon as I shifted.

Glad to hear you survived. You could get away with a new chain and a wheel rebuild, but once a bike has turned against you it's hard to trust it again.
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Old 06-09-11, 11:53 AM   #5
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God looks out for children, drunks and fools.
so then, as a childish, drunken fool, i guess i'm sitting pretty; i'm shielded under the aegis of god's triple-point protection plan!

so i've got that going for me............ which is nice.



seriously though, i'm glad that the OP is a-ok. after having recently walked away from a collision with a bus, i can honestly say that any accident you walk away from is a good one. i've had my chain come off the big cog in back and lock up the rear wheel once before, but it was at the start of an incline and i was in the process of downshifting, so the bike just came to an immediate and abrupt stop while i wisely unlocked my foot from the pedal to set it upon the ground to stop from falling over with the bike. i imagine that's it's a far scarier experience on the downhill side at speed.

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Old 06-09-11, 11:58 AM   #6
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God looks out for children, drunks and fools.
I'm 33 years old, and I don't drink.

If I'd had time to think it through, I probably would have unclipped and tried to brace for the impact. But reflexes took over, and all I did was try to balance. Clipping out probably would have spelled disaster. I stay clipped in when I corner and when I track stand, so it was kind of like being on the bike as normal, only with no control over the thing.
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Old 06-09-11, 12:10 PM   #7
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I had a similar lock-up a few years back when a bungee on my rack gave out and the cording got tangled in my cassette. Downhill, 20-ish mph, and I managed to dig on my old BMX skills; went nads-to-stem and controlled the skid until I finally skidded to a stop, but yikes was it scary!
Glad you're OK.
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Old 06-09-11, 12:25 PM   #8
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Does this illustrate why we should never ever use the big-big combo? Coulda happened with small-big, too, I guess.
Glad the bike and OP stayed upright.
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Old 06-09-11, 12:30 PM   #9
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Remember when we were kids on bikes with coaster brakes, and how much fun it was to go as fast as you could and then slam on the brakes and skid to a halt, leaving a wavy black tire mark on the pavement?

'Course, we weren't going 23 mph downhill in the middle of traffic at the time. Boy that would scare the hell out of me. Glad you walked away unscathed, SF.
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Old 06-09-11, 12:33 PM   #10
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Where's the dork disc advocacy group on this?
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Old 06-09-11, 12:34 PM   #11
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What would have been the icing on the cake is if you forgot to unclip when you finally stopped, and fell over anyway.
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Old 06-09-11, 12:36 PM   #12
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I'm 33 years old, and I don't drink.

If I'd had time to think it through, I probably would have unclipped and tried to brace for the impact. But reflexes took over, and all I did was try to balance. Clipping out probably would have spelled disaster. I stay clipped in when I corner and when I track stand, so it was kind of like being on the bike as normal, only with no control over the thing.
Heh...I meant the insult as being self directed, not you! I'm glad you;re ok.
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Old 06-09-11, 12:38 PM   #13
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Wow! Nice reflexes - I'm sure that if it were I in your place, all of the bad possibilities you cited would have occurred, and worse!
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Old 06-09-11, 12:51 PM   #14
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Where's the dork disc advocacy group on this?
I'm here. Love em.
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Old 06-09-11, 12:52 PM   #15
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How were you in the big-big combo and doing 23 mph? You must have been spinning about 200 rpm.
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Old 06-09-11, 01:19 PM   #16
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Sounds like a limit screw was a little off... rear wheel lock ups are not fun.

Had one a few weeks ago that was not chain related... the cone lock washer on my 3 speed sheared off on the non drive side and this frees up the bearing which then tightens itself and stopped the wheel. This happened at low speed and there was no lasting damage.

This was not anything I could fix on the road and had to walk a few miles back to the shop to install a new lock washer.
Yeah, sounds to me like that to. If the rear derailler is installed and adjusted properly it should be physically impossible to shift into a gear you don't have.

A friend of mine had the chain jump off on the rear on his new bike to, the shop didn't adjust it right.

lol, not to belittle a scary experience, but you should see what happens if your front wheel locks up. The story is "I don't know what happened, but suddenly my bike stopped and I went flying over the handlebars." :-( The front wheel is the scary wheel...
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Old 06-09-11, 01:21 PM   #17
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I just replaced the whole drive train a couple weeks ago...
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Sounds like a limit screw was a little off...
Didja replace the cassette and/or rear derailleur? Didja set the low limit screw right when you did the work...?
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Old 06-09-11, 01:31 PM   #18
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The cassette was replaced, but the shop did it. You had warned me about how they fixed the front derailleur ( and thanks, by the way ). They adjusted the RD, too. I've always had trouble with it, and it's an old, nine-speed one. ( Shimano 105 ). My guess is that it's just dying. The people at the shop always do great work, as far as I can tell, and have a reputation for being great mechanics. Is it possible the RD came out of tune quickly? Or could I have bent the hanger and pushed it to the left?

Also, believe it or not, I have a dork disk on this bike. I would take and post a pic, but the camera is at home, and I want to do something about the bike before I get there. Last time, the chain came off and wrapped around the BB and pedal spindle, going down a hill at speed, and I didn't almost crash, but could have. The rear wheel gets a "death wobble" around 30 mph, which I've never been able to fix. I think I'll feel a lot more comfortable on a different bike, even if it isn't as good.
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Old 06-09-11, 01:33 PM   #19
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Yeah, you know, from that description if it was me I'd just buy a whole new bike to.
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Old 06-09-11, 02:54 PM   #20
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Must be the season for big-big failures. My drivetrain locked up on the way home 2 weeks ago. Downshifting into big-big approaching a stop light. Bang! Fortunately, little traffic, flat ground, already slowing, plenty of room to pull over. Dearailluer was hanging from the cable, hanger was cracked in two pieces, lower pulley and part of the cage was broken off and wedged in the rear spokes. 2 miles from home, had my cleat covers, so I walked. 20 minutes later, I was thinking I should have called my wife instead. Only 500 miles on the bike, too!

Replaced rear derailluer, derailluer hanger, had a shop replace the bents spoke and true wheel. I had noticed ghost shifting on the way home, and was going to check the indexing over the weekend. Don't know if the hanger was defective/failing, or if there was a problem with the derailluer. I saw the low limit screw was backed quite a ways out, don't recall if it was like that before, someone messed with it (but that should have affected my 1st shift into big-big, not 9-10 miles later), or it was working it's way out from vibration (has NEVER happened before in 7-8 years of commuting and riding). Chain was long enough to not lock up derailluer in big-big, too. Even with 2 more teeth on the big cog for the wheel I was using vs. the wheel the bike came with. Anyway, I'm trying to avoid big-big now.
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Old 06-09-11, 03:21 PM   #21
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I'm 33 years old, and I don't drink.

...
That only leaves one option

Seriously though, glad you're ok. I remember your recent post about your drive train replacement. Congrats on the new bike, whatever it may be!
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Old 06-09-11, 03:47 PM   #22
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The cassette was replaced, but the shop did it. You had warned me about how they fixed the front derailleur ( and thanks, by the way ). They adjusted the RD, too. I've always had trouble with it, and it's an old, nine-speed one. ( Shimano 105 ). My guess is that it's just dying. The people at the shop always do great work, as far as I can tell, and have a reputation for being great mechanics. Is it possible the RD came out of tune quickly? Or could I have bent the hanger and pushed it to the left?

Also, believe it or not, I have a dork disk on this bike. I would take and post a pic, but the camera is at home, and I want to do something about the bike before I get there. Last time, the chain came off and wrapped around the BB and pedal spindle, going down a hill at speed, and I didn't almost crash, but could have. The rear wheel gets a "death wobble" around 30 mph, which I've never been able to fix. I think I'll feel a lot more comfortable on a different bike, even if it isn't as good.
Ah. Bring it in where you got the work done, explain the situation, and let them know you're looking for a new bike. Don't even hint that you're blaming them for the situation, just explain like you did here--that you're just not going to have peace of mind on the bike. There's a chance they will fall all over themselves trying to make good by offering some kind of deal on a new bike...
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Old 06-09-11, 03:54 PM   #23
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Ah. Bring it in where you got the work done, explain the situation, and let them know you're looking for a new bike. Don't even hint that you're blaming them for the situation, just explain like you did here--that you're just not going to have peace of mind on the bike. There's a chance they will fall all over themselves trying to make good by offering some kind of deal on a new bike...
What? lol, are you kidding?

Unless it was the only bike shop in town, frankly, I would be highly tempted to ***** them out about it.

But no matter what, I would not go back to a bike shop who's work apparently nearly resulted in broken bones or death. There is no way I would be nice to them, or buy my new bike there.
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Old 06-09-11, 04:11 PM   #24
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I'm probably more likely to sell this one on Craigslist, and look for another used bike there. I think it's probably and old and somewhat beat up bike and not shoddy work that almost did me in, however. It worked beautifully when I left the shop with it. I went 30 miles on a pothole ridden mountain trail this weekend on it. Seems unlikely, but, like in post #20, I might have shook the screw loose, or bent the hanger, or something.
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Old 06-09-11, 04:51 PM   #25
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Had a similar weird rear wheel lock up when a lock nut came loose on one of the bearings in my rear wheel, the cone then turned on the axle until the bearing seized up tight and I went skating. Fortunately I wasn't going very fast so stayed upright. I don't normally carry cone wrenches with me while commuting, though, so loosened the rear wheel and walked the bike 3 miles home with the axle turning in the dropouts the whole way. The threads in the axle were toast.
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