the post

previous book reviews

.........................................................................................................................................................................................................

wire majestic*

judging by the bikes that have been dragged, kicking and screaming from their winter resting place, the part-time cyclists are beginning to swarm. bicycles that have definitely seen better days appear around the bike shed with tags attached to the handlebars that all plead 'make me better'- not always an accomplishable task.

however, knowing that post readers only require to scatter magic dust over their sturdy steeds before venturing into the big world for yet another season, this may be a fine time to break some of the magic dust into its individual components and i propose to start with the easy bits. cables.

now it is either testament to campagnolo's manufacturing prowess, or my perennial and obsessive maintenance on the colnago, but i am about to reach year two on the same set of brake and gear cables.

an astonishing admission i grant you, since the tablets of stone specifically dictate that these items should be replaced at least once a year, and most definitely if they show signs of wear and tear. even more surprising an admission considering a couple of weeks ago i replaced the colnago cork ribbon on the bars which would have been the ideal time to drag the old cables out of their respective caves and feed new ones in. a task that will now have to wait until the ribbon is replaced next time. still, we're not all perfect.

logically speaking, mountain bikes are likely to experience more cable troubles than the average road bike, though there are still a worrying number of so-called mountain bikes that will never see any sort of mud throughout their entire careers, and it therefore my be unfair to categorise any repairs. however, with the current prevalence for so-called full suspension mountain bikes (only 99 for one and we'll send you a second bike free! - a statement that can be put into perspective by realising that a new seatpost for the colnago would cost about another 20), some of the cable routing is touching the outer reaches of what you can actually achieve with todays cables.

put simply, the routing is so tortuous, it's a wonder that the inner cabling moves at all, let alone actuates a pair of brakes or a derailleur at the other end. In most cases no amount of greasing or lubricating will make much difference to the end result. If you own one of these monstrosities, either yourself or for one of your offspring, your expectations must be reasonably low, or they're certainly about to become so.

dealing first with brake cables, the general technique, ignoring the type of bike to which the aforesaid cables are attached, is to unclamp the wire at the brake end, pull the inner wire through from the lever end before unhooking it from the lever and throwing it in the bin. it may be necessary to snip off the cable end (the bit that stops the cable from fraying) in order to pull the wire through, in which case, please use a proper pair if cable cutters if you plan on re-using the wire. believe me, if the end of the wire frays because it's been badly cut, there is no way you're going to be able to thread the wire back through the outer cable and/or eye bolts without numerous stray, loose wires and an eventually ruined inner wire. clamping a badly worn brake inner is just asking for trouble. i normally stock universal brake cables which cater for flat bar levers and drop bar levers and just cut off the bit that is not required. please don't use the so-called cutting part of a pair of pliers. it just plain doesn't work and you can easily ruin a new cable before it's even out the packaging. if you don't have a decent pair of cable cutters, get the bike shop to cut it for you.

the exception to this would be purchasing bike specific cables for high-end bikes. if i'm replacing cables on the colnago, i'd get a campagnolo set of cables. if you use shh you know who, then buy their cables for their gear and brake systems since shimano have an uncanny knack of toying with cable diameters from one groupset to another from year to year and not everything fits anything else - thank goodness we're not on bottom brackets yet. slightly more difficult is the outer cable. you won't know what length is required until it's all in place on the bike and ever frequently the rear brake cable outer is in two bits - one from the lever to the top tube and another from the seat tube to the caliper or v brake or cantilever or mechanical disc (you get the idea). if you are going to this sort of thing yourself, and regularly, do yourself a favour and buy a decent pair of cable cutters. it's not only more convenient but several degrees safer.

starting with the front brake, for heaven's sake, make sure that the stem is at the maximum height you're ever likely to use it at. many a time folks cut the wire and cable too short and the cable virtually describes a straight line from end of the lever to the clamp on the caliper (etc, etc.) in this case, if you raise the stem, it will pull the brake on. be reasonably generous with the cabling - it should describe a gentle curve from lever to caliper. same goes for the front part of the rear brake cabling - cut this one too short and you could find the rear brake pulling on when you turn the bars to the right (or left if you're on mainland europe, or the usa, or anyone else whose rear brake lever is on the right).

the only obvious exception to the foregoing would be those of you major league mountainbikers with hydraulic disc brakes about which i know remarkably little, but i'm learning. since there are no cables connecting levers and discs, but hydraulic pipes, you folks can go off for a ride while the others are replacing their cables. gears are almost a law unto themselves due to the indexing systems in use today and the type of levers on the bike, so we'll let the steam settle and try and remember to carry on from here in the next post. don't fray till then.

*always one for a crappy heading, this one comes from the name of the boat that lies wrecked off bunnahabhain distillery on the sound of islay. it is actually spelled 'wyre majestic' now i know you didn't need to know that.

..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

by the way, i've already had promises of photos for the velo club d'ardbeg web page, so just a reminder: if you've bought an ardbeg cycle jersey, get a photo of yourself wearing it along with your favourite bike, and we'll put them up on a vcd'a page on the post, before we start hassling the good folks at ardbeg to incorporate similar onto their own website. and remember, the official tea stop and club hut is at the old kiln cafe at ardbeg distillery. wear your jersey anytime you visit. if you missed the ardbeg cycle jerseys, click here for a look see.

..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

this website got its name because scotland's graeme obree built his championship winning 'old faithful' using bits from a defunct washing machine

..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

as always, if you have any comments on this nonsense, please feel free to e-mail and thanks for reading.

this column almost never appears in the dead tree version of the ileach but appears, regular as clockwork on this website every two weeks. (ok so i lied) sometimes there are bits added in between times, but it all adds to the excitement.

..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

previous book reviews

..........................................................................................................................................................................................................