"First things first, but not necessarily in that order."
it was the fellow who owned the post office round the corner. he had a fleet of not exactly high quality mountain bikes for hire. in red. and despite remonstrative protestations from yours truly, he wouldn't explain to prospective hirers that really, he'd prefer if they didn't ride his bikes along the beach at the big strand. because, as i'm sure you've realised, sand gets everywhere; more specifically, inside the hubs, where it cheerfully mixes with whatever's left of the grease lubricating the bearings.
that's how i came to be spending several days of my summer, sitting on the step of thewashingmachinepost bike shed, removing washers and cones, before scraping out that sand/grease mixture. once shiny inside, each side was refilled with new bearings and grease, followed by a repositioning of washers and tightening of those cones.
several of you may comprehend the drudgery of which i speak, but thankfully, it's a repetitive process for which there is little need nowadays. for starters, the majority of quality hubs feature cartridge bearings these days, protected from the majority of aggressive invaders by plastic seals. when they wear out, for whatever reason, 'tis but a simple matter of removing the cartridge and replacing. much quicker, a lot cleaner and, dare i say it, a tad more efficient.
"If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail."
bicycles have been heading that way for a number of years, almost entirely due to the inveterate tinkering of a handful of the world's component manufacturers. i am on record more often than once, moaning ingraciously about several of those developments, mostly on the basis of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. and entirely on the basis that no-one has ever paid any attention, i have been known to quiety relent. heck, i've been riding hydraulic disc-equipped bicycles since the end of november and have yet to turn into a pumpkin.
but, and it's a big but, without exception, review bicycles closeted in that selfsame bikeshed are brand spanking new and on which everything works beautifully. at least most of the time. were those machines to remain in my possession for a year or more, stuff would need fixing, which is sort of where things begin to get difficult.
despite my continued reticence to sanction the option of hydraulic discs on road or cyclocross bikes, i cannot deny that they work. but in order that they continue to do so, somewhere along the road, an amount of fettling is going to be required. that means i have to learn stuff, an all the more onerous situation on the basis that islay has no bike shop. nor does jura. and nor does colonsay. i'm not all that sure that mull does either.
"Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves."
that means that quite a few of us hebrideans have no-one to turn to when things stop working. well, no-one but lennard zinn.
zinn and the art of road bike maintenance, now in its fifth edition, is a telephone directory of a book the cover of which gives credence to its importance within the do-it-yourself cycle community, to wit: "the world's best-selling bicycle repair and maintenance guide". even before that front cover has been opened, the breadth of its mechanical coverage is made manifest: carbon frames; 11-speed cassettes; electronic shifting; carbon wheels; press-fit bottom brackets; integrated headsets; through-axle forks and hydraulic disc brakes, amongst others.
fear not if the bicycle in your own shed is quite some distance from the cutting edge. lennard zinn has more than just a few years of mechanical experience related to bicycles; he's the guy who covers all the technical stuff for velonews, both in print and online and in road bike maintenance he is ably assisted by the illustrations of mike reisel and todd telander. these are all the better for being less than precise in their graphic execution, adding a more homely touch than either photographics or technical illustrations proffered by the manufacturers. they complement mr zinn's words to perfection.
All the electronic devices are powered by white smoke. When the white smoke goes out, device is dead."
but while the illustrations will help you identify the myriad bits and pieces composing modern-day componentry, it is lennard zinn's step-by-step instructions that will get you from broken to fixed in the shortest space of time. it is also a handy method of ensuring any replacement stuff is not only compatible with that to which you hope to fit it, but just how to go about it. fresh from my own specific nightmares, there are comprehensive sections on how to cut hydraulic lines when installing disc brakes or replacing the old, along with that scariest of procedures, bleeding the little blighters.
however, towards the end of those 465 pages, the mood subtly changes from repair to construction, when lennard provides an excellent overview on how to build a pair of bicycle wheels. for an asking price of only £20, this is a bit like receiving a free gift.
even if you've no real intention of attempting to fiddle with any of the obscure parts of your bicycle, knowing where everything is and what it all does will go down a whole lot better next time you visit the local bike shop. in my experience, "i believe the rear caliper might be dragging slightly on the rotor." goes down a whle lot better than "it's making a noise."
not so much recommended, as compulsory.
"I couldn't fix your brakes, so I made your horn louder."
tuesday 12 april 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................