40 days and 40 nights

Day 40
5 miles

Tonight was the second and final session of the Womens Mechanics Class at the Bike Depot: Hubs and Derailleur version.

What I now know about HUBS:

Hubs are the center from which the spokes radiate, but they are also, as the word would indicate, the center around which the bike revolves. If you have a dirty or dry hub, your wheels will be reluctant to roll. To avoid or solve that friction, you take apart the hub and perform a degrease/regrease regimen. At the end of this adjustment, and if all the parts are in working order, you’ll feel like you have a brand new wheel.

How to dismantle a hub, in order of parts:

  • Wrench the bolt loose (or just lift the quick release lever) to remove the wheel ->
  • Take the lock nut off the axle ->
  • Place wheel on a table with a rag underneath as a catch-all ->
  • Using a cone wrench in conjunction with the wrench, remove the remaining bolt, then the cone bolt (leave the other side of the cone bolt in tact as it preserves the correct width) ->
  • Remove dust cap with a screwdriver to reveal the ballbearings ->
  • Count the ballbearings, then carefully remove them ->
  • Hold the axle from underneath and flip the wheel over, repeat the dust cap and ballbearing removal on the other side ->
  • Clean both sides of the hub and degrease every part ->

Then, remantle:

  • Gingerly apply a layer of bike grease to both bearing beds (we used Park Polylube 1000 grease) ->
  • Starting with one side, replace the ball bearings one by one ->
  • Sandwich those bearings in with another light layer of grease ->
  • Cover with dust cap ->
  • Slide the axle back through and, holding carefully, flip the tire over ->
  • Repeat process on other side ->
  • Gently tighten the cone and other bolts ->
  • Using an axle vise, find the right tension for the cone bolt (a highly nuanced place/where the axle spins freely) ->
  • Remount the wheel on the bike

What I now know about DERAILLEURS:

A derailleur moves the chain up and down the cogs, thus shifting the gears. When you adjust the derailleurs, the gears should be in neutral position, which in most bikes is towards the outside. There are three main ways to adjust the derailleurs:

  1. Limit screws:
    These are the tiny screws, marked H (High) and L (Low), that live on the derailleurs. On some bikes, it’s easy to see the screws and the metal they come up against, on other bike models they’ll be invisible. But by adjusting the screws, you’ll see how they affect the position of the jockey wheel, etc. The idea is to adjust these screws so that the chain stays within the limits of the cogs.
  2. Tautening the shift cable:
    This really can be done by hand, but a fourth hand tool can be useful if extra tension is needed. At the risk of repeating myself, the idea here is to make the shift cable taut.
  3. Barrel adjuster:
    This is the fine tuner. It should be in the middle of its range when this process begins, maximizing its potential control. It tightens to the left (usually the “loosy” side), but it’s sort of intuitive because left is towards the cogs, and also in the direction the chain should be heading as you shift. The barrel has four grooves around, making every turn just a quarter of a turn.

The best derailleur adjustment pushes the tension to the limit and then backs off just a little bit. From there, and after wear, there’s nowhere to go but loose.

And that’s a wrap for the Womens Mechanics Class. High fives all around!

Me and Mr. Tour de Fat

So it’s day 40 of the bike adventure. I can’t help but think of the Judeo-Christian significance of said number.

But it ain’t nearly over for this pilgrim! 40 days later, no going back to the car habit. 40 days, and still sojourning in the new world of bike commuting.

And, coincidentally, today I had a hang-out/check-in sesh with Matt, the Tour de Fat impresario and co-envisioner of the car-for-bike swap. There’ll be 13 of us when the Tour de Fat circuit concludes this October – I just happen to be the lucky duck who lives in the same town as this fine fella.

He’s on a goodwill mission: delivering wool socks to the car-for-bike swap masses. I was getting mine in person. I would have been happy enough just to hang out, the socks sounded good too, but then I had a surprise in store:  “a fun errand.”

Bonus! Bike Shoes!

Matt and his colleagues have been following the blog and especially loved that I was taking up bike mechanics. The first thought was to get me a glorious bike stand to encourage me along – but I have such a perfect bike that requires so little maintenance, they just decided to reward my blogging efforts with a little spree. So Matt and I pedaled over to Turin Bikes and, well, check out my new bike shoes!

New Belgium, have I told you lately how much I love you? First, you threw down the bike challenge gauntlet that I just had to pick up. Then, you have all these amazing ambassadors of your brand checking in. And now this super blogger reward?! I told you I would blog everyday – I’m just keeping my word!

And so the motif continues, and the end of 40 days is a cause for celebration.

[Remind me of that when I’m inevitably retelling the painful story of my first clip-induced fall.]

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5 thoughts on “40 days and 40 nights

  1. Melissa Highfill says:

    Yeah! Clipless! Be interesting to hear what you think of them once you get used to them.

  2. Aaron Martin says:

    Clipless shoes and pedals are the way to go! The first time I rebuilt my hub I did it solo and was very careful with all the ball bearings. Then while I had them soaking in gas and transporting them somewhere I dropped the container full of gas and ball bearings all over the kitchen floor. So don’t do that.

  3. Jim says:

    …AND new bike shoes? ? !
    Oh, man! I’m glad Matt doesn’t live in my town. He might catch me driving my 35 foot motor home to the Village Inn for lunch!

  4. erin says:

    Grinning ear to ear from that story, Aaron.

  5. erin says:

    Jim, I just knew I would hear from you on this post. The shoes are such a boon, but I felt bashful bragging ’em up like this! Do you really have a 35′ motor home? I bet that makes for some happy memories!


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