Dusting off, tightening, oiling, riding

When Lucy’s mum decided, quite rightly, that the lean-to needed sorting out she attacked the job with gusto, pulling everything out, and sorting through the accumulated junk with a mind to a lot of it heading for the recycling centre. However, her eye was taken by the old red Richmond ladies bike I had picked up from an elderly neighbour for a tenner. This was a fine, if old, sit-up-and-beg roadster in good condition apart from a little rust on the back mudguard and rack, and a manky bell.

I said I’d clean it up if she wanted to give it a go. I dug out the size 14-16 spanners and set about tightening things up. The chain was foul, it looked like the dreaded 3in1 machine oil had been used to coat the links, which had then attracted every particle of soil and dust available until a greasy sludge hid the rivets. It took a good thirty minutes to get it down to bare metal. The chain itself was in pretty good condition, so a bit of dry lube later the links were purring over the sturmey archer 3 speed’s cog as I took a test ride to the garage. The brakes were not superb, neither were the tyres, but the creaking coming from the saddle was not unpleasant to listen to, although the saddle itself was nasty, plastic and unyielding.

I rode it back up the hill to the house, just in time to hand it over to Lucy’s mother who had come back to give it a go. It now lives at her house, which is immensely pleasing, otherwise the bike may have just turned into yet another of those bike refurb projects that I start but never finish.

bike and chainNext I turned my attention to my youngest son’s bike. This bicycle was the one our eldest learned to ride on, but now he has his BMX. Our youngest taught himself how to ride in an afternoon, with a little help from his grandfather. The bike itself has been a little neglected, and in true first bike style had been left out in all weathers. But it’s very robust, so with more tightening, pulling the wheel back to tighten the chain, and some oil (this time on a pretty rusty chain) it was hammering round the park and the grandparent’s drive again with all the grace of a bespoke racer. Sort of.

Both my full-size bikes need some attention – a snapped spoke on the Lemond and a slight buckle on the MTB. The Brompton is still working though, and I’ve been using it on the occasional commute to Frome.When I find the time, I’ll get those repaired. The Nocturnal riding season is upon us!

Published in: on June 6, 2010 at 9:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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John’s Bicycle Maintenance Clinic

My good friend John Hayes, who long term readers will remember is my summer cycling buddy and who works for Moulton Cycles, came along to one of our Explorer Scouts meetings in order to give a talk on ‘looking after your bike’.

He turned up with a toolbox and stand, looking lean and keen, and I provided tubes, lubes and cleaners. First the Explorers gathered round while John took everyone through cleaning the bike, lubing and simple maintenance. He talked about the basic mistakes that people make, damp in the cables, dirty chains and soft tyres. Then he moved onto how to get some longevity out of your bicycle, mainly through the use of GT85 to chase out water and give a teflon coating. Mike’s chain was pretty filthy, so it was a good opportunity to use it as an example of how to clean and maintain a chain.

All the Explorers had brought along their bikes, and soon we had them all upside-down and John was getting everyone to check over their bikes, clean out the water and muck and relube.

The chain is clean, now the dry lube goes on

The chain is clean, now the dry lube goes on

John then got out his spanners and went round adjusting brakes (including mine, the back blocks had been worn right down in a month by the grit from the muddy roads), sorting out gears and recommending which bikes needed attention from a bike shop (including one that needs a complete wheel rebuild – but that was a 1980s Peugeot). He also shortened Howard’s bike’s chain by two links and sorted out his gear problems.

John sorts a rear mech

John sorts a rear mech

By the end of the night the Explorers departed with bikes in a much better condition than when they arrived, and hopefully John’s talk has inspired them into looking after the bikes a bit better. It was good to see teenagers who had no real bike knowledge gaining confidence as they found their way around the components. Even the simple act of inflating the tyres to the correct psi (45 for knobblies, 85-100 for slicks) gave an instant and marked improvement to every bike. They took them for an excited spin round the car park at ten, and I think all of them were delighted, the thanks they gave John was certainly ethusive and genuine. From Mike’s and my point of view, we certainly felt a lot more confident about the forthcoming cycle trip to Belgium and France, knowing John had given the bikes a good look over.

Afterwards Mike and I took John to the pub for a couple of pints. We left at 23:30 and, as Mike and I both had our steeds and full kit, we briefly considered a quick night ride, luckily the cold wind instantly disuaded us from this excellent, but ultimately foolish idea.

A great evening, cheers John.

Published in: on March 27, 2009 at 12:15 am  Comments (2)  
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