can always keep anything fixed and use it till I get my money’s worth
out of it.
least that’s what I used to believe.
was before I had decided to repair a few things on my nearly new (at the
time) 20-year-old $200.00 bicycle. The kids had bent both wheels while
checking out how well they could jump it off curbs and the like. So I
spent 4 or 5 hours tweaking the spokes and hammering on the rim before
breaking down and spending $125.00 on some new heavy duty special wheels.
Since it happened in the fall, I put the bike and wheels away for the
winter and threw out the receipt.
Spring I discovered that the hole for the valve stem was too small for my
tube and the rim was very narrow for my knobby tires. I went storming back
to the bike shop where the kid showed me that with slightly different
tires everything would be just fine. So I bought a pair of $20.00 tires
and they fit the rims. I forgot to ask the kid about the small hole for
the valve stem, so I just drilled them out to a standard size that would
fit my tubes. As I found out later, this was a good idea, because the
tubes intended to be used with those wheels require an adapter to be used
when filling them with air. Not a nice fact to learn when out on a long
the chain got rusty so I decided to put on a new one and take care of it
this time. The new chain was $28.00, and after looking for nearly an hour
I discovered that bicycle chains apparently don’t have a master link.
You need this “special tool” to take the old one apart and put the new
one together after taking it apart to make it the correct length for your
bicycle. The tool was another $20.00, as I recall, plus a bottle of chain
lube for another four bucks.
a kickstand only cost me about $12.00, and it fit right on after I ground
the bracket a little to fit the frame. Then the pedals started clicking
and the balls fell out of one of the ball bearings, so I just bought a new
pair, adding toe clips as long as I could get away with only $24.00.
pedestrians on bike trails are normally expected to ignore the “keep right” rule, I added a tricycle bell after installing an adapter sleeve
to the handle bar. I had destroyed one of the hand grips while putting on
the bell, so the bell ended up costing a total of $17.00 by the time I was
done buying a new pair of grips.
I probably should have gotten one of those loud horns, but I tend to be
new, softer seat eliminated some painful riding and was worth every penny
of what it took to adapt it to the seat post then adapt the new post to
the bicycle and add a suitable clamp. I think that particular upgrade set
me back about $75.00 or so. But it was worth it. Almost. The seat was
still a bit hard, so I added a sheepskin cover over a gel insert to soften
it a bit more, for only another $47.00.
$98.00 bike rack sure made it easier to take the thing to somewhere where
it could be ridden easily, as opposed to riding on the dirt road we lived
on at the time.
adding a speedometer (they call it a computer) I was able to make sure
that I wouldn’t ever be guilty of speeding, although my overall physical
condition pretty much takes care of that concern. A good speedometer, or
rather “computer,” costs about $30.00 and only requires another
hundred bucks worth of brain damage to install and calibrate for time of
day and tire size. From it I learned that down a long hill I can easily
hit 20 mph at which time fear takes over and compels me to reach for the
brakes. This kind of fear is that which only adults are privy to. You
know, the kind of fear that tells you, “You’ll crash and break at
least 9 bones in all parts of your body and you’ll look like a fool
riding on that gurney in the emergency room.” The other kind of fear
that doesn’t apply here is that childhood fear that tells you, “If you
crash it’ll only make a lot of noise since you’re smart enough to jump
off just before the terrible collision. Anyway, even if you get hurt
you’ll just miss that dumb history test in school tomorrow.”
front brake pads squealed severely, so I bought new pads for both front
and rear. That’s when I noticed that one of the rear pads had ground off
part of the sidewall of the tire, so after installing the new pads and
gaining a new appreciation for those who claim to enjoy working on their
bicycles, I went and bought a new tire and then bought the appropriate
“special tools” to make
the tire easier than the use of a common screwdriver. That time I got by
with less than $25.00, and the front brakes only squealed
half as bad.
rear brakes never did grip very tight, so it was suggested that a new,
stronger cable would take the springiness out of that handle. Before
installing the new cable I couldn’t help but notice that the brake
handles were rusted severely and the plastic coating was splitting and
coming off next to where the cable connects. I bought a new set of handles
for $18.00, and since they were of an improved design, they slipped over
the end handle bars as opposed to having a clamp that would permit them to
be installed without removing the hand grips. The easiest way to remove
hand grips is to not spend that half hour trying to save them first. Just
cut them off and buy another pair for $14.00.
easiest way to replace that brake cable is to not do it. Alternatively,
you can cut one end off of the old cable and pull it out, then attempt to
thread the new cable through the outer covering. Of course, when you try
to push a frayed end of cable through the tiny conduit with all its curves
and bends it would be expected to get caught within the first several
inches. The best solution would seem to be to just buy a complete new
cable. This is potentially fraught with many trials and tribulations,
since these “universal” cables can normally be expected to fit every
lawnmower, motorcycle, boat, airplane, chainsaw, snowblower or bicycle
for yours. I took the smart way out. I left the original cable alone and
live with spongy rear brakes.
this point I had practically a new bike, except that the crank was
clicking. Rather than risk the sudden exodus of its balls from its ball
bearing while a long distance from the car, I set about to repair it. I
quickly found out that they don’t “exactly” have a new assembly that
fits all bikes. They have several choices, possibly numbering in the
hundreds, so I would need to take the bike in to them so they could try to
find out which one might be expected to fit and exactly which adapters
would be needed.
never did like dealing with adapters for such a seemingly simple problem,
so I dismantled the crank and bearings. For the first time I got off
lucky. I only cut two of my fingers, and managed to fix the click by
putting the tiny ball back into its stamped housing and bending the tab a
bit to hold it in. The addition of some better grease took care of the
problem for a trifling expense, save for my injuries and lengthy
expenditure of time. My only regret would have to be that I missed out on
being able to end up with what they call a “long stroke crank,” which,
it was explained would give me more power for climbing hills. Somehow, 5mm
of additional stroke, sounds like a massive amount until you realize that
it is only about 3/16”. That’s half the size of an M&M candy, to
put it into perspective. I do believe I could achieve better results by
fastening a playing card to buzz against the spokes like we did as kids.
(Remember, noise is approximately 51.9471%, or just over half, of any
illusion of power).
all this it became obvious that both of my nearly new wheels had developed
loose spokes, so, you guessed it, they have this “special tool” that
is used to tighten them. And it does, indeed, fit “most” spokes. It
even fit my
spokes, so I just went round and round tightening them and pretty soon had
two wheels just like the ones I had originally taken off and thrown away,
except that the rims weren’t bent. After about six or seven hours I had
trued them up so closely that only somebody looking at them could detect
any wobble. This wobble was not noticeable unless the wheel was turning.
And the spongy brake cable actually helped absorb the pulsations, so once
again I am glad that I left well enough alone.
at this point mindful of the need to carry a bottle of water, I bought one
of those water bottles that fits into a little wire holder that you
purchase and fasten to one of the frame members. What a great invention!
It is only superseded by one that has a compartment on the bottom that
holds a small assortment of emergency tools and tube patch kit. Of course,
I bought it. Then I had to figure out how to mount it to the bicycle
frame. I finally drilled and tapped two holes and fastened the thing on.
The water sort of tasted like rubber, but other than that, I felt a
certain security just by having those tools with me at all times.
also determined that I should have a bag that would mount on the
handlebars, so that I might carry all of my “special tools” with me at
all times, plus a few other items that might come in handy when more than 2
from the car. I broke my tricycle bell when moving it to mount the bag, so
then I had to go back and buy a better one, which went on easily after
sawing off the old one to avoid destroying yet another set of grips. I
sense some sort of conspiracy between different manufacturers to help sell
more hand grips.
heard about a better seat when my sheepskin pad wore out, so I bought one,
and it was just terrible. The addition of a special Gel pad and cover made
it much better at a cost of only about $80.00 for both, that is after the
$46.00 for the seat. By raising the seat up very high, I found out that I
could get better leverage for easier pedaling, and the longer seat post
and adapters only cost $19.95, plus $8.95 for a better clamp to prevent
the seat from working its way back down as I rode.
bike just kept getting better and better!!
the seat higher my wrists then took more of a load and the length of ride
was in a large part determined by how much pain my wrists and shoulders
could endure. They have a fix for this, I was told. Simply raise the
handlebars the same amount I had raised the seat and my problems will be
is, my handlebar stem only went up about an eighth of an inch before
getting to the line stamped in it that says, “Danger, do not raise
beyond this line.”
of course they have a longer handlebar mount. And it’s only $19.95 for
the cheap one or $39.95 for the real good one.
is, I’d have to cut off those hand grips to change the handlebar to the
new stem. I could avoid all this by buying an entire new assembly
including handlebars for $89.95, plus another ten bucks for yet another
set of hand grips. Here we go again. I’ve already got a lot of money in
this bike to get it almost to where I like it, what’s another $100.00?
Then I’ll have a really good bike that is cobbled together in such a way
that nobody in his right mind would steal it. While I’m at it, for only
plus another $15.00 for the adapter sleeves I can add front forks with
suspension, which should give me a very smooth ride. Then a new seat post
with suspension and a set of adapter sleeves included for around $100.00
should make it ride like a limousine.
the guy from the bike shop just called me back. Seems as though my new
brake handles won’t fit the new handlebars, and I should get a new pair
for $23.95. Then with the new brake cables to fit the new handles and the
new shifter kit to also fit the new handlebars, I’ll only end up with a
total of about $289.95 including the hand grips, and my bike will be as
good as new…except we’ll need a different bell to fit between the
shifter and the bag mount, unless I get that new bag that’s made to fit
that application! Oh, yeah, I almost forgot about those brake cables that
might not fit my frame perfectly.
dunno, I just noticed that the paint is looking a bit ragged.
time I really seem to have lucked out! A guy at another bike shop just
called to let me know that he has a brand new frame assembly that should
all my other parts, and it includes two bags of assorted adapters, and it
has a really great paint job, and at $129.95 it would be far cheaper than
sending mine out to get it painted. AND, don’t stop before reading this
sentence, he found an old man in Cleveland who can make me a full set of
cables, custom tailored and guaranteed to fit that new frame, for only
not quite sure what to do. I’m going to guess that when I get everything
all together and try to ride the thing it’ll turn out that my old cranks
the new frame, even with all the adapters, and there’s still the matter
of the wobbly wheels and spongy rear brakes, so I think I’ll just….buy
a new bike!!!!!
need a 20 year collection of boxes of assorted adapter sleeves?
I made the decision and bought myself a new bike that already had all the
longed-for high tech features. It had a pretty paint job, front
suspension, suspension on the seat post, brakes that don’t squeak,
wheels that don’t wobble, and since I bought it with all the features
already put on it, everything already fits!! It’s just great!!!
that I think I need to add one of those speedometers, oops, I mean
computers, and, of course, I’ll need a new bag for the handlebars
because the old one looks kind of shabby. And, of course, a kickstand. A
new bell will also look better due to some considerable amount of rust on
the old one. And, of course, I’ll need a couple of those water bottle
holders and new water bottles, because the old ones are also quite shabby.
there’s the matter of my old, not-very-cool
it should be updated as well. And the gloves should also look cool. Or at
least cooler than my old pair of “White Mule” leather work gloves that
have served me well for all these years, and only cost me $1.50 per pair
in the bulk pack.
should also get a better carrier for the back of the car, since the old
one doesn’t work very well with the different frame of the new bike,
especially when carrying two bikes. The handlebars and brake handles get
in each other’s way.
guy at the bike shop mentioned that I could get a longer handlebar stem
with adapters that would permit me to relocate the handlebars out of the
way of the other bike for a better fit on the old carrier. And in the slim
event that the adapters don’t quite
fit, he has a bunch of them I would be welcome to dig through to get
things to work.
course, the best bet would be to just buy the correct bike rack to begin
with. The problem is that the better one needs a 2” trailer hitch
receiver, while my car only has a 1¼” receiver, so I would either need
to get a different trailer hitch, which might not be available for my car,
or perhaps the manufacturer of the bike rack can get me a special adapter
to utilize the better bike rack. At any rate, it would only cost in the
neighborhood of “from $50.00 to under $400.00.”
This is beginning to sound all too familiar.
here to read about finding bike trails