Back in the saddle again

Bicycle in front of condo entrance

Today I’m happy to report the end (or nearly so) of the saga of Kuroko’s drivetrain upgrade. I had three goals in the upgrade:

  • A further improvement in climbing, from a larger rear cassette
  • Sorting out an issue with a sticking front shifter
  • And performing another (and hopefully last for some time) bottom bracket replacement
Removing the shift lever with a hex key
Removing the shift lever with a hex key

I began working on Dec. 1 and things immediately went sideways as I decided that I needed to replace the shift/brake levers in addition to everything else, to sort out the sticking shifter. I still recall vividly the half-hour wasted with a bike store employee who didn’t seem to understand a bike could have cable-operated disc brakes. With the time wasted, all I accomplished that day was installing the new levers.

Loosening the crankset bolt with a socket wrench
Loosening the crankset

Things went on hold then until Jan. 4, in part owing to a vacation and the New Year’s holiday. The Halfakid dropped in to lend a hand with new cables, installing the new derailleurs, and finally, attempting to replace the bottom bracket. We were able to remove the old (er … the one I installed in September last year) bottom bracket without much trouble, but when we tried to install the new one, of a different make and style, we discovered we needed a different tool.

Bottom bracket pressed halfway into shell
Half-way there

I finally got the tool and completed the bottom bracket installation on Jan. 11. Which brings us to today.

Replacing screws in a rear bicycle dropout
New screws for the dropout

The first thing I did was to replace the dropout screws I’d installed earlier this month with some better-fitting ones. These new screws fit more snugly and flush, and I remembered to use Loctite and not grease when I screwed them in.

Using a torque wrench to tighten a rear derailleur
Tightening the rear derailleur

That done, I needed to reinstall the new rear derailleur. I’d given the Halfakid the wrong orientation when I coached him on the install earlier this month, and it was immediately obvious when I wasn’t able to fit the rear wheel in place. A few long, hard stares at the instructions showed me the error of my ways, and all was soon good. The cable housing is a bit long, but I decided to tackle that another time.

Derailleur, wheel and cable
Derailleur, wheel and cable

Bicycle drivetrain with new chain sized to fit
Getting the length right

With the front and rear derailleurs installed, I had to cut the new chain to length and install it. I’m glad that I was taking my time at this point and checking everything twice, because I nearly forgot to run the chain through the rear derailleur before pressing in the final rivet. (Sizing the chain is done without running the chain through the derailleur.) I’m glad I noticed in time.

Bicycle in stand showing new derailleurs and chain
Drivetrain done and done

Finally it was time to adjust the brakes and derailleurs. The instructions for the new derailleurs are quite a bit more complicated — in part I followed the instructions, and in part I let tuition guide me. I played for some time with tension of the rear derailleur cable in particular. When I was finally satisfied, it was time for a shakedown ride!

Bicycle with helmet overlooking city
Ready to roll

Given the hour (and the fact I’m still overcoming a cough) I just went for a quick spin around the block. It was very satisfying to be back on the bike after a hiatus of two months. The new drivetrain is working well, although I didn’t encounter any hills steep enough to allow me to test out the new low gear. The rear derailleur is good but not yet in perfect adjustment, while the front is making a bit of noise on the larger chainring. Just a couple of tweaks needed and all should be good. And I need to remember to tighten up the front brake just a hair more while I’m at it.

Bicycle in front of condo entrance
Back home again

I’ll probably commute once or twice this week, and meanwhile I’ll hope for good weather on the weekend for the first proper ride of 2020!

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