A Farewell to Head Badges

The head badge succumbs

The Halfakid joined me in the workshop today as we got Ol’ Paint even closer to the point of being ready to paint. We used some new attachments for the Dremel to get into some hard-to-reach spots, polished up the previously stripped areas using 3M sheets, and tapped new threads into the water bottle bosses. Finally, we removed the head badge, which had become scuffed up beyond salvation.

Polished fork crown
This fork is just about ready

Polished fork ready for painting
This is as good as it gets

Stripping the bottom bracketStripping the bottom bracket
Taking turns working the bottom bracket area

The new Dremel attachments worked quite well and allowed us to reach some areas that the larger fittings wouldn’t. But there are still some very tight spaces we weren’t able to reach.

Working around the seat post area
Working around the seat post area

This head badge has got to go

I’d hoped to keep the head badge. The record will show it entered this project unscathed. But I had already scratched it up a bit, and after the Halfakid finished cleaning up all the paint around it on the head tube, it was pretty much done in.

The head badge succumbs
The head badge succumbs

It just took a moment with the putty knife to remove the badge and glue, and then a couple of more minutes with the sander to get the head tube bright and shiny.

Paint remaining after the head badge removalShiny head tube ready for polishing
Head tube cleans up without the badge
Sanding paint off the head tube
Hard at work on the remaining paint

Cuttin’ threads

Tapping a thread in a water bottle boss
Halfakid taps a thread

With the lion’s share of the sanding and polishing done, we turned our attention to the water bottle bosses. The bolts had snapped off in both these bosses. I’d tried extracting them to no avail, and so I’d drilled them out and filled the holes with JB Weld. Today we drilled 4mm pilot holes and then tapped them with a 5mm x 0.8mm tap.

The holes aren’t perfectly aligned but I think they’re close enough, and the tapping seemed to go cleanly once we got the handle tight enough. The proof of the pudding will be in the tasting, after we’ve painted the frame and try to mount a water bottle cage.

Water bottle bosses drilled out, with one showing threads from tapping
Drilled and tapped

Are we done yet?

Now it’s decision time. There’s still some paint in the very hard-to-reach places. I could spend some more time to trying to chase that out (sandpaper wrapped around a popsicle stick, etc.). Or I could say it’s good enough and we’re going to go with this. The paint I’ve bought is formulated to go over existing paint, so that shouldn’t be an issue. I’ve got at least a week now to decide if I want to try more (and I could probably spend quite a few more hours getting the remaining paint) or to decide it’s good enough and to start masking before the paint.

(Without the head badge, I only need to mask the bottom bracket and the brake mounts, I think. The headset bits. I guess that’s everything.)

I’m still thinking whether to try to replace the head badge or let it go. A brief search has turned up some related head badges and decals, but nothing that was an exact match. Sometimes less is more, and the naked truth might be more attractive option in the long run.

Arakawa to Disneyland in the wind

Bicycle leaning against sign for Shinsuna River Station
Fujisan sunrise
Fujisan sunrise

Today dawned clear and cold, with a strong wind. Every time I stepped out on the balcony where Kuroko was waiting in the Garage in the Sky (for example to put on the water bottles or put Nana’s onigiri in the saddle bag) I had to wonder why we were riding today.

Bicycle leaning against sign for Arakawa
Two against nature – Arakawa

The Halfakid took his time getting out of bed and didn’t arrive until 10 a.m., by which time it had warmed up to … uh, 2C. Still, the temperature wasn’t our biggest worry, as the wind was still blowing hard and our destination for the day was Disneyland, at the mouth of the Arakawa. And when it comes to the Arakawa, the wind only blows in one of two directions: upriver or down.

After 14km of city traffic we arrived at the top of the levee and it still wasn’t clear which direction the wind was blowing. But as soon as we descended to the river it become obvious: we weren’t fighting the wind and we made very good time. A string of 30km/h 5km times rapidly followed. We were hampered only by riding through the midst of a marathon, and we had to take care not to collide with any runners or race officials. (I do pity the runners in today’s wind. They were running up and down the river, so at least half the way they were fighting the wind.)

Our best 5km segment flew by in 9 minutes 36 seconds, for an average of 31.2km/h, and at some point along the route I hit 40. When my phone is near, the GPS will display text messages as I receive them. So in addition to dodging the marathoners my attention was being diverted by Nana’s repeated updates about the postman not having arrived when expected.

Bicycle leaning against sign for Shinsuna River Station
Shinsuna River Station

Given our rapid progress, we paused only twice along the 26km river run: once for the restroom and once to answer Nana’s urgent messaging. The wind became a bit more mixed near the mouth of the river, but was still basically with us. We arrived at the end of the path at Shinsuna almost before we knew it.

From there we had to reverse course and beat against the wind back to the Kiyosunao Bridge. The ramp up to the bridge has obnoxious anti-scooter bollards, but we navigated them without incident. Up on the bridge itself, the wind was still basically with us. We were agreeing that the return would be into the teeth of the wind and hence a lot more effort.

Across the Arakawa we zipped downstream once again to the Kasai-Rinkai park. Here we had to navigate pedestrian ways and traffic, and finally more bollards at the ends of ramps which took us over most of the vehicle traffic. At last we descended the final ramp, took a couple of turnings and found ourselves at the goal.

Cyclist using phone in front of Tokyo Disney Resort fountain and sign
Checking in at the Tokyo Disney Resort

At this point it was about 12:30. We hadn’t stopped to snack on the way, and we were both starving! We beat a hasty retreat (as hasty as I could manage, because we were now fighting upriver and upwind) to a convenience store for hot coffee and fried chicken, and then to a park where we enjoyed Nana’s onigiri (in addition to the convenience store goodies).

Bicycle in front of decorative lantern at Nihonbashi

After our break we tackled the Kiyosunao Bridge in the homeward direction. As expected, we were riding into the wind. But it wasn’t as bad as we had feared. When we descended to street level and joined the traffic towards Nihonbashi, though, the wind came on with a vengeance. The Halfakid had once again donned his Uniqlo down jacket, and I didn’t blame him in the least (particularly because he was wearing fingerless, mesh-back cycling gloves!). The wind was strong enough to force me to shift down a gear or two at times, and when it let up I’d give it a minute or two before shifting back up as I expected the wind to renew its force in the meantime. I was rarely disappointed in this.

It had been more than a year since the Halfakid had come this way (I did it solo almost exactly a year ago, and he and I rode to Disneyland from another direction before that), so I had to remind him of the way home: first Nihonbashi, then the Imperial Palace, Kudanzaka (Budokan) and back through Shinjuku. As we progressed along (more and more slowly as we headed into the wind), he began to recall the details of the route.


Tayasumon Gate, Budokan
Tayasumon Gate, Budokan

There was some repair work going on at Budokan, but we didn’t let that stop us visiting our favorite photo spot before continuing homeward. We sped through the usual up-down between Yasukuni Shrine and Shinjuku Avenue, and arrived at Yotsuya Sanchome at the stroke of 3 p.m. — as announced by a large musical clock at the intersection. I’d told Nana I’d be home by 3 — when I was expecting the Halfakid to arrive earlier so we could set out about 9:30 a.m. — but I knew she was out and so didn’t bother to update her on our status. At any rate, we were now a good deal less than half an hour from home.

The remainder of the ride was the usual fighting in traffic, obeying the lights and trying to just establish a smooth pace. Before long we’d passed Shinjuku Bus Terminal, and then the Tokyo Metropolitan Government buildings, and finally were flying downhill towards my abode. I said my farewells to the Halfakid and turned right as he continued straight on for the remaining 8km to his apartment.

Silent (almost) Running

I was eager to see how Kuroko would behave following the recent fine tuning of the new drivetrain. I’m happy to report there were no mechanicals this trip (a rarity when I’m out with the Halfakid), and the derailleurs did their job with aplomb. There’s probably still a nip here and tuck there to do in terms of cable tension — which can be handled entirely through the barrel adjusters — and limiting screws. But overall I had no complaints.

When I arrived home and saved the ride on the Garmin, it uploaded the results via my phone before I’d even parked Kuroko. I knew we’d been making good progress with the wind down the Arakawa, but I was very pleasantly surprised to find I’d posted a new personal best for 40km of 1 hour 30 minutes (just shy of 27km/h). I collapsed into the bath with a cold beer and warm feeling of satisfaction.

GPS track of the Arakawa Disneyland route
Arakawa Disneyland route

More satisfaction: According to Garmin I’ve had Kuroko for 1 year 7 months now, and I’ve just passed 5,000km total with her.

Fujisan sunset
Fujisan sunset

Polishing and adjusting

Detail of bicycle frame with most of the paint sanded off

I’m mostly done with the power tools for cleaning up Ol’ Paint now and I’ve gone back to hand sanding, this time with 3M abrasive pads.

Sanding a bicycle frame

The 3M pads turned out to be very good not only for removing any remaining paint and getting into the nooks and crannies, but also for removing the swirl marks (and even scratches) left by the power tools.

Bicycle frame detail before final sanding
Before and …

Detail of bicycle frame with most of the paint sanded off
Shiny shiny!

I’d meant to keep the headset the original black, but whatever finish it had came off a lot easier than the remaining paint. So I ended up polishing the whole thing silver.

Head badge of bicycle with part of the finish sanded off
Less is more?

Ditto the head badge. Now I have to decide if I want to try to just polish the raised areas, completely clean it up, or repaint it.

I put in a good hour and a half this morning on Ol’ Paint before the workshop closed. When I got home, I pulled Kuroko out of the basement parking to take care of a couple of adjustments left over from the recent drivetrain overhaul. First I tightened up the front shifter cable and readjusted the derailleur.

Rear derailleur with protruding shift cable
That’s too long!

The last bit was to shorten up the cable housing for the rear derailleur. I knew I would need to do this when I replaced the derailleur, but at the time I put it off. Today was the day to clean it up.

Rear derailleur after cutting the cable housing to length
This one was juuuust right

Of course, shortening the cable housing meant cutting the cable shorter and then readjusting the rear derailleur. Hopefully I’ve got it all right and tomorrow’s ride will mark the return of Silent Running.

Headwind home

Biker selfie with helmet and sunglasses in front of Japanese torii
Fujisan reflecting the light of sunrise
Clear skies and windy

Today dawned clear and windy, promising some good riding. Kuroko was still at the office following last week’s debacle with the chain and the midweek almost perfect recovery. I have access to the workshop at the office — where I’m stripping the paint off Ol’ Paint — until noon, so after Nana woke up and made some onigiri, I packed my riding clothes in my backpack and set out.

More shiny

Dremel tool with new and spent sanding discs
Dremel sanding discs

I’ve already done as much as I can with a full-sized drill and paint removing discs so I got some smaller sanding discs for my Dremel and worked with those today. They did a good job, and the smaller dimensions of both the discs and the Dremel tool allowed me to reach areas I couldn’t reach with the larger drill. Unfortunately, the sanding discs were disintegrating almost as quickly as I could put them in the chuck. Despite the short life, though, they were doing a good job of cleaning up the Ol’ Paint’s frame.

Top tube, seat tube and seat staysSeat tube and seat stays
Top tube, seat tube and seat stays

Top tube, seat tube and seat stays
Top tube, seat tube and seat stays

Spent Dremel sanding discs
And then there were none

Once all the sanding discs were wasted, I continued with a cylindrical grinding stone. As this was even smaller than the discs, it allowed me to reach into even tighter joints and crevices. By the time my noon deadline arrived, I had nearly finished cleaning up Ol’ Paint’s frame — at least as much of it as I can reach without investing even more into time and tools.

Practice makes perfect

With my access to the workshop done, I returned to my office to eat a couple of onigiri and to practice emergency chain repair with Kuroko’s chain — the one that broke last week — and my Topeak Hexus tool.

Breaking a chain with the Topeak Hexus II
Breaking a chain with the Topeak Hexus II

Now that I’ve seen the video, I know that one of the tire levers has a 4mm hex key to use with the chain tool. It took a couple of tries, but I was able to remove the bad links and rejoin the chain using one of the rivets that I’d pressed out of the chain.

Bicycle chain and tool on carpet
Never break the chain

With the preliminaries out of the way, I was finally ready to ride! It was already 1 p.m. and I was in Futako Tamagawa, so it was an easy choice to repeat last week’s ride (without last week’s disaster, I hoped!) to Haneda. I changed into my bike gear and stashed my street clothes in my backpack.

Kawazuzakura buds against a blue sky
Kawazuzakura — not yet

The bicycle was behaving and shifting well, although making a bit of noise. I fiddled with the shifter cable tension as I rode. Before I knew it, I’d reached the kawazuzakura trees at the first rest stop on the Tamagawa cycling course. From the looks of it, they have another week or two before they’ll be in bloom. At the picnic table, I ran Kuroko through her gears and made a couple of adjustments before continuing on.

From there it’s less than 5km to my usual rest spot, where I messaged Nana and took a few minutes to really sort out the gears. I knew at this point I’d resolved the chain and cable tension issues, and I set out with more confidence for the final 10km to Haneda.

Biker selfie with helmet and sunglasses in front of Japanese torii
Haneda Peace Shrine

My confidence was well founded, and before I knew it I was rolling into the Haneda Peace Shrine. The skies were blue, although the wind was up, and after taking a picture I sat down in the shade and ate another of Nana’s onigiri.


The ride down to Haneda had gone smoothly and at a very good pace, so I was expecting a headwind on the way back home. In this I was not disappointed. While I’d been making 28-30km/h on the outward leg, I was now concentrating on keeping my pace above 20. For the most part I was succeeding. I wasn’t really willing to push too hard at this point because I knew I had nearly 30km to go and was fighting against a two-month riding hiatus.

Apart from the headwind, the only notable thing about the return was that the front derailleur was making noise, and lagging on the shift up to the larger chainring. Before I’d covered the 10km back to the usual rest stop, upshifts had become a no-go. At 20km/h this is not a big deal, and I kept on in the lower chainring until I rolled into the rest stop.

An inspection of the derailleur quickly revealed the issue: not enough tension in the shifter cable. I used the barrel adjuster to add tension until the derailleur was behaving properly once more, and set out into the wind once again.

Everything was going quite well at this point (apart from the obvious issues of me being old and fat and riding into the wind) and I spent an enjoyable hour working my way back to Futagobashi (the bridge over the Tamagawa at Futako Tamagawa). When I got to the bridge and dismounted to work my way through the pedestrian traffic there, I had a sudden and intense cramp in my right calf, and I had to lean against a bridge abutment for a moment before continuing. Once on my way, I took every opportunity to stretch the calf out fully, and that proved to be just what the doctor ordered.

At last I was on the climb out of the Tamagawa valley, the one that I always whinge about at this juncture. There’s a bit of construction going on not far from the foot of the hill, but the worker quickly waved me through and I was on my way up. Of course I was working my way downward through the gears, but I stopped two sprockets above the lowest as I made my way up at more than 10km/h. It wasn’t my fastest time up that particular climb, but neither was it the slowest.

After a brief stop in the park at the top of the hill where I filled my water bottle, I donned my riding jacket, removed my sunglasses and continued on. I’d messaged Nana that I would be home before 5, and I was confident I would make this deadline. Meanwhile, though, I’d turned on my lights as I knew that shadows would be lengthening by the time I reached Shinjuku.

Things went mostly smoothly on the way home, but the front derailleur began acting up again — in precisely the same fashion as previously. It finally dawned on me that the cable was slipping: the pinch bolt was too loose. As I was nearly home by this time and I was not exceeding 25km/h for the most part, I simply didn’t use the larger chainring. After the final swooping descent down to our tower condo, I rolled the bike into the parking space.

I checked the pinch bolt: Yes, it was not tight enough. I tightened it up and once again increased the tension in the shifter cable. In the bicycle parking, at least, the derailleur is working fine now.

GPS map of Haneda ride
Haneda ride

I didn’t set any records on this run, but that was as expected. The time I posted is quite an improvement over last week’s, when I ended up pushing the bike more than 5km. Along the same stretch today, into the wind, I was averaging more than four times my walking pace. All to the good.

Fujisan sunset with obscuring clouds
Fujisan sunset

On arriving home, after adjusting the shifter cable and locking up the bike, I relaxed in the tub with a beer. Clean and relaxed, I had a look out the balcony window in time to note the sun setting behind Fujisan.

The Halfakid is not available for riding tomorrow, and I have a few things on my list to take care of. I may yet go for a quick ride, but it’s not pressing at this point.

Meanwhile, here are some of Kuroko’s siblings in the wild: