Clean up and prep

Bicycle on balcony overlooking city

The weather was clear today, but cold and windy. I spent the time cleaning up and prepping both bikes.

When I last rode Kuroko, I noticed that my shiny clean cogs had turned black. I must have gone a bit overboard with the chain lube. So I had some cleaning to do. In addition to that, I’ve finally received the GoPro I ordered a month ago (thanks to my mother’s generous Christmas present), and so I wanted to mount that to the handlebars.

Photo montage showing various accessories on bicycle handlebars
Getting crowded up front

I’ve already got a lot going on Kuroko’s handlebars — light, bell and GPS — and space is at a premium. When I get around to retaping the bars, I’ll try to leave a bit more space. It was a tight squeeze and took a couple of trial fittings, but it just worked out in the end. (I may yet discover that this placement causes binding of the various cables during turns.)

Photo montage showing bicycle cogs before and after cleaning
From black to silver

The cogs weren’t as dirty as they look — it’s mostly just excess lube plus some road grit. I didn’t bother removing the cogs to clean them, but just used some degreaser and a brush, followed by a hosing down. I’m well pleased with the results.

Cranky

I returned the clean and newly outfitted Kuroko to the basement parking and returned with Dionysus. I’ve only ridden Dionysus once since lending her to Fearless Leader Joe for his Saitama sojourn, and I noticed a catch in the crankset. Just a little bump, once on each pedal stroke.

I spent less than a minute verifying that the pedals were snug in the cranks, and the cranks on the spindle. So that left the spindle and bearings. At this point it could be loose bearings or worn-out bearings. And seeing there’s less than 1,500km since the bike was rebuilt, I was hoping for just loose.

The first order of business was removing the cranks. I found the correct size wrench, got some leverage and put my weight into it. There was the slightest of turns, and then nothing. Before putting too much force into the thing and damaging it, I decided to review the instructions and some videos. Notably, there are some left-hand threads among bottom brackets and pedals, and I wanted to make sure I was turning the right way on the crank. Vagueness abounds in the instructions and videos available (“left,” “right,” “clockwise,” etc. are fairly meaningless concepts in this regard as they all rely on one’s point of view), but I soon found a video that confirmed (a) it’s a right-hand thread, and (b) it might take quite a bit of force at first.

So reassured, I returned the bike. Following a suggestion from the video, I took a minute to remove the self-extracting screw and add a touch of grease between it and the crank bolt. Then I put the screw back in and really gave it my all. And after a couple of efforts, the bolt finally gave.

Hex wrench with broken handle
That’s not all that gave

As happens with these events, I mashed a knuckle against the chainstay when the bolt gave, and the wrench went flying. I was in for quite a surprise when I picked up the wrench: the handle had snapped clean through. I wasn’t even putting any force into the handle itself — this is the result of the flexing of the wrench under the load.

Photo montage of bicycle crankset disassembly
Everything is all right

After that, the crank came off easily enough, and it took just a mild tap with a mallet to free the spindle from the bottom bracket. I spent a moment examining the splines where the crank mounts on the spindle, and everything was fine. There was even enough grease, and it was still clean, so I decided it didn’t need any more.

Detail of bicycle bottom bracket with bearing slightly backed out
Just finger tight

With the crankset out, I turned my attention to the bottom bracket. I decided to loosen up each bearing and reseat it before reinserting the crankset. To my great surprise, the bearing on the crank side was scarcely more than finger-tight. That in itself might explain the catch I was feeling in the crank. After making sure the threads were clean, I tightened the bearing to the recommended torque. The non-drive-side bearing was similarly easy to break loose — just more than finger tight. Well, I hope that’s the extent of the problem.

With the bearings both tightened to the recommended spec, I spun the bearings with my fingers. I didn’t detect any roughness (but I can’t really put any load on with my fingers). I put the spindle back in, checking if there was any misalignment between the two bearings. The spindle went in straight, without any twisting or effort. I tightened it up again and gave it a spin.

Spin test after adjustment

The results were satisfactory. I won’t be sure, though, until the next ride — whenever that will be. Tomorrow I’ll be on Kuroko.

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