Coming up short

Partially assembled bicycle in workstand on balcony

José dropped by yesterday to help with the upgrade to Di2 shifting. While I was awaiting his arrival, I took stock of the parts I’d assembled for the job and had a surprise with some last-minute purchases. And the delivery driver stopped in with my latest present to myself.

The Brooks Titanium saddle is a bit of a treat. I’m still looking for ways to ease saddle soreness, and a lot of people swear by the Brooks (including Fearless Leader Joe).

As for the surprises, I’d done some last minute shopping last week in preparation for the work. I’d suddenly panicked at the thought I was missing a couple of essential tools for the conversion to hydraulic brakes: a brake bleed kit and a cut & set tool. Then as I was laying out the parts yesterday morning I found … I’d already purchased them.

The second disc set tool arrived while we were working. It’s a rather pricey hydraulic barb tool from Park Tool, so I’m going to see if I can return it unopened.

Getting it straight

During last week’s teardown, I had trouble removing the rear wheel from the frame. Kuroko had tipped over while posing for a photo the day before, and I was concerned that I’d bent the frame. Closer inspection revealed that the derailleur hanger was bent. So I got a derailleur alignment tool (the purplish thing in the gallery above), and when José arrived we started by spending some time getting the derailleur hanger straightened and aligned again. (I forgot to get an “after” photo until we’d already installed the new rear derailleur.)

The next order of business was the rear brake caliper and its rounded bolt heads. I’d bought a drill and extractor bits. Try as we might, though, we couldn’t get the bits to bite into the remaining material. It was José doing the work here, so it wasn’t for lack of force. We’re going to have to drill out the bolts. Unfortunately, I hadn’t got any drill bits, so we’ll try again next weekend when José brings his bits.

Cranky bastard

The final bit of prep work was to remove the crankset and bottom bracket. In part this was to inspect whether we could route any of the new cabling through the bottom bracket shell (in the end, no), but also I was taking this opportunity to replace the bottom bracket after I’d accidentally pulled out the seals.

The crankset came off with no trouble, but we had quite a time hammering out the bearings. It doesn’t help that the Shimano tool for this falls to pieces (literally!) at every possible chance. Fortunately José is far less fumble-fingered than me when it comes to putting it all back together. But the real challenge turned out to be the rust, which was holding the bearing shells fast. It took an inordinate amount of hammering to get the bearings moving.

I’ve done what I can to clean up the rust and prevent it coming back — spraying the BB shell with WD-40 and coating the new BB with lots of grease. But I’d done that last time as well, so …

Final cleaning before the real work begins

With the bicycle now as stripped down as we were able to get it, I hosed off some remaining dirt and then we went at the frame with some polishing compound. The wind on the Workshop in the Sky was piercingly cold, so we had incentive to put a lot of energy into the polishing. The frame cleaned up as well as can be expected. There’s some paint chipping on the left rear triangle I’ll need to touch up, and at some point I want to remove the chainstay guard, clean the chainstay again and replace the guard.

Threading the needle

Enough with the preliminaries, already! Our first step for installing the new hardware was to route the hydraulic brake lines and Di2 cables through the frameset and fork. I’d left the original brake cable housing in place for this step. We attached a Park Tool internal cable routing line to the rear brake cable housing and pulled it through the frame, removing the cable housing and leaving the routing line in its place. Then we attached a hydraulic line to the routing line, and taped a Di2 cable to the hydraulic line, and pulled them both through the frameset.

The whole thing was a lot less effort than I’d expected. I’d pulled out the grommets in the frame and cut the opening wider to allow for the Di2 cable, but then I had trouble getting the grommets to go back in the frame. I think I’ll cut each one once from center to edge, and that should make the job easier.

The second hydraulic line went into the fork for the front wheel. This was very straightforward.

A junction box too far

Our next job was to mount the shift levers on the handlebars and start plugging in the electronic cables. The rubber hood levers are much more flexible than the Shimano 105 units I’m replacing, which made getting at the mounting screws very easy. The cables from the shift levers come together at a junction box which straps on below the handlebar stem, and that connects with the single cable we’d pulled through the frame from near the bottom bracket.

The cables plugged in easily enough using the supplied tool, but we immediately discovered they were too short. I’d measured everything using a tape measure before ordering, and I thought I’d allowed enough slack. But when it came to putting it all together, everything came up short: the cables from the shift levers to the junction box, from the front junction box through the frame to the second junction box, for the battery and for both derailleurs. Every single cable was too short for the job.

The final issue turned out to be a missing bit for the battery mount. I’d thought the mount would screw directly on the water bottle bosses, but it turns out there’s another piece needed to bring those together.

Shivering in the cold but not discouraged, we did what we could for the day: install the new bottom bracket and crankset, and attach the new derailleurs front and rear.

I’ve got a week now to come up with some new cables of the desired length (but not too long!) and the missing bit for the battery mount. If the latter is hard to come by (a lot of these bits have been on back order for quite some time) I’ll try to work out something with zip ties until I can get the proper part.

Oh, yeah. And we still need to get that brake caliper off.

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