WOW.

Bicycle on balcony after completion of maintenance

At last, a job that I predicted — tongue in cheek — would possibly get done in a day has come to fruition. And after only three weekends of work. I finally took Kuroko to the office this morning and drilled out the bolts holding in the rear brake caliper, clearing the way to finish the Switching to Glide project.

Out, damn bolts!

My previous attempts to remove the rear caliper bolts via a breaker bar and drilling came to naught, leaving the bolts more rounded out than ever and just as stuck. So this morning I did what I should have done from the start: take off Kuroko’s wheels for easy transport, chuck her in the back of a car and take her in to the office workshop. There I set to work with a very powerful drill. (There was also an angle grinder on hand if it came to that, but I’m glad to report it wasn’t needed in the end.)

Whether it was the higher-powered drill or a different bit, I was soon making a little pile of metal shavings. After just a couple of minutes of drilling, the first bolt snapped. It wasn’t threaded into the frame, just the caliper (which I’m replacing anyway), so that was one done as far as I was concerned.

The second bolt put up more of a fight, and after a couple of minutes more drilling, the end of the drill bit snapped off. There was another bit the same size in the workshop, but the first bit was now wedged into the bolt, so I was trying to drill through a drill bit. That wasn’t working. But when I grasped the caliper and twisted, it moved fairly easily. I couldn’t just spin it around, but I was able to work it back and forth while holding the bolt head with pliers until it at last unscrewed completely.

And with that, the removal was done. I put the bike back into the bag and the bag into the car, and headed home. Unfortunately it was about the worst time of day to try to drive across Tokyo: lunchtime on a Saturday. It took quite a bit longer to get home than the GPS had at first predicted.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one

Back in the workshop in the sky, I put Kuroko into the workstand and got the parts together for the day’s work. The bolts that came with the new caliper were too long — ridiculously so. Fortunately I’d kept the bolts from the old caliper (the front one, not the ones I’d destroyed with the drill), and they are much shorter. A few millimeters too short, probably, but they are long enough to serve until I find a better length.

With the new caliper in place, I cut the hydraulic line to length and added the various bits and bobs needed to screw one end to the brake lever and the other to the caliper. Adding the hydraulic fluid and bleeding the line was a bit more of a challenge this time around — the line is longer and has a horizontal run, and I was working alone. But I got the job done.

Got it on tape

After bleeding the brakes and reinstalling the chain and rear derailleur (I’d taken it off to prevent damage during transport and drilling), I mounted the swank Brooks saddle. And that left the job I’ve been looking forward to / dreading since before I began this project: retaping the handlebars.

I bought the Supacaz tape probably a year ago when I noticed some tears in Kuroko’s original tape. Since then I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to make the switch. The Switching to Glide project was the perfect opportunity since I needed to remove the handlebar tape anyway as I swapped out steel cables for hydraulic and electronic lines.

The taping job went more quickly than I expected. The results aren’t perfect but they’re good enough for me. If the tape lasts a couple of years I’ll be happy, and I’ll have more experience the next time around.

Supacaz handlebar tape in box
Seeing stars

Ta daaaa!

Bicycle on balcony after completion of maintenance
Ready to rock ‘n’ roll

It has been a warm and pleasant day, and the Workshop in the Sky has been a lot more hospitable than it was when José and I were threading the Di2 wires through the frameset. But the sunlight was fading fast by the time the handlebar tape was done. I quickly chucked Kuroko on the scale and was pleased with the result. Unfortunately I didn’t get the weight before the project began, so I don’t have a direct comparison, but in the stripped-down state — no bags, lights or other attachments than a couple of water bottle cages and an omamori, she comes in well under 11kg.

I raced to change into cycling gear — just what I needed for a quick spin around the block before I ran out of sunlight. Out of the elevator with Kuroko, and then mount up and ride.

Some adjustment needed

The first experience of electronic shifting and hydraulic braking was — how to put it?

Glorious.

Wow. Just wow.

With any change of drivetrain, seating position, etc., some adjustment is usually required. With the Switch to Glide, the adjustment required is in my habits. I’m used to a certain amount of pressure on the shift levers, and a certain amount of travel to make a change. Now both pressure and travel are minimal. The gears just shift. It’s very quick, it’s sure, and it’s almost silent. I can hear the high-speed motor in the front derailleur when it shifts or when it trims in response to a change on the rear, but I can’t hear the rear derailleur at all (at least not in traffic).

Braking, meanwhile, is a delight. Very smooth, very positive, and with lots of modulation on tap. There’s no squealing with the new pads. (I’m using the same brake discs as previously.)

A 10-minute spin around the block is not enough to make a judgment on the new saddle, but the first impression is it’s very slippery. I’m used to having to lift my butt off the saddle to adjust my position, and now I’ll have to get used to trying to sit still in one place. I’m guessing with time this will settle down a bit.

Worth it?

Fujisan in the sunset
Finale

Every penny of it. Every moment of cursing the stuck bolts. Every additional order when I’d bought electrical cables that were too short or a battery mount that didn’t include … the mount part. (I did send back the extra hydraulic brake tool that I ended up not needing and I got a refund.) The electronic shifting is just that good. And the hydraulic braking — I’ll never go back (he says now, before he encounters any issues like contaminated brake pads, bleed issues, etc.).

Of course it would have been cheaper to have bought a bike with electronic shifting from the start. At the time, though, that would have been a luxury (I’d just bought a flat). And it should be obvious, as with the Ol’ Paint make-over, that I enjoy doing the mechanical work as much as I enjoy riding the result.

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