With the brake sorted, I ran the derailleur through its paces. There was some wobble in the very smallest cog, so I removed the wheel and undid the lock ring. I decided to give all the gears a bit of a cleaning as I was having a hard time seeing the numbers engraved on one or two. (Cogs go on with the engraved side facing outwards.)
I didn’t get all the grime off, but the lion’s share of it. (The wet chain lube I’m using, which doesn’t come off in the rain, ensures the gears will soon be black again.)
Once the cogs were all back together and the wheel mounted in the bike, the derailleur shifted flawlessly. I returned my attention to the front brake, which was still rubbing a bit after the wheel swap. In this case I removed the brake pads and used a tire lever to compress the pistons, before assembling it all again. That did the trick.
Cleaning up my act
I’d had trouble wrestling the wheel back into the frame while fixing the flat on the most recent ride, and my greasy fingerprints all over the frame were evidence of the struggle. I decided to give Kuroko a bath, culminating in a chain clean-and-lube job. And now she’s ready for the next adventure.
I’ve seen people with similar gashes in their tires stitch them up with needle and thread and continue using them — at least until they get a chance to replace them. But I figured I have no need for such extreme measures when I already have a spare set of wheels with perfectly good tires. Just need to freshen them up and pop them on the bike and I should be good to go.
That was the theory
I built up these wheels a year ago and used them only a few months before swapping them out again. I intend to use them long-term, particularly for multi-day rides, but I have a little more work to do before I switch to a dynamo light full-time. Until then, the slick tires I’ve been using offer a bit more efficiency.
But given these were set up a year ago, and before I realized I was using crap sealant, I knew I had to replace the sealant before putting these on Kuroko again. The tires have been sitting for months and so had almost no pressure, and it was just a moment’s work to unseat one bead. As expected, the sealant inside was totally done for. I spent a couple of minutes sopping up the liquid with paper towels, and wiping up some of the hardened latex. (I didn’t bother trying to remove it all, though.)
I poured in a healthy dollop of fresh sealant — the good stuff, this time — probably a bit more than absolutely necessary. And then worked the bead back on the rim by hand.
And then I wondered: I’ve seen a lot of videos of people inflating tubeless tires using just a normal hand pump. It’s never worked for me. I’ve had trouble even using the Joe Blow with the holding tank. But this time I was working with ideal circumstances: one bead was already seated, and the tire had already been in place on the rim for a year. Surely … ? I attached the Joe Blow but instead of charging up the holding tank I just started pumping air right into the tire. And … Pop! Pop! Pop! The tire seated almost immediately.
I pumped the tire up to the max 60psi and then swirled it around to distribute the new sealant. I bounced it a couple of times on the workshop floor and then inspected the bead all the way around to make sure it was seated: it was perfect.
I followed up with the front tire, and it was exactly the same routine. I was a bit less certain about getting it to seat, but it eventually did after just a few more pumps than the rear had required.
The cogs came off the “old” wheel without much fuss. I nearly got them on the “new” wheel at a single go, but then I muffed it and had to spend some time carefully aligning individual cogs and spacers. Nothing out of the ordinary. I got them on the hub nice and tight, and then it was a moment’s work to get the wheels mounted on the bike.
The wheels were rubbing the brakes a bit, which isn’t unexpected. I decided to adjust the brakes and check the shifting next.
Where theory meets practice
Adjusting the brakes means loosening the calipers, holding the brake lever down (I use a thick rubber band for this purpose) and then tightening the calipers again. I started with the rear, and my first thought was a bit of surprise that the bolts were already fairly loose.
My surprise turned to dismay as I found myself tightening the bolts against no resistance. After a couple of attempts, one of the bolts dropped out of the frame. A close inspection revealed the truth: there were a couple of threads of silver metal around the bolt threads. In other words, the bolt was stripped out of the caliper.
When I rebuilt Kuroko with Di2 shifters and hydraulic brakes, the bolts I’d used for the rear caliper were a bit short — in fact they were engaged by only a couple of threads. Obviously that wasn’t enough, and I knew it at the time. It’s been on my mental list since then to replace them with more suitable bolts. And that time has come. With luck, only the first couple of threads of the caliper have been stripped, and there’s lots of good thread left to engage when I get some bolts of the proper length.
Adjusting the front brake went easily enough, but there’s still just a bit of rubbing after I was done. No doubt these discs are a bit wider than the well-used ones they’re replacing. I’ll take care of that once I’ve sorted out the rear caliper.
It’s binning time!
With all that out of the way (and Kuroko still in the stand), I turned my attention to the gashed tire that started all this. It was, indeed, still gashed. It didn’t take long to let the air out of the innertube and then strip the tire off the rim. The wheel gets stored in the Workshop in the Sky until I’m ready for it again. I wiped the remaining latex off the innertube and hung it over the workstand to dry: it can be used as a spare again.
As for the tire …
Every time something like this happens, my buddy points out what a rotten PR flak I’d make for cycling as a hobby.
I spent most of the day yesterday helping José install floor covering in his new flat, followed by far too much delicious pizza and fries for dinner. I got a lot of sleep last night, but my thighs were still tender this morning. It took 20km or more just to work out the cramps and stiffness.
With the thighs back in action (if not entirely fresh), the ride up to Hamura was routine. I wanted to get in 100km without making too much effort, and to be home before the forecast rain in the evening. Nana hadn’t prepared rice to make onigiri, so I was left to my own devices (i.e., convenience stores) for lunch and snacks.
With those caveats in mind, the progression up to Hamura went without a hitch. There’s a rough bit of pavement in a dip just 2km from the end, and I went over that with an unexpected *crack!* which may or may not have had something to do with events yet to come.
Following my convenience store lunch at Hamura, I messaged Nana I was on the way home. But I got no more than half-dozen kilometers before there was a loud *pop!* followed by a bit of fish-tailing. I brought Kuroko to a halt and assessed the damage: there was a flat, and it didn’t look like the sealant was going to fix things.
I got Kuroko off the cycle path to assess the damage. There was a large tear in the tread, leaving a flap of tread separated from the tire casing. I pulled at what I thought was a some foreign matter, only to discover it was a shred torn from the casing.
It was pretty clear the from the extent of the damage that the sealant couldn’t be expected to patch the leak. But I gave it a try anyway, pumping air into the tire while swirling the sealant around the affected area. No dice.
OK, this is why I carry tire irons and an innertube (in addition to spare sealant and tubeless plugs). I quickly had the wheel off the bike (good thing I made sure I could get the wheel off after the Di2 upgrade) and removed the tire. After making sure there was nothing still sticking into the tread (glass, wire, etc.), I mopped up the remaining sealant and set about inserting an innertube.
The innertube went in easily enough (although with all the sealant leaking everywhere, there was a lot of dirt and gravel trying to get in along with the innertube), and I was soon inflating the tire. There were a few satsifying *pops!* as the tire seated back on the rim.
This mechanical is just getting started
At that point I should have just been able to put the wheel back in the frame, with a bit of wrestling to make sure the chain was taking the proper route around the cogs and the rear disc was nestled in the caliper. Instead, the wheel went in far too easily, and kept going right past the mark!
What the … ? That’s never happened before. I pulled the wheel out and had a look, and then another look: The end cap was missing from the drive side, and as a result the entire spindle was pushing out the non-drive side.
I quickly found the drive side end cap where it had fallen on the ground and pressed it back in place. That’s all it should take, really. But I spent the next 20 minutes or so wrestling to get the wheel back into the frame, with the chain around the cogs, the disc in between the pads in the caliper, and both end caps in place between the rear dropouts. I’ve never had an end cap pop off before and now it just wouldn’t stay in place.
Finally, after lots of swearing and many repeated tries, it all came together again. But what a hassle! If you look at the last couple of photos in the gallery above, you might spot more than a few greasy handprints on the rear tire and the bike frame itself. I was carrying tissues, but no alcohol wipes, and the tissues did little to clean up my greasy hands.
At last, with the wheel back in the bike, I took a few deep breaths and mounted up again.
The innertube held despite the large gash in the tread. (The casing was still largely intact.) I was still going a bit gingerly, as I was concerned there was some damage to the hub and I worried the innertube might not hold. Plus my thighs were really setting up a howl of protest to the abuse they’d been taking for two days in a row. When I got going fast on smooth pavement, I could feel a bump … bump … bump, which I assumed was the flap of torn tread and nothing else.
I’d planned on returning via Futako Tamagawa, the same course as I’d set out on in the morning, but a consultation with the Garmin showed I could take the shortcut home from Komae and still get in my 100km goal. On the plus side, I’d shave off about 5km from the total and get home that much sooner, before the tire gave up or the hub came apart. On the minus side, I’d be in heavier traffic, so any issues might expose me to a greater risk.
It wasn’t really a choice. I stopped briefly at a park in Komae, had a Snickers bar, and messaged Nana that I’d be home within the hour.
I happy to report there were no further issues on the way home. I didn’t press it on the final downhill as I was still worried about the tire coming apart. Nevertheless I reached 40km/h without trying.
The flat took me less than 20 minutes to fix, but with the hub issue the total repair added 40 minutes to the total ride time. I did beat the rain — apart from a few sprinkles in the morning with the sun shining and a couple more as I neared home. I wasn’t expecting to make good time overall, and the total elapsed time of nearly 7 hours for the ride is something of an anti-record. But a moving time of 5 hours 3 minutes netted a respectable 20.6km/h. I’ve done better on this route, but I’ve also done considerably worse.
I got home a good 17 minutes before the time I’d given Nana to expect me, and took my time parking Kuroko and gathering up the various bits and bobs before getting the elevator up to the flat. Once home, I spent a good amount of time washing all the dirty grease off my hands before attempting anything else, and then relaxed in the bath for half an hour. When I emerged, Nana took one look at me and asked if I was OK. I assured her I was fine, just dead. Very, very dead.
I’ve started commuting on the bike again the past couple of weeks (although certainly not every day). It’s been good to get back on Dionysus and fight with traffic again rather than being squashed with the other commuters in the train.
But Dionysus had been sitting unloved in the bicycle parking for a couple of months at least, and hasn’t had any cleaning or adjusting for several months before that. While she was fine overall (after I pumped up the tires before the first ride), there were a couple of small issues. The shifting wasn’t quite as precise as it should be, with a little chatter in a couple of gears and a tendency to come off the lowest gear at the worst possible moment while climbing. (She would just pop into the next lowest gear, and an additional push on the thumb lever would put things back where they should be.)
I have the day off work today, but courtesy of Typhoon I, it’s rainy and cold — the perfect day to get Dionysus up on the racks. I started by cleaning and oiling the chain and inspecting it for wear: it’s still got lots of life yet.
Then I started fiddling with the adjustments, starting with the B limit as there seemed to be quite a bit of extra space. Then the low limit screw and the cable tension. Finally a touch-up with the high limit screw, and a bit more tension adjustment. I think things are where they should be now, but the proof will be in the next couple of rides.
The brakes were an easier go: I just needed to tighten up the cables. One of the cable ends came off during the process, but I have spares on hand. I was able to get the pads in quite close to the wheels as they’re still very true. (The rear is slightly egg-shaped, but that doesn’t affect the rim-to-pad clearance. I’ll take care of that another time.) Now — on the stand, at least — the brakes aren’t rubbing the rims, and they come on quite firmly with just a few millimeters’ pull of the levers.
She could still use a bath — another thing that will wait for a warmer day — but for now she’s ready for the next sunny day’s commute. (Hard telling from the forecast when that might be.)
My goals today were to get in some kilometers and to try out a couple of routes between home and José’s new flat. A welcome boon was an unexpected and accidental benefit from yesterday’s maintenance.
I’d been casting about the past couple of days for a route. As recently as yesterday evening, Nana asked where I was planning to go, and I replied, “I haven’t decided yet.”
This morning the answer was clear: Tokyo Disney Resort. I got off to a later start than I’d planned, in part because Nana was sleeping in (I don’t like to leave before she’s awake) and in part because I was just taking my time getting ready. As soon as I mounted up, something felt off. When I’d added the accessory mount to the stem yesterday, the handlebars were loosened enough to droop down. And I pulled them back up to level when I tightened up the new bolts holding the accessory mount.
But Kuroko was in the workstand when I made the adjustment, in a decidedly nose-down attitude. So when I adjusted the handlebars and tightened the bolts, the bars in fact were pointing significantly upwards.
I figured when I got to Arakawa I’d sort out the alignment using the multitool.
As I rode along Yamate Dori in the thick of traffic, though, I noticed something: with the higher handlebars, I was not putting any pressure at all on the spot where I typically suffer the most from saddle soreness — the spot where I suffered enough injury to scratch from the great Lejog ride.
I’ve continued to suffer saddle sores in this same spot since that ride, despite changes in shorts and more than one saddle. If riding with higher handlebars could solve the issue, then damn the torpedoes, I’m sold!
The potential downsides to riding with higher handlebars are increased aerodynamic resistance and a loss of power from the gluteus maximi, which only come into play when the rider’s back is bent at a 45-degree angle or more. Well, I’m not very concerned with aerodynamics to start with — I just don’t ride fast enough to make a big difference, apart from when I’m bedeviled by headwinds. And as for the power, I surprisingly felt as if I had more. My upper thighs seemed to be providing more of the thrust, particularly on the short climbs that today’s course included. Perhaps with the more upright position, I was putting more of my weight into the downstroke. Or maybe I was just using less power fighting my belly with my thighs.
With the very appreciated lack of butt soreness, when I arrived at Arakawa I resolved to let the experiment continue as I rode downstream. I was assisted in this by the lack of headwind — or indeed any noticeable wind at all. I also noticed my hands rode more easily on the handlebars. With the bars titled up, my wrists were straight and I was less prone to numbness. The numbness didn’t totally disappear, but by the time I reached my first rest point after 14km of downrider riding, I’d been able to handle the numbness by just taking a few seconds to rest one hand and then the other.
I was also making very good time, considering the lack of tailwind. Where I’d typically downshifted previously on the slight rises on the path, I was able to power through, appreciating the slight burn in my thighs.
I made good time down the river, covering the 25-plus kilometers in slightly more than an hour (including the one break plus several stops along the way for photos). My best 5km time was 11:08, or an average of 26.9km/h.
Tokyo Disney Resort
As has become my custom, I did a short loop after reaching Shinsuna, at the mouth of Tokyo Bay, to bring the total kilometers to 40. I had just a short break, taking photos and sharing them with various groups, before setting off again. I’d had a very strong headwind in the last 2-3km down the river, and I was riding into this again once I’d crossed the Arakawa and continued downriver to the Kasai Seaside Park. I didn’t notice much difference from my upright position, but I did have to fight a tendency to turtle in my neck in response to the wind. It was causing a headache.
I was keeping an eye on the clock, because when Fearless Leader Joe and I rode the Arakawa, we’d decided not to go to Disneyland because FLJ had a long ride home ahead of him. Today I noted the time I arrived at Shinsuna, at the mouth of the bay, and then again after I’d crossed the Arakawa, ridden to Tokyo Disney Resort and returned to the bridge over the Arakawa: 45 minutes. Before crossing back, however, I stopped at a convenience store to pick up a couple of cheeseburgers and other energy sources, and then sat in a sunny park to top up.
It was just about 12 when I left the park and headed back into the city. This was still all well-covered ground, and I didn’t need the Garmin for directions. I wasn’t sure what my usual time was for getting home from this park, but I was hoping to reach Shinjuku before 1:30. I stopped briefly at Nihonbashi and then Budokan, and finally reached Nishi Shinjuku just about 1:10.
I didn’t ride straight home but paused at the edge of Central Park just long enough to select the navigation to José’s new flat in Ginza. And then I was off. The route took me through some heavily trafficked areas that looked quite scary on Google Street View, but which mostly proved to be easily handled — apart from one particular uphill intersection at Kita Sando with a rare Ferrari parked in my lane and a scooter in the next lane who refused to yield.
It took me just 38 minutes to arrive at José’s new flat, which he was inside cleaning. But my surprise didn’t work as planned. I phoned him up and asked him to look out the balcony, only to discover his room doesn’t face the main road. Rather than interrupt his cleaning, I entered the course back home — a somewhat different route — and set off.
Here’s where it all goes pear-shaped
A seam in the toe of my socks had been nagging me for several dozen kilometers, and despite my mental reminders to take care of it at the next stop, I kept forgetting. Just after setting off on my final leg home, I finally remembered, and pulled over to take care of this.
The Garmin was giving me clear guidance on the route home, but suddenly started displaying warnings. The display was bordered in red and there was a message that the battery was running low and the system would soon stop working. I was mystified as I’d made sure the unit was charged up before I’d left home. At a subsequent stop I flipped through the screens and saw that the Di2 battery was running low. I decided the warning concerned the Di2 battery, as the Garmin continued to operate and provide navigation clues without going into battery saving mode.
The final route home took me once again past Budokan, but diverged after that from my usual route home. The new goal was to avoid Shinjuku station and the traffic and bad intersections around there. The route (which I’d redone several times via Google Maps and Street View) turned out to be a success. Without a large increase in distance, I managed to avoid some of the worst of the traffic.
I thought I’d be nearing 100km on this trip, so as I pulled up at the intersection nearest home I checked the Garmin: just 82km. Well, I must have miscalculated. If I’d been within 5km off 100, I’d have done a few laps around the block or around Central Park to make it up. As it was, I might as well bring it home and call it a day.
It’s a day
I parked Kuroko in the garage, gathered up the requisite items, and got on the elevator. As soon as I was in the flat and checking the result on Strava and Garmin, I saw a big problem: the segment from José’s flat in Ginza to home was not recorded!
I was concerned when I saw this, because earlier this week the Garmin had simply shut down during a morning commute, after recording just over 2km of a 13km ride. Today was my first try at loading navigation routes on the fly, without interrupting the current ride record, and after a few minutes’ reflection I decided this was not the same thing: it was user error. When loading a new navigation route, ride recording is paused. The first time I realized this and resumed the recording; the second time I did not.
Hence I ended up not having the final 11km of riding on the record.
Of the portion that was recorded, my riding time was 3:48:56, for an average pace of 21.6km/h. This is certainly nothing to sneeze at.
I was going to record the change in handlebar angle as an unintentional mechanical, but given the benefit to my toochis, I’ve decided this does not qualify — I’m going to keep things as they are for the moment. To be clear, saddle soreness is not completely eliminated. But there’s an ache now over a larger area, whereas previously there was pain and injury concentrated in a much smaller area which today found no small amount of relief.
The failure to record the final 11km of riding today falls under user error — assuming I’m correct about the cause!
That leaves the only true mechanical being my sunglasses. Before the ride I noticed the ratcheting hinge which holds the sunglasses over the prescription lenses was loose. As I tried again and again to fix the sunglass attachment to the frames, it became apparent the hinge was failing. I mended things for this ride with a rubber band (apparent in the photos), but this warrants a visit to the optical shop.
I want to replace the grommets where the Di2 wire and hydraulic brake line pass through the frame.
Finally, I got a combined Garmin and GoPro mount to de-clutter the handlebars a bit.
When I tried to disassemble Kuroko for the road trip to Hamanako, I wasn’t able to get the rear wheel free of the derailleur. I got the wheel out of the dropouts, but the cogs wouldn’t clear the derailleur’s jockey pulley. I tried moving the derailleur to a few different positions, and tugged on it by hand. I even played about with the clutch lever. Nothing worked — the wheel was pushed all the way forward until the tire pressed against the chainstays, but the cogs would not clear the jockey wheel.
I searched some of the forums and a number of people have reported this issue with Di2 derailleurs. One solution that occurred to me was an extension for the derailleur hanger. This would move the whole derailleur down a couple of centimeters, and probably create enough room to remove the wheel. But it might make it difficult to adjust the derailleur to be close enough for precise shifting, or even bring the idler wheel dangerously close to the ground. (It’s a very long derailleur cage.) At the very least, it would probably require me to add three or four links to the chain.
I got a derailleur hanger extension and was ready to install that today. But before doing that, I had another go at the derailleur mounting. In the picture above I’ve added some color to help illustrate. Originally the two limiting tabs on the derailleur (in blue) were straddling the positioning tab on the derailleur hanger (in red). I took the derailleur off and remounted it so the derailleur’s limiting tabs are both above the hanger’s positioning tab — rotating the entire derailleur counter-clockwise (in the orientation shown; clockwise when viewed from the bicycle’s drive side).
This immediately gave me enough room to remove the rear wheel without having to deflate the tire or remove the derailleur. It also let me back down the B limit screw, which had been wound out nearly to its limit. Following that I readjusted the derailleur (with a quick check on the internet to remind myself how to do that), and ran it through all the gears. Like butter.
It’s almost as if this was the intended mounting position.
The grommets are the big remaining finishing touch for the Di2 conversion. Kuroko came with cable-operate derailleurs and brakes. In that configuration, the brake cable passed into the downtube up near the headset, and exited just above the bottom bracket. The derailleur cable, meanwhile, ran alongside the downtube, externally.
With the Di2 upgrade came a switch to hydraulic brakes. And a single electrical cable takes the signal from both shifters to the junction box mounted under the bottom bracket from whence two cables emerge, one for each derailleur. With this configuration, I ran the hydraulic hose for the rear brake through the downtube, together with the single line for the Di2 shifting.
Which brings us to the grommets. Previously there had been a grommet at each of the openings in the downtube, with room for the brake cable only. I hacked the grommets up using a razor, and with a lot of effort I was able to get the upper grommet in place. Kind of. Mostly. On the bottom grommet I gave up after a number of efforts.
Then followed a lot of internet searches. I finally located a similar looking grommet from another bike manufacturer that has two holes and is readily available. So I was all set to give these a try today.
… or not. Installing the grommets will require me to unscrew the hydraulic fittings at either end of the rear brake hose, and that means replacing the fittings when it’s time to put it back together. At the start of today’s maintenance work I was gathering together all the bits and tools, and something was missing. There’s a piece missing for the tool to insert the hydraulic fittings into the hose ends.
I emptied the entire toolbox looking for that one little fitting, and came up empty. I found a set of tire levers, which means I’ve been commuting on Dionysus the past couple of weeks without them. I took a couple of minutes out from the maintenance to go down to the bicycle parking in the basement and put the levers in the saddlebag.
So the grommets await another day. I’ll keep looking for the fitting, and then perhaps the next rainy day, now that it’s warm, I’ll get back to it.
(Apologies for so many words with no pictures.)
Kuroko’s handlebars serve as attachment points for the:
GPS unit (Garmin)
It’s all quite tight. When I rewrapped the bars during the Di2 conversion, I tried to leave a bit more space. But the problem is the bars flatten out not far from the center, making them more comfortable for riding with my hands on the tops. The round portion that is usable for mounting has a limited width.
I’ve seen mounts for the GPS that attach to the front of the handlebar stem, so I decided to give one of those a try. I found a model that handles both the Garmin and the GoPro, and that was a sale.
The mounting hardware isn’t very sophisticated. (Nor am I — the first thing I did was drop one of the spacers in the balcony drain.) But it seems solid enough now that it’s together. My only concern is the camera and GPS together weigh a fair bit, putting a bit of torque on the attachment. We’ll have to see how it holds up. (Vibration shouldn’t be an issue as the camera already smooths the image.)
Because the handlebar stem is angled upwards, the Garmin ended up being tilted upwards. I hadn’t thought about that — it probably will not be an issue and it might even make it easier to see the display while I’m riding.
The mount does not permit attaching the Garmin’s external reserve battery. So for longer tours, I’ll have to revert the set-up.
Long overdue for a bath
With the day’s work done — the bits I could do — I gave Kuroko a long-overdue bath, followed by cleaning and oiling the chain. It was showing spots of rust after just a month laying fallow. Finally I pumped up the tires and replaced the bags and pump.
The forecast tomorrow is for warm and sunny weather. I haven’t yet decided a destination, but I’m sure to be out, puffing along somewhere.