That’s two sorted

Bicycle pump mounted near crank

Following yesterday’s big redo on Kuroko, this morning I mounted the rear tire and took her for a little spin around the block. It’s been nearly a month since I was on this bike, and after a week of commuting with Dionysus, it took me a moment to adjust. “Why is the saddle like this?” I thought as I mounted up. And then a moment later, “Oh, right … “

It was just a spin around the block, but everything is right with the bike. There’s just a bit of brake squeal from the rear, but I hope that is just things settling in after all the work involving the brake yesterday.

Bicycle leaning against railing, casting a shadow
Me ‘n’ my shadow


Starting with my ride home from work on Thursday, Dionysus was making some kind of rattling sound when I pedaled, specifically when I pushed down with my right leg. I checked the crankset for play and there was none. The noise continued during Friday’s commute. So this morning after taking Kuroko around the block, I brought Dionysus up to the Workshop in the Sky for a looking over.

The first thing I did was to fill up both tires. I’d noticed the rear getting low on Thursday, and so I’d pumped it up with the hand pump before riding home. Both tires were still a bit low this morning so I topped them up.

That done, I turned my attention to the crankset. Again, no sign of play. I was just thinking of removing the chain to see how freely the crankset was turning when I noticed something.

Bicycle pump mounted near crank
A bit more than a whisker, then

I’d put the hand pump back in the mount crookedly, and the left crank was knocking against the pump head. When I pedaled down on the right, the left crank was coming up and tapping the pump.

That took all of two seconds to fix. (I took the photo above after I fixed it.)

Following the fix I took Dionysus around the block and all was well — all except the impatient driver who honked at me, I guess expecting me to pull over to let him pass. I was in the center of the lane to clear a parked car, and I pulled over once I got past that obstacle. The driver took his time overtaking me after that, and I caught up with him again at the next two lights.

Both bikes could use a washing up and chain cleaning / oiling, but Nana has laundry hanging on the balcony today, so that’s going to wait.

Delayed gratification

Bicycle in stand in silhouette on cluttered balcony

It’s been eight months since I pulled both a hydraulic brake line and Di2 shifter cable through Kuroko’s downtube and attempted to cut out the existing grommets with a knife to accommodate two cables in the place of one. This was just one step in the Shifting to Glide project, but it was a significant one because it meant the longest Di2 cable (950mm, in the end) was routed internally and I didn’t have to tape it to the outside of the frame (which is what we ended up doing for the cable from the junction box below to the crankset to the rear derailleur).

I was sort of able to cram the existing grommet back into the frame at the top of the tube after hacking it away with a knife, but the result was far from aesthetically pleasing — to say nothing of the lack of waterproofing. At the bottom, where the cables exit the frame just ahead of the bottom bracket and hence are most exposed to splashing, I’d given up. The grommet was left dangling there, both cables running through it but not even close to where it was supposed to be plugging a hole in the frame.

I searched quite a while and found some two-holed grommets that seemed the right shape and size, but that was some months ago. I’ve been delayed completing the project by:

  • the enormity of the work, which would include redoing the rear brake line and the handlebar tape, and
  • the fact I’d lost a part for the tool needed to redo the rear brake line.

A couple of weeks ago I emptied out the storage box on the Workshop in the Sky (for the second time) and found the missing bit: the mandrel for the disc brake hose cut & set tool. So I’ve just been waiting since then for the opportunity to get the work done. The faffing about with tires last week and earlier today was just me trying to avoid biting the bullet on this job.

Starting at the rear

I already had rear wheel out to remove the inner tube and clean up the old tape, so I started at the rear brake. I removed the brake pads and inserted a block to prevent the disc pistons from popping out of place. This would prevent the brake pads from coming into contact with brake fluid as I removed and then replaced the brake line, and subsequently bled the brakes.

(When I installed the hydraulic brakes the first time around, I did it with the brake pads in place with no issue — but I was tempting fate with my naïveté.)

Next I cut off the end of the brake line, with the barb and olive that seal the line when it’s bolted into place, so I could remove the bolt and fit the line through the grommet. Both the hydraulic line and the Di2 shifter cable fit through their separate holes in the grommet easily enough, but the grommet was just a tad too large to squeeze into the opening in the frame. The grommet looks like soft, squeezable rubber, but it’s not. It’s a tough resin with very little give.

So I had no option but to trim the grommet down to size with a craft knife. I’m glad I had on a 3M glove for this part of the process — I’d have cut my fingers more than once otherwise. As I had the protection, the carving up bit went without a hitch, and on the next fitting I was able to push the grommet into the frame with enough force required to make me confident it won’t just pop out the next time I ride over a bump.

Yes, there’s tape

With the rear done, it was time to repeat the process on the front. Before I could get to the brake line, I had to remove the handlebar tape, which meant cutting through some finishing tape and black electrician’s tape and then unwrapping the actual handlebar tape. It came off easily enough.

Ojisan with a wrench

Easily half my anxiety about this job was in the next step: loosening the bolt holding the brake line in the Di2 shifter. During the initial installation, I’d coached as José tightened these bolts to the correct approximate torque. And then the following day, I was looking at the bolts (left and right shifters) and noticed they had flanges, and the flanges were a couple of millimeters shy of fitting snug against the shifters. So against all common sense (and not bothering to take a minute to check for pictures or diagrams on the internet), I took a wrench and tightened the living stew out of those bolts until the flanges were flush.

Some time back, a local bicycle repair shop I follow wrote an impassioned post about the dangers of an ojisan with a wrench after having a number of customers bring in bikes for repair. The customers would say, “I was having a little trouble with the bike, and then an ojisan said he was familiar with bikes and would help me. And now the problem is much bigger.” And after realizing how I’d over-tightened those bolts, I was afraid I was the ojisan with a wrench (not for the first time, I assure you).

After removing the handlebar tape and pulling back the brake hood, I took a wrench to the bolt in question: it loosened readily and gave no signs of having damaged threads. Imagine my relief!

The upper grommet fit in nicely after I’d trimmed it with the craft knife as I’d done for the lower grommet. Then I used the cut & set tool to put a new barb in the brake line, making use of the mandrel whose disappearance had delayed this project.

That done, I sleeved the brake line and Di2 cable together through some heat shrink wrap for a professional finish. Now, I’m not saying I bought a heat gun just for this one job, but I’m not saying I didn’t, either. (I placed an old work glove behind the shrink wrap to protect the Di2 junction box from the heat.) I’m mostly pleased with the result, although I can’t say that every time I ride Kuroko I won’t obsess over that little blip in the place the two pieces of shrink wrap overlap.

With everything back in place, I used electrician’s tape to secure the lines to the handlebars again. With the changes in the brake line length, the re-taping and the heat shrink, the brake line interfered with the clapper for the bell. After sweating this out for a moment, I rotated the bell so the clapper was clear of the brake line. (I prefer this more horizontal arrangement. The position of the brake line previously prevented the bell ringing when the clapper was in this position. So it’s a win.)

Bleeding to death

I rewrapped the handlebar tape next. I was a bit worried the tape would have lost its sticky power with the unwrapping, but it went fine. I’ve got electrician’s black tape holding it at the top now instead of the decorative tape, but I can live with that.

The final step was to bleed the rear brake. Inevitably, some fluid had dripped out during this job. I got out the bleed kit and topped up the syringe with fresh fluid. It took a bit of time squeezing the brake lever and pressing more hydraulic fluid into the system, but I was soon happy with the result. I tightened the bleed valve on the caliper (not overtightening!) and put the screw back in the brake lever, then removed the block and put the wheel back in the frame.

Happy with that — so far

With the wheel — sans tire — in the bike, I ran through the gears and hit the brake a few times. No problem with the gears at all, while the brake firmed up after one initial pull where nothing happened.

Bicycle in stand in silhouette on cluttered balcony
Silhouette of done

And that’s where things stand now. I’ll have a go at the rear tire tomorrow and (one way or another) take Kuroko for a spin around the block. (It will still be too hot for a full ride.) Here’s hoping I don’t discover any issues on the road that didn’t crop up in the stand.


hand holding bicycle rim, showing latex residue in the spoke holes

With another weekend that’s too hot for cycling, I returned to the maintenance I began last weekend, before I found I had the wrong size rim tape.

I took a few minutes to clean off the glue residue left by the old rim tape, and then applied a layer of new tape. Remembering that the WTB tires are a loose fit, and the fact the tire wouldn’t mount despite my efforts last week, I made it a double layer. The first layer went down smoothly. There were a few bubbles in the second layer, but only in the center where they won’t matter.

I fetched the tire off the bike stand where I’d left it hanging and then filled up the bucket with a fresh load of soapy water. And just as I was about to start I realized I’d skipped a step: I needed to put the valve in before mounting the tire!

Bicycle wheel viewed from the edge, showing fresh rim tape
Double trouble

Getting the tire on the rim went smoothly. I pumped up the charging tank to 140psi, soaped up the tire, and …

A finer class of bubbles

That’s actually about the fourth effort there. It was so tantalizingly close each time. The bubbles were much finer than I was seeing last week, showing that the tire bead was in fact closer to fitting on the rim. I could hear some creaking noises as the tired bead crept closer to the rim’s edge. But there were no loud pops to let me know it had seated, and the tire was getting no closer to being properly mounted than before.

Either two layers of tape was a bridge too far, or the tire is just too old. In any case I decided to put this one aside for now, and I moved on to another wheel.

Getting to the Aha! moment now

Kuroko has been in the bike stand since last weekend for no particular reason. So she was all set for me to remove the rear wheel and try for a tubeless conversion. I’ve been riding with an inner tube in the rear since this infamous moment. So, hot off my success with the WTB tire, I decided to have a go at getting this one back to tubeless.

hand holding bicycle rim, showing latex residue in the spoke holes
Gunk in the holes

It took a few minutes to remove the tire, mostly because the leftover latex had glued the inner tube to the inside of tread. Then while pulling the tire free of the rim, the rim tape started pulling off as well. That was a sign of the trouble.

The rim tape wasn’t pulling off all the way around — it still put up a lot of fight in various places, but I eventually had it off. And then I had a ready visual indication of the issue: latex residue in the spoke holes. This shows the rim tape was leaking: latex shouldn’t find its way here otherwise.

I cleaned up the rim as well as I could and left it to sit in the heat of the balcony to dry for a couple of hours before I try new tape. And as I was setting it aside, I thought, “That rim feels narrower than the other one. In fact, it looks narrower.”

I have four rims from the same company: Hunt Wheels. Three of them have an internal width of 20mm, and one is 25mm. Two of the wheels came with the bike, and then I ordered a dynamo front wheel for Lejog. Finally, I ordered the fourth wheel to replace the one that kept breaking spokes after I’d put the chain into the spokes in the episode that nearly ended my Lejog ride. I’ve just gone through my order history with Hunt, and it’s that last one that’s the 25mm.

Work continues

All this faffing about with tires is just me putting off the real maintenance. I’m off to brave the heat in the Workshop in the Sky once again.


Two bicycle wheels, one without a tire, leaning against a balcony railing

It’s too hot to go riding today, so I decided to take care of some bicycle maintenance I’ve been putting off. But I was unprepared … for the heat.

Since I had a blowout on the rear tire a few months ago, the wheel has been sitting in the Workshop in the Sky while I’ve been thinking about what to do (and riding another wheelset in the meantime). Rather than buy a new tire just yet, I decided to remount the WTB 47mm tires that Kuroko originally came with (although they were mounted with tubes originally). I’ve got four of these sitting around, including one I bought as a spare for Lejog that has never been used.

I was also unprepared for multiple, fruitless attempts at getting the tires to seat. By the second attempt, I was wondering if the rubber had dried too much since I last used these tires. By the fourth or fifth attempt, I could see that all the air was escaping pretty evenly around the rim and decided I’d better re-tape the rim before I suffered coronary seizure from all the pump action.

Yet another thing I wasn’t prepared for

Figuring I’d clean up the rim and add two or three new layers of tape, I pulled off the original tape. It came off easily and in one piece. I opened the package of the new tape and got a bit of a shock: it’s noticeably narrower than the tape that came from the factory. I have 20m of 21mm tape (probably enough for five rims double-wrapped), and the factory tape is 25-26mm.

So I ordered some 25mm tape and it will arrive tomorrow. Then I thought for a moment about whether to continue with the rest of the maintenance — i.e., the real goal of the day.

And given the heat, I decided to wash up and have a cold one.

Two different widths of tape held between thumb and finger
One of these things is not like the other