Amazing act of planning ahead

Bicycle kit, helmet, water bottles and bright yellow pannier piled together on dark wooden floor

José and I have a ride this weekend that has been some weeks in the planning. The forecast has been changing daily, but as I write this it looks like it will be sunny and fair on Saturday, with a good chance of rain later in the day on Sunday. Nana says we’ll be fine on the return as long as we set out early.

Nana has also made a reservation for Korean barbecue tomorrow, which implies a fair amount of shochu consumption. In light of that, and much to my surprise, I’ve begun preparations tonight. I’ve packed a full complement of civvies, plus a change of essentials for the second day of riding; charging cables; the hotel information; my vaccination record; and some basic toiletries. And a rain jacket, just in case.

From the depths of the toolbox

Bicycle with bright yellow panniers on balcony with cityscape in background

I’m taking advantage of a three-day weekend to do some cleaning and light maintenance in preparation for a short tour next weekend. (For which the forecast is now rain, but I digress … )

Kuroko hasn’t been washed in quite a while, and I decided this was time to remove all the gunk and residue from the wet lube I’ve been using and switch to a general-use lube. Following my experience making the same switch with Dionysus, I knew my job would be a lot easier if I left the cogs soaking overnight in degreaser. And that really did the trick.

After the overnight soak it took just a few minutes with a stiff brush to remove all the gunk and grime, leaving me with (mostly) shiny cogs. I applied fresh grease to the hub and locknut, and then spent a couple of minutes fitting it all together again. Then it was back on the bike for some derailleur adjustment and the application of the new lube.

Getting ready to tour

For the overnight tour next weekend, I decided to use the panniers — one at least — rather than a backpack. While the gears were soaking yesterday I mounted the rack which has been sitting on the balcony since … with a start I realized it’s been since I returned from England three years ago. Today, after giving the bike a very quick washing, I dug up the panniers from the very bottom of the toolbox where they’ve been all this time. Unlike the rack (which has had to brave the elements), they look fresh, almost new.

I wasn’t sure if the saddlebag would fit over the rack. It’s not really necessary if I have the panniers, although it is convenient. It was a near thing, but it fits without rubbing (at least when it’s not crammed full), and that’s a good thing because I can use the saddlebag without having to remove the rack on rides when I’m not using the panniers (most days).

I’ve got plans for some longer rides again in the future, and a few more modifications to Kuroko in preparation. But for now, this will be perfect for an overnight trip.

Slow lap around Tokyo

I didn’t post last weekend’s short ride with José. I’d been thinking about riding to Yokohama until I realized the marathon was running the same day, and right over a good portion of our route. After considering the options, I decided the tour of the Tokyo landmarks was more appealing than another jaunt on the Tamagawa cycling course.

We didn’t press hard, and we took our time over lunch at Big Sight. We parted ways at Budokan, which is just a short sprint from José’s flat. Based on a riding time of 3:14:27, I averaged 18.9km/h. The ride brought my total for October to 518km, a level I haven’t broached since May.

GPS record of bicycle ride
Great day for a slow lap

Checking the weather forecast for next weekend on a daily basis now with fingers crossed!

Gummed up

Dionysus has been giving a bit of trouble shifting recently, particularly not being able to stay in the lowest gear, which is important when I’m working my way up the St. Antonio climb on the way home from the office.

I’d also noticed a flap of rubber hanging from the rear tire, and had torn it off on a recent ride. I have a new set of much wider tires ready to go on, and I’m basically waiting for these very good Contis to wear out.

I brought Dionysus up to the Workshop in the Sky on Saturday and had a close look. First, try as I might, I couldn’t find the spot on the rear tire where I’d torn off the hanging flap. There’s a bit of age cracking in the tread of both tires, but they’re both basically very sound. So I haven’t yet swapped out for the wider tires (which I’m not even sure are going to fit — they’re that much wider).

On the shifting issue, the first thing I did was put the chain gauge on. I wasn’t expecting significant wear as I’ve probably put on less than 3,000km since the great rebuild (and 1,000 of that was Fearless Leader Joe in a single month), but the gauge said the chain was half worn out. I decided it was best to replace it, and ordered a new chain. Rather than going with the stock SRAM part this time, I decided to give KMC a try. I’ve read good things about them, and I found a stylish chain at a slight discount to the SRAM price and available for immediate delivery.

After removing the old chain and using it as a guide to cut the new chain to length, I decided to clean up the rear cogs. I’ve been using a wet chain lube since returning from England, where my standard lube had washed off after the first encounter with rain, leaving me with a grinding, poorly shifting and dirty chain. The problem with the wet lube is it attracts every last speck of dirt and grime on the road, and it doesn’t let go.

I filled a bucket with water and degreaser and set to work on the gears with a stiff brush. And after a while, I found I wasn’t removing the caked-on gunk. It was hard to tell at times because the gears were coated black, and the gunk was blending in. But after some time spent scrubbing, I decided to leave the largest gears soaking in the degreaser solution for a day or two while I had a quick jaunt up a local mountain on my main squeeze, Kuroko.

As I scrubbed at the sprockets, silver teeth emerged in places. I had to check to make sure: they had originally been black. The coating has come off with wear. If they’d been silver, it meant I’d have a lot more scrubbing to do.

The sprockets that I’d left soaking in degreaser had come clean easily. The smaller sprockets that I hadn’t left to soak (because I’m an idiot) required a bit more attention with a shop towel soaked in degreaser. When I was satisfied, I rinsed all the cogs in clear water and then used degreaser to remove the packing grease from the new chain. I rinsed that as well and then left it all to dry on a newspaper.

Meanwhile I cleaned and regreased the freehub body. When everything had dried for a couple of hours in the sun, I put the cogs back on the freehub and tightened the lot down.

Detail of bicycle showing new chain
Shiny and new

It was a bit of a chore installing the new chain. There are a couple of specialist tools for this task which I don’t have: one which holds both ends of the chain together while I install the quick link, and another which tightens the quick link into place. Instead I struggled to hold the chain ends together while piecing the quick link together. It took a fair few tries before I got it right, and then I rotated the chain so the quick link was on the upper run, and stomped on the pedal to snap it tight.

I’ll be sure I have both those tools to hand before I try that operation again.

With the new chain in place, I still had to lubricate it and then readjust the rear derailleur. After studying some reviews, I got a new, all-purpose lube (meaning neither wet nor dry), and it went on smoothly.

The adjustment process was a bit more fraught. I spent some time balancing between having the chain securely in place on the lowest (largest) gear and yet having it shift smoothly and quietly while on the highest (smallest) gears. After several attempts and adjusting the limits, the B screw and the cable tension, I struck a compromise of sorts. I absolutely need the chain to be secure on the lowest gear for the St. Antonio climb and its ilk. I mostly use the mid-range gears and seldom work my way up into the highest gears. (Fearless Leader Joe, with his drastically slower cadence, may have some disagreement here.) So for the highest three gears, I was willing to accept some noise but still having reliable shifting.

I’m hoping that with some use, things will settle in a bit more. If not, it may be time to replace the rear cogs — although from the kilometers ridden I’d still say it’s too early.

The bike still needs a washing — Nana had laundry on the balcony today, including my riding clothes — and I want to get rust converter onto those bad rust spots until I have a chance for another repaint.

Finally getting my 右前

Bicycle on balcony overlooking city

Ever since Ol’ Paint was reborn as Dionysus, I’ve been wanting to reverse the brake levers. My preference is for 右前, meaning the right lever pulls the front brake. Ol’ Paint was set up this way, as is Kuroko. Among other things, in a country where I ride on the left, it means I can use the rear brake while I’m signaling with my right hand.

I’ve written about this at length before, when I discovered it was an insufficiently curled noodle (or elbow) that prevented me setting up Dionysus as I preferred from the start. Had I realized at the time, I would have saved the old one as there was nothing wrong with it. But finally, after much searching, I found a noodle with a bit more bend.

Brake noodles and associated bits on a black work table
Those two on the right

It’s easy to see the difference with the new noodle set next to the previous one.

Rolling up the sleeves

Figuratively, of course. It’s too hot for riding today at 35C, so I gathered up my parts and tools in the Workshop in the Sky. I had some flexible noodles in case the new one wasn’t curled enough, and I had replacement brake cables. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to use the existing cable housing or if I would need longer runs.

After laying out the parts I cut the old cables and removed them from the bike. The rear cable can be cleaned up and used again as a spare for the front, but the front is now cut too short to use again.

After that I test fit the cable housings with the new noodle, making sure they didn’t bind as i turned the bars from side to side. Once I was sure it all looked OK, I inserted the new cables, cut them to length, and tightened and adjusted the brakes. I’ll probably adjust them more after the first ride or two, but for now they seem fine.

Surprising discovery

While I was tightening the rear brake cable, I discovered a bit of wire embedded in the rear tire. I’m lucky it didn’t penetrate the tread and puncture the inner tube.

Small bent wire on table between brake noodles
Pesky bit of wire

Being honest about my shortcomings

The other thing I took stock of today was the amount of rust coming through the paint. It’s just been two years since the debut ride following the repaint. There’s been a scratch or two in that time, but mostly what I’m seeing is rust coming up through the paint even where there’s been no damage.

I think it’s likely that the frame wasn’t clean enough before I started painting, or there was some flaw in the technique.

So I’m thinking now about what to do. I’ll most likely paint again, perhaps with locally sourced 2K paint. I’ll try to wire-wheel the whole thing this time around, hoping to make short work of what was a months-long project last time, and find some acetone to clean up with before starting to paint. Finally, I’ll look for some matte clear coat to go with the base color.

All that is for another day, though. For now I’ll use some rust converter on the spots.

Bicycle on balcony overlooking city
My work here is finished

I could have done a lot more today, but I was satisfied with getting the brakes routed. I didn’t wash the bike (although it really needs it), but I gave the chain a thorough cleaning and oiling.

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

Next!

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.

Aha!

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.

Unprepared

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

Bolts and Polish

Freshly washed bike on balcony

I went to the bike shop yesterday and got some M5x18 bolts to replace the shorter ones that had stripped out of Kuroko’s rear brake caliper. These turned out to be a perfect fit, and I soon had a working rear brake once again.

Bicycle rear wheel with clean gears
Semi-clean

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.

Freshly washed bike on balcony
Shiny and ready

The Ol’ Switcheroo

Detail of bicycle tire showing gash in tread

I’m working from home today and the weather is glorious. I don’t know when the urge to play hooky has been so strong.

Telling the monkey on my back to chill, I took advantage of the warm sun to deal with the flat that happened on the way home from Hamura on the last ride.

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.

Gearing up

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!

Detail of bicycle tire showing gash in tread
Where it all started

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 …

Used bicycle tire, folded
Dispose responsibly

Every time something like this happens, my buddy points out what a rotten PR flak I’d make for cycling as a hobby.