Bike maintenance frustrations

I have been having a frustrating day.

I am trying to do the sensible and right thing by repairing my Trek Pilot Road bike. It is coming up for 5 years old and so far I have only replaced the very consumable parts (brake pads, chain, rear cassette). Even then one of the times I replaced the chain and cassette was because I broke a spoke while overloaded on a 90 mile ride to a retreat and the only “easy” fix was a new wheel, cassette & chain 🙁

Anyway the present frustration comes from my front gear cable breaking, I had to continue for 12 miles or so with the rear mech in top gear and the front mech in bottom gear, that twisting meant that the chain also broke – fortunately only a mile from home.

I am still trying to prove to myself that I can use this bike for the Lands End to John O Groats ride this summer (despite the temptations of nice Carbon Fibre Bikes). So I decided to get things sorted out now for the summer.

That meant a bit of a spending spree, I can see why people decide to simply buy a new bike every few years as the costs soon mount up (although partly because I needed some new tyres for other bikes as well).

So this morning I cleaned the bike and removed all the bits needed replacing or properly cleaning. In the process I noticed that it was not going to be worth cleaning the chainrings as they are all very worn and if used with a new chain will wear that out quickly. Now comes the really time consuming part. Things have moved on in 5 years and so finding replacement chainrings is not so easy. For example Wiggle had inner and middle chainrings that were suitable but not a matching outer.

Bizarrely in the end it has worked out cheaper to install a spare Shimano Hollowtech II bottom bracket (left over from my attempts to fit a chainglider to my Bullitt cargobike) and buy a new Shimano Tiagra Chainset for it. I’ll be able to collect that from Rutland Cycling before Wednesday.

Until then I have two derailliers to clean, new cassette to fit, new brake & gear cables & new handlebar tape.

I am also going to try Speedplay Frog pedals instead of my Shimano A530’s, they won’t let me ride in normal shoes but will give a lot more float and I am hoping that will prove knee friendly as I have been having some problems with my right knee recently.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

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  1. Sorry about your knee Dave. Hope it will soon be better. I thought my bike (60 years ago) was advanced but sounds now as if maintenance is as complicated as for a car. Cycling now, though, must be a lot more comfortable. Many thanks for discussing the Lent display and for help offered by Dorothy. This will be a huge help and I shall liaise with her this weekend. I’ll keep you informed.
    Best wishes, Murray

    • Murray,

      The knee is not too bad, just plays up at times. Generally it does seem to prefer my more upright bikes though.

      Some of the bits are now more complicated (like the combined gear and brake levers on my road bike). But you can still take lots of the bits apart for cleaning and to replace some of the parts.

      The complication is that with things constantly improving there are are more ways of doing the same thing. For example the tapered square bottom bracket axle replaced the style with cotter pins and lasted for years, since then there have been lots more different bottom bracket styles.

      There are lots of benefits in lighter weight and better performance (especially brakes & gears) but sadly often at the expense of longevity.

      Good news about the lent display 🙂

  2. New chainset with chainrings included is very often cheaper than buying the chainrings separately isn’t it.

    As far as carbon bikes go.. I think I’d still prefer something in titanium. Looking at the Van Nicholas Yukon the other day. Looked nice, comfortable, fairly practical and not too heavy for a light tourer style bike. One day maybe.

    Suffering with a knee here too. Got an old skiing injury where my legs went different ways (took up snowboarding shortly after to make sure legs were fixed together!). My knee seems to get worse in colder weather and have found a knee support, especially a warm neoprene one (from Boots!) to be quite a help. I think the warmth is as beneficial as the support.

    • Hi Adam,

      That pricing is daft though isn’t it. Much more work, material and transport costs in a whole chainset.

      H’mm, I have not looked seriously at titanium and beyond a bit of lusting not that seriously at carbon either 🙂

      Realistically the idea of a carbon bike was a fantasy that lasted only a day before realism hit again. At the point when I do replace my trek I suspect it will be a medium weight touring bike made of steel. It seems to me to be the best compromise between being environmentally friendly, long life (including possibility of repairs), comfort and if high quality then also reasonably light. That is unless bamboo or flax really take off for bike production 🙂

      Anyway if I wait a while longer some of the things I would like might become available (such as centre track gates belt drive, rohloff with drop handlebars & sti shifter or maybe Alfine 11 speed)

      I have the same knee support from Boots. Agree it does keep knees warm (well hot and sweaty really). When at it’s worst I can’t stand to pedal but far fewer problems when sitting down and also better on more upright bikes. Climbing stairs also affected.

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