May 11, 2008

Bike repairs

My commuting bike has hard gears. The bike has a 4-speed Shimano hub, fenders, straight handlebars, rack and basket on the back. I would always be in first gear, and only sometimes make it to second. Never third or fourth. And then I read Sheldon Brown's essay on gear shifting. I couldn't write it better than he does, so I won't try. This article inspired me to change the gear on the rear wheel from an 18 tooth to a 20 tooth gear. This change turned out to be pretty simple and it makes all the difference-- I am now using all four speeds and zipping up hills and against the wind, basket filled with books, papers and a computer. The twenty tooth gear cost less than a gallon of gas.

Buoyed by this experience I decided to take on the three speed hub (Shimano Inter 3) on F's bike. He's been complaining about the resistance, and the coasting click sound was really loud. He said it felt like the brake was always on-- poor guy bikes 2.5 km to school every morning. If you lifted the rear of the bike and spun the wheel it would go around once, maybe twice. So, I took the hub apart, laying the nuts and retaining rings on a paper towel in sequential order, and rinsed out everything I could find using chain cleaner. The grease in the hub was amazingly dirty. Re-greased everything inside and out and put it together again. It is a minor miracle that the hub still worked after this, and better than before.

Today I will take apart the headset on my Copenhagen bike.



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