Careful what you wish for when it comes to bicycle rebuild projects. Over the break we marshalled a bunch of old bikes and parts - maybe 5 different wrecks - and other spares to make a nice fast safe bike in city traffic.
Most people these days seem to settle for a mountain bike with knobbly tyres. But this weighs alot. We have one of these already which is nice and robust for towing our bike trailer on slow trips. But on scenic or fast trips you want light racer/hybrid wheels, skinny frame and 'slick' treads. And gears that work smooth in the clinch like Samuel L Jackson smooth. Like Denzel Washington. And with explosive power like Daniel Craig. All those fantasies.
We had some rusty hybrid wheels with good aluminium rims potentially savable via wire brush on power drill and oil to protect from new rust. Also suitable chain wheel/ring - drives the chain off the right pedal via 3 front cogs for more gear combos. As long as there is clearance on the axle of the 'bottom bracket' (see BB below) for the modern chain ring.
Then gears. These can be a real beast. Are the front and back derailers worn out or modern enough to take the extra cogs? Mine were both too small and too worn. Damn. Keep looking.
What about the sprockets/cogs on the rear/free wheel. Is it a "cassette" or single piece asked the bloke at the medium trendy shop. Ans: The former for a hybrid. Is the casette worn out so that the chain skips? Yes. There goes the cheap 2nd hand part via The Bower. A new casette cog assembly comes in at a cool $50 which is no longer a cheapie rebuild. New casette means new chain at $25 because the two match by wearing out together. And chain tool. Add two new tyres at $30 and $35 because the real trendy shop only had those sizes when the tyre blew.
We were already at $140 plus for the perfect gear change on the "cheap". We will be going back to our low rent untrendy suburban bike shop for the gentle prices.
Not forgeting to clean/re-grease the wheel and BB bearings and axles: The BB is that mysterious closed mechanism between the pedals. You need a neat tool to painlessly remove pedals and it helps to have customised spanners to get in there. We had the first but only standard spanners/grippers for the latter .... and suffered accordingly.
Then brakes: Mountain bikes have 'off the forks or old style' but neither fit hybrid/racing wheels. But here scavenging paid off, as did the hard core goose neck on the straight handlebars. Many, many instructive hours later, and too many fiddly detours and hand washes with degreaser and vitamin E cream to mention, we have arrived. Complete with new $10 water bottle cage on clips because there are no bolt holes on the old fashioned chrome frame. Sigh.
Then close to the bell (geddit?) of this 16 round bout the gear switch to the rear derailer started slipping out of position. Not only annoying but also dangerous in those acceleration moments at crossings. Maybe we could just hold it in place? Nah, f*ck that for a joke.We took a day's rest in despair. This has delivered solutions at least 3 times already. We took a second day off for good measure. Sure enough we re-assembled the switch lever slightly wrong. All is forgiven. The perfect gear change for a slightly dodgy left hip.
That's our third bike since the break. Cool. Look out clunky knobby wheels ....
Some lessons for the future: The web, like for most other subjects, is amazingly helpful in learning the ropes about various technical aspects and diagnosis - like skipping chain. People are really glad to record their lessons if you google the right keywords and read patiently. Also get to know your local bike shop when they are not too busy serving customers. Vitamin E cream before getting greasy is very wise for an easier washup. Then use again when clean to rescue the hands a bit more. One might even try gloves? Don't force the tools or threads on nuts and bolts etc. It works or fits or it doesn't. And remember riding a well constructed bike is a joy. And a bad one a misery.
And if all else fails stop being so cheap and buy a new one.
And very lastly, at all costs resist 'stealing' parts off the abandoned racer chained to the fence in front of Marrickville railway for 2 weeks with increasingly bigger signs of vandal abuse - buckled back wheel, bent front forks where the steal cap boots jumped on it with violent purpose. It could lead to awkward moments with lads and lasses in blue, at the early morning cafe nearby, spanner in hand with no key in sight. And we did so resist. The day we finished our sleek mongrel bike the object of our temptation had gone - no doubt to the landfill in the sky via the council workers back from holidays. And it had such nice shiny alloy pedals too. So sad.