No ride today

January 20th, 2012

I didn’t ride in today, as I’m going to NYC for the weekend. That’s too bad, as I won’t get to ride on snow today.

In future posts, I’ll try to break up the monotony of the “Weather” theme by talking about practical things from the day’s ride I wish I had known sooner. Some probably topics are equipment (racks, fenders, bags), maintenance (chain, brakes, storage), and road riding (etiquette, laws, safety, routes).

For today, I’ll mention the most recent maintenance I did on my Crosscheck: tightening the headset. You see, as with any second hand bike purchase, there were plenty of maintenance items that needed to be done. In fact, as my standards for ride quality go up, I find that second hand bikes need an extreme overhaul: new cables, new brake pads, brake tuning, wheel hub cleaning, drive train cleaning, new tires. Like many bike dorks, I try to do the work myself.

In the case of this bike, I wanted to convert it from single speed to geared (I basically bought a really expensive frame at the end of the day), so lots of parts had to go. I also discovered a mysterious wobble when using only the front brakes. It turned out it was a combination of three things: loose front hub axle nuts (i.e. the wheel itself was loose from the frame), worn brake pads, and a loose headset. Immediately after making those changes, the wobble would go away, but gradually return. I would tighten the headset incredibly tight, temporarily solve the problem, and then later have it return.

Fast forward to this weekend. Fed up with eight months of this wobble problem, I brought the bike into Broadway Bicycle School. I described the problem, and the mechanic suspected it was an insufficiently seated star nut: there just wasn’t enough leverage connecting the headset cap to the steerer tube, hence the wobble when braking. As soon as we pulled off the headset cap (I should mention at this point the headset is threadless), not only was the mechanic proven correct (the star nut was seated about 1/4 inch down instead of the 1 1/2 or 2 inches it should have been), but from my latest cranking down on the headset cap, I had actually pulled one end of the star nut out of the steerer tube entirely!

Our first fix, to just punch the star nut to its proper location despite being deformed, didn’t last long. So I was back in the shop last night to bang that star nut all the way out of the way and then insert a new one. This should solve the problem permanently, which is pretty satisfying.

One Response to “No ride today”

  1. Weather Out There » Blog Archive » Monthly Recap: January 2012 Says:

    […] also had non-clothing discussions about a variety of equipment and social matters: dealing with a loose fork, riding in traffic (always a conversation starter), choosing between panniers vs. messenger bags, […]

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