Today, the act of finding out why my bump guard snapped and finding a new one that fits turned into several hours of interpretive bike maintenance.

I found that my front mech is so badly adjusted that I have pretty much eaten through it with my chain since the last proper re-adjustment (when I put a new back wheel on). I’ve adjusted the high and low but I’ll still need to listen out and trim the gears left-a-bit or right-a-bit when changing indexes.

As I was doing all of this, Dylan came out and helped me wipe everything down, clean the jockey wheels with a toothbrush soaked in white spirit and spray things (randomly) with WD40. This is the most cleaning my bike has ever had. Dylan pulled his bike out, flipped it, and started doing things to it too.

(Aside: the act of cleaning things with spirit and a toothbrush with D around felt very poignant. When I was a kid it seemed that a large portion of what my dad did was take things apart, clean them with a brush and alcohol, oil them, and then put them back together. I would set up my Lego next to him on the kitchen table and pretend to clean it the same way.)

High off the success of adjusting my mech (with the help of the Haynes Bike Book) I removed the front wheel and the disc brake for a proper clean and re-fit.

Very big mistake.

Everything to do with bikes leaves me feeling like an oafish child. This was no exception.

I cleaned everything out and put the wheel back on. Things were aligned better than before, but now when I pulled the brakes they stayed pulled. I tried shortening and lengthening the length of the pull, thinking that there wasn’t enough tension to pull the brakes back to their starting position, but after some Googling it looked like a frayed brake cable.

Not having a spare, a little desperation set in. I gave fitting the V-brakes from my parts-doner bike a try but even though my main bike has bosses on the forks they aren’t tapped, and my tap and die are at work, so that was a waste of time.

In the end (and I’m very proud of this, sadly) I pulled the cable out of the outer and chased the frayed parts up to where it was crimped. I cut the end off the outer and threaded it again, rotating and covering liberally with oil, reattached it to the brake handle, through the cable ties and down to the disc brakes.

I once again have the ability to stop, though with three fewer strands to my brake cable and just a wiresnipped end at the bottom (which will wear out rapidly).

Even better, I have the chance to go buy some bike parts. Where Chain Reaction Cycles only offers confusion, Halfords’ web site has confusion and an excruciatingly bad user experience. CRC it is. It’s too late to go anywhere today and I won’t get a chance in the week.

I’m getting a replacement brake cable kit. I could have saved with individual parts, but as a clueless newbie, I thought it made sense to take the safe option. I’ve also got a new chainset and cranks for the spare bike; that promises to be an adventure.

( Photo by Richard MasonerCC-BY-SA-2.0 )