Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bicycle mechanics 101

With the exception of some rain this weekend, the next 10 days worth of weather in Boston is looking quite nice. It's gorgeous out today; sunny and 50's. It's great cycling weather if you've got some decent wind gear. I'm anxious to give my That Butt Stuff jersey a go, and see how much the winter on the stationary has improved my riding.

I'm hoping to start mixing in at least 1 day a week of outdoor cycling into our workouts. In anticipation of this, I began the annual tune-up process. I spent several months enhancing my bicycle mechanic skills at Third Hand Bicycle Co-Op in Columbus before we moved, so I am more than capable of handling most standard repairs... or so i thought.

I bought Rach this Topeak cycle computer as a Christmas present after inadvertently being too lazy to remove her old computer mounting from her mountain bike before we sold it. After a winter of letting my bike mechanic skills rust, I figured it would be best to start small and work my way up.

Installing a bike computer should be relatively simple. You attach the computer to the handlebars (or cockpit in the cycling vernacular), run the sensor wire down the fork and line it up with the spot where you put the magnet on the wheel (this is used to track rotations, and in combination with wheel circumference; speed of the bike), install the battery and you're done. 

Clearly, I'd forgotten that almost everything about a bike is made of cheap plastic for the lowest possible price. In this case, the mounting assembly attaching the computer to the "cockpit". There are no warnings in the instructions about over tightening the small post bolts, leading to breaking the joints in the mechanism. So now Rach has a nice computer and no way to use it. I couldn't even rig it with pull ties (the bicycle answer to duct tape), so I'm going to have to stop at the cycling store and see if they have the mounting available separately from the computer. 

Tonight I'm going to attempt to lube chains inflate tires, and adjust brakes. These should all be simple tasks, less daunting even than mounting a computer.

Pray for me if you would that tomorrow both bikes are still functional. 


  1. Best of luck with the rest of your tune-up.
    Mine stalled out this morning at the tire inflation stage and no way to get to the LBS today, so I'm looking forward to an update on your progress!

  2. If bike shop doesn't have the part you need, check the manufacturer's website or call them. They usually have the small breakable bits available separately.

  3. Edie -

    Thanks! The rest of the tune up is tonight as we're going to try to beat this weekends weather by getting the bikes out for at least a short ride.

    Adam - They sell a replacement mounting kit (evidently they know this is a weak point). I checked the web site, and they point me to the store. I wonder if the store actually carries the kit. Will be interesting to see. Either way, this isn't as important as air in tires and lube on chains, both of which I know I can do without breaking things... hopefully!