Aaron's Bicycle Repair
Question and Answer Forum
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In this space our mechanics and staff take the time to answer questions from you.
Any bike topic goes!
Q.I was repacking my front Dura-Ace hub and all the bearings fell on the floor. Some went to the same place socks go in the dryer. What size are they and how many?
A.There are ELEVEN 3/16 inch ball bearings on each side. Most hubs, however use 10 on each side. Note: never reuse ball bearings because it is impossible to check them for wear. Make sure you get Grade 25 bearings, the highest quality available. That's all we use at ABR.
Q. What pressure should my tires be?
A. Tire pressure is really a circumstantial thing. Tire makers seem to print whatever they feel like that day on the sidewalls! Some tires list pressure that is way too low for the use intended. Continental street tires, for example, list 56 psi when 80 to 100 psi is really what they should be! Check the side of your tires for a recommendation. For bikes with aluminum rims (check with magnet), you can exceed the highest pressure by 20% for a firmer, faster ride. Like helium balloon that falls to the floor the day after a party, bike tires loose air too. On average 10 to 20 % per week! Therefore, you need to pump up your tires at least every 2 weeks (every week is better).
Q.What is the best chain lube?
A.That's a loaded question! All bike chain lubes are! How's that for an answer?
Really, it matters not what lube you use but how you APPLY it and how clean you keep your drivetrain! Here is the trick:
Shift the chain to the second smallest rear cog
Now, squirt oil on the chain as you pedal backward
Don't just squirt it all over but be deliberate
Try to aim for the top of the side plates
Do the left side then the right
Really get the chain wet!
Keep pedaling backward for a few minutes to work it in
Wipe off the chain
REALLY wipe it off
Your goal is to oil the inside of the chain, very little lube is required on the outside.
NEVER spray oil on any of the gears! And use a drip bottle not an aerosol.
A word about wax lubes, they are not good for the little wheels on the derailleur. There you need a wet lube, or better yet, disassemble and grease.
The lubes we use and recommend at ABR are White Lightning and Dumonde Tech.
Q.I want to start commuting to work. How do I stay dry?
A.Most of the water that gets on you comes from the road, therefore, the first thing you need is fenders. Not the short mudflaps so popular on all the mountain bikes, but full length fenders with struts. You will need to customize your front fender with a mudflap on the bottom. An old waterbottle or plastic jug works great. Two bolts will hold it in place. Use a hole punch to put holes in the fender. Fenders also keep your bike much cleaner!
Website on how to make mudflaps
The second thing is good rain gear. Most shops carry a good selection. We sell Burley, Bellweather and Cannondale.
Other items are neoprene gloves and booties. We sell Spokes Wear and Sidetrak brands.
Q. What is the best chain cleaner?
A. We have tested the Park and the Finish Line models. The Finish Line is by far the preference of our mechanics. It stood-up to 3 years of constant use in the shop before cracking. It went through 3 brush kits. It has a lifetime guarantee, so we sent it back to Finish Line and they REPLACED IT FREE! The Park is not as easy to use but almost as effective. The Finish Line just cleans better. Pedro's also makes a chain cleaner but it is even more difficult to use. Sorry Pedro!
Q. What does the 'pie plate' behind my gears do?
A. Also known as a 'frisbee', the spoke protector prevents your spokes from being damaged/destroyed by the chain shifting behind the gears. It usually happens when the frame or rear derailleur gets bent just a little. This makes the guide pully on the derailleur think the largest cog is inboard farther than it really is. Then when you shift the chain drops behind the gears. It usually happens on a hill under pressure causing the chain to really get stuck. The spokes take a beating! This problem is not as common on modern bikes with index shifting, but it still happens. The current fad of aluminum bikes makes it worse. The rear derailleur sticks out and is easily bent on even a light fall. The derailler hanger is sometimes made out of a softer material and bends easily.
At ABR we install a $6 pie plate on every bike we Tune-Up. They are small, light and unobtrusive. If you think they are dorky, consider that the alternative (replacing all damaged spokes) costs around $40. We have seen entire derailleurs torn off by the spinning wheel and frames ripped apart. One guy was thrown from the bike and suffered broken front teeth!