A guy with a Sparrow frame came to me at my shop in Vermont around 1978. His exquisite steel hand-made American frameset was so nice I couldn’t believe it needed any work. But when he told me the seatpost had become part of the frame and no one could get it to budge, I knew I was in for a battle.
Last Sunday, I put Look Keo clipless pedal cleats on two new pairs of shoes and it only took 20 minutes. That’s kind of amazing, because typically there’s lots of measuring and fine-tuning to get the cleats directly under the balls of the feet. Then you test ride, fine-tune, and pedal some more to find the optimum angle for the cleats, which can all add up to a lot of time.
So, two Sundays ago, I’m only six miles into the 62-mile Mount Hamilton Road Race -- less than halfway up the opening and epic 19-mile climb (with 365 corners, one for every day of the year) -- and I hear a “sproing!” Nope, not a broken spoke, a snapped titanium seat rail. Luckily for me, the other rail hung in there and I was able to finish, albeit with a sore left hip from sitting crooked for so long.
One of the most popular parts of my website is my Keep It Quiet page that offers myriad solutions for those bicycle noises that drive us all. It’s been online for almost a decade, and over the years it’s grown as readers like you send me the annoying clicks, creaks, clunks, ticks and skips that you’ve diagnosed and eliminated, and I add the new ones to my page.
If you watch the Tour de France as intently as I do, you’ll notice the amazing mechanics, racing to the scene of a crash, spare bike in hand, diving into the wreckage to extract their rider, slipping his spare bike under him and mightily pushing him up the road. Or even crazier, leaning out of the windows of speeding team cars and fine-tuning a rear derailleur while hanging upside-down! Whatever the problem, they’ve got the know-how, parts and tools to fix it. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen on the rides most of us go on. And when it comes time to troubleshoot, we’re on our own.
It may not look like much, but the chain is among the most important components on your road bicycle. Forget to lube it and pedaling is significantly hampered. Break it, and unless you’re prepared to fix it, your featherweight wonder is almost useless. Choose a quality chain and take care of it, and depending on how and where you ride, you could get a couple of thousand blissful miles out of it. To help, here are my favorite chain tips.
The first rule is to wait until you're ready before checking out your bike and gear post-crash. If you're with friends (and you can still ride), ask someone else to give your bike the once-over, because you might be a little out of it and not see the problems they can. If you're alone, check your bike, but wait until you have your wits about you so you don't miss anything that could cause another crash. Or do it at home if your ride's over and you're getting sagged in.
Whether you’ve got regular old levers that don’t even shift, or the latest models with every bell and whistle, it’s important to set them up right. If you don’t, you can lose braking power and make your bike less safe, you can put pressure on your wrists and hands leading to numbness and pain, and I (and Coach Fred) have even seen neck and shoulder injuries related to lever issues.