Mechanical course 101

I learnt something yesterday.  Oh yes, I actually got my hands dirty, (sort of), and learnt something that I can now use regularly moving forward.  I remember when I got the Kona both Paul and Andy had been excited to inform that I would be able to perform all of my own maintenance on the bike.  Never again would I have to pay for someone to fix it for me.  Imagine the savings.  And on top of that, it was going to be fun!

Well, until this past weekend I had never really had to worry about maintenance or even fixing anything.  The Kona is a solid bike, and as is the nature of fixed gear bikes, there is very little mechanically that can go wrong, and so you can be pedalling for months without an issue.  Those of you that read my entries regularly will know that last week I did have a “wheel wobble” issue.  The rear wheel was loose and there was a little bit of lateral movement.  It did not take a genius to determine that this was probably not a terribly good thing.  So, as you will have read, I played around with it for a bit and through trial and error managed to dial out the wobble.  I was not at all sure I had done it correctly though.

Not wanting to discover that I had made man error by experiencing a wheel coming off, I dropped round to Andy’s yesterday afternoon and he taught me how to disassemble completely the rear hub, remove all the bearings, clean it all up, grease everything up, put the bearings back into the cones and then put it all back together again.  The most important part is making sure that you lock the locknuts to the spacers correctly without actually putting too much pressure on the bearings cones.  I had done this wrong the first time last week.  I knew this because when I lifted the rear wheel off the ground and gave it a ‘Wheel of Fortune’ type spin, it stopped almost immediately.  It’s a bit of a game.  You have to lock one side, then adjust the other, getting it almost to where you want it, and then tighten the locknut to the spacer which will typically take it that last little bit without over-tightening it.  Sounds easy, right?

The last bit you have to get right is getting the tension right on the chain.  Too loose and it’ll fly right off the chainring.  Too tight and you put unacceptable strain on the links and you could have a snapped chain to deal with.  But getting the right tension and also ensuring that the wheel goes in straight requires a bit of playing and practice.  Again, it’s not difficult, but you have to be patient and work both sides.  Small adjustments on each side will get you there much faster than trying to tighten one side completely and then force the other to behave.

All in all, a very satisfying time.  I think I have a future as a home bike mechanic yet.

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