The Golden Wrench

A blog about bicycle repair and maintenance by the mechanics at Freewheel Bike.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Crank Bros Egg Beaters Rebuild!

For those that don't have Mukluks or Pugsleys or those that simply choose not to subject themselves to the elements, winter can be tough. A lot of time is spent on trainers and cursing the sky upon waking up in the morning in the dark to huge piles of snow. I feel for you guys, I really do. To ease the pain of putting away the bike for a few months consider tinkering.

I know when I first started tinkering with my bike I was terrified that something would blow up or fall off while I was riding but it's amazing what kinds of resources are out there to help. It also helps to start small, like rebuilding pedals. My personal favorite clipless pedals are Crank Brothers Egg Beaters (you can't beat four points of entry when your cleats are full of mud.) Now before you start telling me about your brother's best friend's cousin's son's Egg Beaters blew up on a ride a few years ago let me mention that they have addressed their earlier workmanship problems.

I got my first pair of Egg Beaters from an awesome friend who had raced a lot of cyclocross on them. Upon attaining them I put 'em through the wringer at Almanzo, Tuesday night 'Cross, and other races I do annually. On my ride to the campgrounds at Carver Park, I felt and heard a very unfriendly creaking in my pedal and that to me means it's time for a rebuild. Lucky for you there was a camera handy to document all of the fun and grime involved.

Here you go, the tools of the trade:
White Lightning Clean Streak Dry Degreaser This stuff melts away a ton of grease and road nastiness and leaves no trace, what's not to love?
Needle nose pliers
Ice pick/awl
(I had two!)
Flat head screwdriver
3 mm hex wrench
8 or 6 mm hex wrench
(depending upon which generation of pedal you have)
Cotton swabs
8 mm socket wrench (I used a 8/9/10 tri-socket for better grippage... yes that is a technical term)
lube (I was going to use Polylube 1000, but this was closer and works just as well if not better)
Crank Bros Egg Beater pedals
Crank Bros Egg Beater rebuild kit

Start with your flat head screwdriver to remove the plug

Once you've removed the plug you'll see an 8 mm nut in there

Grab your socket wrench and either your 6 or 8 mm hex wrench and unscrew the nut. Feel free to pitch it once you've got it out, Crank Bros gives you all of the innards in their kit.

From here you can remove the spindle and admire all of old grease and road muck you've acquired while riding.

Next, remove the seal. The seal has an internal steel reinforcement so it can be somewhat tricky to remove...

Thankfully there are ice picks hanging out around the shop. A little bit of wiggling and you'll be able to get it out.

Next is my least favorite, the most hated bushing. I found it to be the hardest part to remove from the pedal body...

I had to use an ice pick and some elbow grease to break the old bushing to make removal easier.

...and finally the needle nose pliers to pull the tricky bugger out of there. ***NOTE!*** Crank Bros mentions that if you are planning to break the bushing you should wear safety glasses

Lastly, remove the old ball bearings. Mine were stuck in the muck so I had to use a hex wrench to push them out from the opposite side we just removed the bushing from.

Hooray, it's all apart!

Next up we're going to blast all of the nastiness out and off the spindle and body assembly with some Clean Streak.

The best way to keep your work area clean is to fold up a towel and place it underneath to collect all of the refuse.

Crank Brothers advises us to use a paper towel to clean off all of the bits from inside the body assembly but I was worried about the towel tearing and leaving pieces of it inside so I opted for the cotton swab route. This also allowed for deep cleaning in the nooks and crannies. Make sure you clean it all, well, inside and out.

So fresh and so clean, clean...

If you have access to some pressurized air this helps to make sure you've got the last of the grit out.

Once you've got everything squeaky clean, push the new cartridge bearing provided in the kit into the body assembly.

Aah tttssss push it...

Next, get out the new bushing. I've found the best way to make sure it gets pressed in evenly is to use your socket wrench.

Tri-socket wrenches are sooo ergo

Nice, clean bushing.

Now time to place the seal. Make sure the thin rubber lip side is facing out.

Don't forget about that steel reinforcement, use your socket wrench again to apply even pressure to push it into place

Almost there!

Grab your lube and apply the grease to your spindle but only the parts that are going into the body assembly.

Slide the greased up spindle into the body. Take care not to pinch the lip of the seal.

Next screw the new nut on the other end...

Grab the trusty socket wrench and your 6/8 mm hex and tighten the nut to. ***Make sure to tighten correctly or the body assembly could fall off while riding. Crank Bros says 30 in/lbs or 3.5 NM***

Last but not least screw in the end plug.

...almost there


Monday, November 28, 2011

Look OK?

Corrosion Testing of Chains

These sections of new (never ridden, no corrosion) chains were degreased at 4:16pm on 11/28/11 then soaked in salt water (I used table salt) for about an hour. I took them out about an hour later and let them sit. At 7:08pm I was able to see rust forming on some of the chains.

From left to right: KMC Z1X Inox - Stainless Steel $27.99

Sram PC1090 Hollow Pin $76.99

Shimano Dura Ace CN7701 $54.99

Shimano CN6701 $53.99

Shimano - Most Likely HG50 (no part number on chain) $24.99

KMC Z51 $10.99

KMC Z410RB (Rust Buster) $14.99 for Single Speed, $32.99 for 9speed

I left the chains exposed to the air overnight. This is how they looked at 11:00am on 11/29/11.

The KMC Z1X Inox - Stainless Steel plates were not rusty but you can see orange rust on the pins. There was one link that was just starting to get stiff.

The Sram PC1090 only showed rust at the pins but all the links were stiff. The links freed up when operated by hand.

The Shimano CN-7701 didn't show any rust but did have some marginally stiff links. The stiff links loosened up when worked by hand.

The Shimano CN-6701 had some orange rust on one roller. Some links were marginally stiff but loosened up as soon as they were worked by hand.

The Shimano HG50 chain showed a lot of orange rust but the links were not stiff.

The KMC Z51 chain showed a lost of orange rust. There were no stiff links.

The KMC 410RB did not have visible signs of corrosion. One link marginally stiff but loosened up.

* At this point it is possible that the stiff links were caused by the salt solidifying inside the chain.

The chains were re-submerged in the salt water from 11:15am to 11:30am on 11/29/11 then hung up to dry. This is how the chains looked on Thursday December 3rd at 10:45am.

The KMC Z1 Inox chain did not have any stiff links.

The Sram PC1090 had some mildly stiff links that were easily loosened up by hand.

The Shimano Dura Ace CN-7701 had a visible white/cloudy coating but no stiff links.

The Shimano Cn-6701 had a visible white/cloudy coating but no stiff links just like the CN-7701

The Shimano HG-50 chain was quite rusty and had one significantly stiff link.

The KMC Z51 chain was quite rusty. The links weren't stiff but they had some noticeable friction/resistance.

The KMC Z410 RB (Rust Buster) chain did not show any signs of corrosion. The links were not stiff and had no increase in resistance/friction.

12/1/11 10:58am, chains were submerged in salt water again. Over the next 5 days the chains were dipped in salt water randomly and then hung out to dry.

This is what the chains looked like on 12/6/11.

The Shimano HG50 and the KMC Z51 (non-rust buster) had seized links. None of the other chains had stiff or seized links. I was able to get the seized links to start moving on the Shimano HG50 but they remained stiff. I was unable to get the KMC Z51 links to free up.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Nothing Beats Hand Built Wheels

Every year shrewd companies scramble to make the newest, lightest, most aerodynamic, weakest, most fragile, and most NASCAR-looking wheelset so that Bike Rumor, Velo News, MTBR, and local message boards light up with excitement. Gram hounds everywhere, rejoice! For an extra $400 you can lose 30% of your lateral stiffness and shed a face-melting 40 grams of rotational weight!


Then you break a spoke off in the proprietary nipple and it takes 6 weeks to get replacements, and when you DO get a replacement, you have to completely de-tension the wheel to replace the spoke.

Then the freehub dies three times in one season. Two inboard bearings seize up, and one pawl mysteriously snaps in half and chews up the drive ring.

Then you bend one of your fancy aluminum spokes. 100 miles later, it snaps. Then another one, not bent in the above incident, snaps. They cost $10 each, and they're not even anodized exactly the same color as the originals.

Then the rims that are supposedly "tubeless ready" get you stranded in the field because you can't get a tire to seat properly without an air compressor cranked up to 120 PSI. Funny, other "tubeless ready" setups don't need that much pressure...

Then you are in the biggest race of your life, pushing yourself to the limits, and you stop pedaling, only to have your blingy, ultra-loud, ultra-engagement freehub keep spinning with the wheel, winding your chain up into your spokes. Thus ends your race, and possibly your season!

All of these lessons we've had to learn the hard way. We wanted to believe the glowing magazine reviews and message boards. We wanted to believe that such-and-such company was really producing superlight wheels that were bombproof and laterally stiff and armed to the teeth against the elements. When those wheels failed the first time, we thought it was a fluke. When they failed repeatedly, we woke up.

You know, some system-built wheels are awesome, especially for road bikes. Most, however, utterly fail to live up to the hype that surrounds them from a performance, durability, longevity, serviceability, or cost-effectiveness perspective. And if you end up with a wheel from a fly-by-night company, who is going to service it for you when the design features which made that fly-by-night company a fly-by-night company go KABOOM?

Customers say "why you sell me this crap?"

This is why we're taking our custom wheel building program to the streets. We've been building wheels since the Nixon administration. We know what works, we know what doesn't work. We know how to save weight, we know how to save money. We know how to make wheels fast, we know how to make wheels last. We know wheel theory, we have the right tools, and most importantly, we have the right people.

And we stand behind our work! And no, I'm not sure why we used a picture with a dirty cassette!

Read more about our Hand Built Wheels.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why Volunteer?

My dad was a bike mechanic, so that implies a few things. First, I always had a couple of bikes because my dad was a bike mechanic. I learned that no one bike does it all, and that you don't take your nice bike out in the mud unless you want to spend the time to clean it. So my nice BMX bike stayed in the house most of the time, while my beater bike experienced unspeakable horrors at the hands of a kid who hadn't developed a caution reflex yet.

Second, my bikes always ran correctly because my dad was a bike mechanic. I never had to worry that something was going to fall off unless I broke it. When I grabbed my brake lever, I did so in confidence. When I broke stuff, I got lectured; when I wore stuff out, no lecture.

Third, I rode used, hand-me-down junk a lot of the time because my dad was a bike mechanic. Aside from my nice BMX bike which I didn't ride much, I rode junk that other people were giving away. I rode a Schwinn Scrambler that my dad took out of a scrap pile and welded back together, and I even had a wheel built around a Sturmey-Archer 3 speed hub so we could go "trail riding" on BMX bikes. This was before we even knew mountain bikes existed!

All of these experiences I see as advantages in my current role as a mechanic at Freewheel, and that's why I see the value in giving back. Being a bike mechanic is an honorable profession, as well as a gift that we can use to help people who can't do what we can do.

But not everyone has the same experiences. Many kids might never know the privilege and responsibility of owning their own bikes. Meanwhile, kids' bikes hang unused in garages or end up as scrap because either they've been outgrown or nobody wants to invest the resources to fix them.

Right now at the Midtown Bike Center, we have a bunch of kids' bikes that need some love from qualified mechanics. Some of them are in need of more than merely filling the tires and wiping down: loose hubs, loose headsets, crooked handlebars, wheels out of true, and structural failure that only trained eyes will catch.

The program is called FreeBikes4Kids and you can follow any of these links to see the volunteer page.

If you're a competent wrench, your skills and example are truly needed!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Have you been to Cuyuna yet?

Everybody is raving about the new Cuyuna trail system in northern Minnesota. I myself haven't made the trip yet, but identifying a bike that has spent time in the iron-ore-rich dirt up there is easy: just look for the coating of bright red dust.

Just a word of warning to anyone who has ridden up there: One of our Cuyuna-riding customers brought his fork to us for an overhaul the other day and it was just as red and dusty on the inside as it was on the outside. Take a look at these wipers and foam rings:

Here's a photo down into the lowers--notice the red dust on the bushings:

This fork was serviced early enough that there was no internal damage, but I can only imagine what kind of havoc this fine-grained iron ore dust could wreak if it was left in the fork for too long.

Moral of the story? Send us (or bring in) your Cuyuna'd forks before they Cuyuna apart!

Monday, November 7, 2011

"Hey, get out of our ditch, you creeps!"

The other day at Freewheel Eden Prairie Deee-Lux campus I saw what I thought was some blurry Bigfoots tromping around in the swamp. I was just about to get their autographs when I realized it was just some random vagrants. They looked like they had tools in their hands.

Was this the disposal crew executing the final phase of an instance of "frontier justice?" Was this some random hippies doing some random "farming?" I don't know.

Tyson walked up behind me and said "Why are those vagrants messing around in our woods?" You could tell from his voice that he was troubled.

I had no answer for him, but I intend to find out.