Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Brake Check!

I spent the better part of an hour rooting through the discombobulation that has encompassed The Goat's braking system -- specifically, the rear.

I've done a LOT of seriously abusive riding recently. This includes riding down or simply leaping at speed off of urban stairways, bunny-hopping large curbs, and of course the relentless conquest of sandy, salty slush. These things have combined to put my rear wheel a little out of true (nothing I can't adjust myself this weekend), and has caused a lot of gunk to collect in my braking system.

The first order of business was to take care of some brake rubbing issues due to the (lack of) wheel trueness... wheel truth? I don't know the particular verbiage, but the brake was rubbing a bit. To make matters worse, the brake lever was already compressing to the handlebar during hard braking.

While I had the brake system taken half-way apart, I went ahead and hit all the cantilever pivots with FinishLine. Then, I popped the brake cable housings out of their bosses, sliding the cable housing to the other end of the cable, exposing all of the previously covered brake cable. I used my old favorite: waterproof boat-trailer axle grease on a rag to butter the hidden parts of the cables up. They were slightly oxidized, and this treatment brought back a dark luster to the strands. I left some excess on them and slid the cable housing back into location, then moved to the rear cable housing including the metal "Noodle" that's found on most side-pull cantilevers. I gave this segment of cable the same treatment.

Upon re-assembly, I completely re-aligned the rear brake pads, then re-seated the brake cable so that it's adjusted properly with my brake lever's barrel adjuster screwed almost completely back into the lever. This morning, I was rewarded with some amazingly smooth, strong brakes.

The midwestern winter can be really, really hard on a bicycle. When this season is over, I'm likely going to have to haul my bike to the shop and have them give it a complete and thorough tune-up. I can fix pretty much anything on a bike, but I lack the intimate familiarity with the small details that a professional wrench has acquired. I can't get perfection adjusting of a front derailleur or get wheels perfectly true when they've been taco'd. Judging from what I saw last night, my bike is probably ready for all-new brake cable housings. The shifter housings look okay, but I'll probably just have the LBS re-do all of my cables at the end of winter. With it, all new brake pads, both wheels trued, and a shifter adjustment should make my bouncy Goat like new once again, ready to hit the singletrack.

Last night, I grabbed some lunch after work, then did the A Bus Short Route. This morning, it was the humdrum workbound L-Bus with a coffee run. Aside from the usual bouncing around and "special stages" that I improvise en-route, there's not much worth mentioning. The forecast is calling for snow sometime today, and I'm really hoping to be able to ride in it for my homeward commute. If the conditions are favorable, I think I'll get off the bus further from home and take the Turkey Creek route.

Random Tunage:
Altitude - Excession
Energy 52 - Cafe Del Mar (Nalin & Kane Remix)


Chuong Doan said...

So you got me to HTFU and I've started my commuting really early this year. What are you doing for rain pants? I still haven't decided if its worth it to order some expensive pants, or try to find something at Target for cheap.

Noah said...

For the time being, nothing really. I just get wet and cold. My windbreaker keeps my core dry. My legs, I don't have any waterproof cover for. There are scads of options from paltry to prime. Target might not be a bad place to start, but just plain old rain pants will likely get torn up in a hurry in the rear and crotch area.

Jon said...

I use ripstop BDUs, $20.00 from the Army Surplus store. They are pretty water resistant (I stay fairly dry in snow), but would benefit from a coating of Scotchgard, or something similar, if you want to stay dry in a downpour.

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