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Getting those "winter" bike maintenance projects crossed off the To-Do-List

Posted Apr 23 2011 11:11am
Surly LHT finally getting some TLC
I had a long list of winter bike maintenance projects to get done. Now that it's Spring I figured I better get going on them. Ten years ago when I got back into cycling I had very little experience working on bicycles. I wanted to learn how to do my own work so I didn't have to depend on a bicycle shop every time I needed something done. Since then I've learned how to do most of my own maintenance. Also, ten years ago I had very few bicycle tools. I've accumulated most tools I need over the years by buying a few each year.

Now I get a lot of satisfaction out of doing my own work. However, I haven't grown to enjoy it more. I tend to procrastinate on most repairs and always seem to have at least two bikes that need some kind of work. But it is nice to be able to do it myself.

The Long Haul Trucker saw a good deal of commuting last year. I tended to switch back and forth between the fixed wheel Cross Check, the Xtracycle, and my LHT for all of my Spring, Summer and Fall commuting. At the end of the Fall season the LHT saw full time duty for a few weeks while my old Cross Check was getting stripped down and the new Cross Check was getting built up. Those few weeks were quite rainy. Once the snow flew, I only ride the Cross Check in the winter salt and sand. The LHT got put away for the winter without a good cleaning. Today it's getting a good scrubbing and a full drive train degreasing. And anything else that comes up as I'm working on it.

Plastic Shimano BB cup getting replaced.
This bike came with a pretty standard Shimano sealed cartridge bearing BB, the UN54. The non-drive side cup on these BB's is made of plastic. It always seemed a little cheap to me. Although I've never had a problem with the plastic cups failing, I decided to upgrade the cup to an alloy alternative.

New alloy Up-Cup replaces plastic Shimano BB cup on my UN54 BB.
Parts wholesaler, QBP, has a subsidiary called Problem Solvers . They make an alloy replacement cup for the Shimano plastic BB cup called the Up-Cup. You can see I was so excited about this little upgrade I haven't even cleaned the bike yet before installing it. I'm sure it will make zero difference in the performance of my BB, but I somehow feel better knowing that now this cup is alloy instead of plastic.

With no plans to purchase any new bicycles this year, I've decided to concentrate my bicycling funds on a few upgrades on the LHT. Upgrades I have had planned all along, but were pushed down on the list because of other bike projects.

The first upgrade happened a few months ago. Back in October, when I was buying parts for my newest Cross Check, I placed an order from Velo ORANGE for some fenders . I added to that order a new Grand Cru headset for the LHT. My LHT came with an FSA Orbit headset. It has ball bearings in the top and needle bearings in the bottom. I had a chronic problem with the needle bearings. It would only take one or two rides in the rain to wash all the grease out of the needle bearings and then they'd go dry. No matter how I monkeyed with that headset and the rubber o-ring seal, I could not keep water out of the needle bearings. I finally gave up on it and bought the VO Grand Cru headset with sealed cartridge bearings. I took the LHT into my LBS to have the headsets swapped when their business was really slow in February. I'm very happy with this swap.

Other upcoming upgrades will be new brakes to replace the barely functional Tektro Oryx cantilever brakes. These brakes "look" like brakes, but have very little ability to actually bring a loaded touring bike to a complete stop on a downhill. I think these brakes are impostors only posing as brakes. I have thought about putting V-brakes on for more stopping power. But the LHT has a nice braze-on cable hanger on the back that wouldn't get used with the V-brake. That would kind of bug me. I have Paul Component Engineering Touring Canti's on my Cross Check. I'm very pleased how superior they are to any other canti brake I've used. So sometime this summer I'll be springing for a pair for the LHT.

The only other upgrade I'm planning is replacing my one arm kickstand on this bike with a two arm Pletscher kickstand .

Okay, back to work. I hope to get out on a ride this afternoon. We had rain overnight, but things are drying out nicely.

While working on the bike I've been keeping a watch out for Trans-Iowa 7 audio updates on my iPod Touch. It started this morning at 4 am. There is a strong contingent of riders from Duluth I'm following as well as Jim Thill. Jim is the co-owner of my favorite bike shop, Hiawatha Cyclery , located in Minneapolis. He is riding this year's edition of Trans-Iowa.
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