Thursday, May 03, 2012

Derailleur Maintenance

I hate wrenching on my own bicycle.  Inevitably I will do something wrong and will usually have to take the bike in for professional servicing.  I have had success in very few areas.  I can change a tire.  I can clean the bike.  I can tighten loose bolts.  I can install a computer.  I have attempted to true a wheel, adjust a derailleur, and adjust a brake.  One time I even tried to build a front end.  I have never fooled around with cranks, cassettes, headsets, etc.

Recently the shifting on my bicycle has been off.  I assumed the derailleur cable was just loose, but at the same time, it had been about a year since I had it built up and decided to just get a tune-up.  As it turned out Bicycle Village was backed up 3 weeks for tune-ups and would not even look at it.  I started with Bicycle Village as they built up the 10 speed drive train that is on the bike.  I went over to Performance bike and the mechanic also said that they were backed up 3 weeks for tune-ups but could take a quick look if something was really bothering me.

I told him the rear derailleur definitely needed to be adjusted.  He said it may be a simple barrel adjustment and through it up on the stand right away.  He then started asking me who installed the cassette.  I told him Bicycle Village had and he replied that the spacer is missing and the cassette is loose.  He put the spacer on and then fiddled a little more and finally said it works, but the cable should be replaced.  This work they could squeeze in.

I picked my bike up the next day and he said that not only had the spacer been missing, but the chain was on backwards.  Apparently Shimano 10 speed chains have a sidedness to them.  He also recommended replacing the front and rear derailleur from 9 speed to 10 speed as I would see some improvement in shifting.  Mostly on the front derailleur that was redesigned for a narrower chain.  I did not make the $150 investment, but probably will down the road.

This experience served as a painful reminder that I really need to learn to work on my bicycle.  If I don’t know how an assembly should operate, I am really at the mercy of mechanics at varying skill level.  I should have noticed the cassette wobbling.  I should have noticed a backwards chain.  I should be able to hand test a cable to see how loose or tight it is and at minimum make barrel adjustments.

I would also like to thank Performance Bike for taking the time to squeeze me in and explaining the work that was done. 

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