Here is a bike riding update for you. I’m still out there riding my usual route to get some exercise and fresh air but my bike could use a little repair these days. My bike is ten years old this year and that’s ten years of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter riding. The nice sunny Summer days are easy on the bike but the cold and wet ones are tough on the bike. Winter road grime gets everywhere.

I repair my own bike and am good at keeping it in riding shape. Just recently I had some chain slippage and knew I had to check my gear cassette. Chain slippage happen when either the chain gets worn out and stretched or the gears get worn down to points instead of being flat on top. Chain slippage is really not fun. It happens when you’re pedaling, especially when pedaling hard, and the chain suddenly slips forward a few inches. The chain isn’t catching on the rear gear cassette properly.

I think this is the third gear cassette I’ve bought for this bike. The original one and then three others. It’s easy enough for me to put on. It takes a couple of special tools and some effort but it’s not hard to do. It’s the adjustments afterwards that get tricky. The rear derailleur is what needs to be adjusted. That’s the part of the bike that moves the chain from gear to gear when you shift the gearshift lever.

My rear derailleur has seen better days. Its gears are wearing down and so are its setting screws. Those are the two little screws on it that adjust how far up or down the derailleur can go. The road grime has gotten to them and they’re worn down and tough to turn. I wish I could just replace those little screws but I can’t find them. Oh, well.

After I adjusted my rear derailleur my bike was working fine except I was getting some chain rub on the front derailleur of all things. I didn’t even touch that one. Chain rub is when the chain is rubbing against the metal side piece of the derailleur. That shouldn’t happen and makes for a rougher ride. I set out to adjust it but couldn’t get it to stop. I went to look on the internet to see if it had any answers. It did.

It turns out that there is a tension knob on the derailleur cable that’s used to stop chain rub. Somehow in ten years I never knew this and never really paid attention to the knob. The way cables work on a bike is that they attach on one end to the gearshift lever/brakes on the handle bars, get run along the frame where they pass though mounted holes that keep them in place, and attach at the other end to a derailleur or brake as the case may be. One of these mounted holes on the frame has a small half inch plastic knob attached to it. This is the cable tension knob.

Ideally that knob moves the whole derailleur over fractions of an inch to get rid of chain rub. Turn the knob two turns to the left and the derailleur moves over an eighth of an inch and it doesn’t rub on the side of the derailleur guide piece. Unfortunately ten years of riding have frozen that knob in place.

The knob itself is plastic. It also has a spring in it so you have to pull up on the knob and then turn it. The bolt that’s in the threaded hole is metal. So I pulled on the plastic knob, tried to turn it, but it did nothing. The metal is rusted in place. I tried using WD40 to lubricate the metal but that didn’t help.

I could also feel the plastic knob start to crumble a bit under the pressure. I decided to get the pliers out and try to use them on the knob. I figured I might as well try that before the knob crumbled entirely. It didn’t work. The knob kept crumbling and nothing turned. So then I crumbled the knob off on purpose to try and turn the metal bolt part itself. Then the metal started to crumble too. I admitted defeat and walked away.

Now I have to track down a new cable tension knob and bolt. I found something similar on the internet but still haven’t ordered it yet. The bike is still working fine and is ridable with a little bit of chain rub so I fear I’ll mess it up more if I try to replace the bolt. That thing is rusted in and I’m not even sure if I could get it out. I may make things worse rather than make things better.

The rest of the bike is okay though. The chain slippage is gone and that’s the most important thing. A bike is unrideable if there is chain slippage. I also patched a bunch of tire tubes. I’m always getting flat tires so it’s no surprise that I have to patch tubes but I somehow let them build up. I got a flat one day and when I got home to patch the punctured tube I noticed I had two more punctured tubes that I never fixed.

One of the tubes had a new hole right next to a patch and the second tube already had four patches on it. I imagine that I was frustrated with the tubes when they went flat and didn’t want to bother to fix them since they had both been fixed before. But now, months later, I wasn’t frustrated with them any more so I figured I’d patch them. I was patching one anyway so why not three? It all went okay. I must have been worried about putting one patch so close to another on that one tube but it held up just fine. And that five patch one did too. Maybe that’s one too many patches but we’ll see. It’s all fine for now.