Alright. For the first time in nearly a month my bicycle is in good repair. After replacing my back rim a little while ago I’ve had a series of troubles with the thing that I’ve finally straightened out. At least for now. I don’t think this bike I have is a rugged as the last one I rode. Though I had to make repairs over the twenty years I rode my last bike I’ve had more problems in the last four years with the new one. They don’t make them like they used to. At least not for a price I could afford. Or maybe I’ve ridden it more in worse weather. Any way you slice it I still had troubles.

The first problem I had was my chain slipping. I’ve had some rear derailleur problems before that caused a little slipping but this was different. First off it only happened when I was bearing down on the pedals. Bearing down hard. Of course that’s the worst time for the chain to slip. It makes you feel like you’re going to fall off the bike. And who knows you just might. So that made me clean out the gears, clean up the derailleur, and clean out the chain. I adjusted everything on the back wheel from the gears to the axel. Nothing helped.

I finally decided to take off the gear cassette and give that a good going over. That’s when I discovered that I wore one ring of gears down to nearly nothing. Each ring of gears is made up of individual eighth of an inch wide gear spokes. One ring of gear spokes (the one I use most) was worn down to a point. Instead of an eighth of an inch of metal to grab the chain there was about a thirty second of an inch. No wonder things were slipping. I ordered a new gear cassette for the tire.

When ordering the gears I also ordered a crank remover. That’s another little specialized tool that is used for removing the crank that the pedals are attached to. My cranks started making a clicking sound as they have before. Since I couldn’t get them to stop I figured I’d take them off and try to see what was going wrong. When I got the crank remover I took off the cranks only to discover that I needed yet another tool to remove the bottom bracket (axel) that the cranks attacked to. I remember when I could take my whole bike apart with a normal set of wrenches. That was a long time ago.

Back I went to the internet and ordered the bottom bracket remover. Meanwhile I was still riding my bike. The gears were no longer slipping since I got the new gear cassette but that crank was making noise every time the pedaling got hard. It was really annoying and didn’t make me have a lot of trust in my bike. And then more trouble. Flat tires. Not just one but three in a row.

The flat tires were odd. After two flat tires in a single day I suspected a problem. Both flats came in different places on the tube but both were on the inside of the tube rather than the outside of the tube that is closest to the road. If the road wasn’t causing the flats than the rim must be. I looked at the rim tape that’s supposed to protect the tube from the rim and it looked to be failing. I tried repairing the rim tape with electrical tape (since I had no new rim tape) but that lead to the third flat the next day. Back to the internet I went to order rim tape.

When I got the rim tape I put it on and checked it out after it was placed as per the instructions. I went for a ride and didn’t get a flat. I was, of course, happy with that but then the next morning as I was getting ready to ride I saw my tire was yet again without air. At least I progressed to a slow leak. I replaced the tube and this time made extra sure that the rim tape was seated properly. As this was the only time in all my years of bike riding that I’ve had rim tape problems I was really hoping this would fix it. Luckily for me it did but I still don’t quite trust it yet.

Meanwhile my new bottom bracket remover had finally arrived. I had read on the internet that the noise from my crank probably meant that something was loose but it took a lot of force to get the cranks and bottom bracket off so I’m not sure how true that could be in my case. I didn’t see anything wrong but I cleaned things up where the bottom bracket seats. I bought some waterproof bike grease in case I had to lubricate the bottom bracket but it turns out that the thing is completely enclosed so I couldn’t grease anything in there. For some reason the screws that hold the cranks on were greased so I added some to them. After everything was back together the cranks were quiet again. It was a nice quiet. I still have no idea what was making the noise but it has stopped.

It ended up being three separate problems happening all at once. I don’t think that’s ever happened to any of my bikes before. I’ve also never seen a gear worn down like happened to mine. I rode on my old one for a decade with no problem. I guess the metal is not as strong in this one. I uses mainly the one gear in the back so it makes sense that it should wear down eventually but this seemed a bit soon.

I guess I should have gotten new rim tape when I got a new rim instead of using the old rim tape but it worked fine for a good month or so. Plus I’ve never had any rim tape problems so I didn’t know they could happen at the drop of a hat. I never even thought about rim tape before. Live and learn.

The crank problem was fairly familiar. I’ve had similar troubles with this bike that have come and gone over the past year and those seem to be related to riding in wet weather. At least now I have all the tools to deal with it. I’ve almost started trusting my bike to run right again. It’s a bit like coming off of a sports injury such as a sprained ankle. Even when the ankle gets better it takes a little while to trust that it can hold you up under the strain of running. In the end I’d rather it was my bike that I didn’t trust than my ankle. Bad ankles can really hurt.