Post 200km brevet bike repairs

Brokey bike: Bent fork

I was talking to one of the bike shop guys, while still bruised up from my fall, and he told me how shocked he was about all of the cycling injuries and their beat up bikes he’d seen. I told him “Yeah, but imagine if you were working at an auto repair shop.”

“Yeah,” he replied, “but cars have all the protection around you.”

“True,” I replied, “but if you worked in auto repair, you’ll get to repair cars with bikes smashed on the hood, while here you don’t have to repair bikes with cars smashed on the hood.”

I finished the ride with a bike that was clearly not operational. The big symptom is that I couldn’t really move the handlebars, so I figured that either the fork was broken or the headset bearings were messed up. So I took it into the bike shop I got it from.

The entire shop staff was browsing my bike’s damage. See, it’s January still, which means that nobody is interested in buying a bike. And there’s only so much that you can do to amuse yourself at a bike shop in ways that won’t get you in trouble with the manager or look unprofessional in front of the customers.

The first opinion was that the bike was totaled. I didn’t like that answer. See, it was clear that the fork was bent out of shape. But they were worried that the head tube was also damaged in the impact. The front derailleur looked a little ugly, but it was mostly just banged out of alignment (besides, front derailleurs are cheap to replace) So eventually, they agreed to take the broken fork off of the bike and see what the real situation was. I wandered the store wondering what they’d tell me and, depending on that, what I was going to do about having a bicycle to ride.

Brokey bike with new fork

So, they took the fork off and decided to shove another fork from the junkyard up in there and see what happens (yes I did say “That’s what SHE said”). And then we all took a look down the headtube and nobody could see anything. No bulging. No cracks. Nothing.

So, the rest of the bike was OK, just the fork steerer tube was bent a few degrees back. This doesn’t bother me too much. Clearly it was quite an impact and suspension forks don’t last forever. Besides, it’s a cheap SR Suntour fork aimed at giving low-end mountain bikes a feature to check off. While it smooths out the trail, it’s nothing special and doesn’t have lockout. They showed me a similarly inexpensive fork, but I pointed out that I might as well go for a mild upgrade while I’m at it.

Thus, the new fork is a RockShox Tora 318, with a lever on the crown for lockout. It’s a little bit lighter and it still has the mounts for the V-brakes that I use. They had a few on display. The cheapest one was red. I decided that I’ve got enough of an obsessive-compulsive nature that it really needed to have a vague color match, so I told them to put the white fork of the same model that was listed as being more expensive… except when they rang it up, it turned out to be cheaper.

Brokey bike: Rear wheel

Now, when they had it up, I also noticed that the rear rim was cracked. They were all set to sell me a Performance machine-built rear wheel so they’d have me out the door in a fully functional bike. Except that the stock machine-built wheels it came with broke in fairly short order back when I was 30 lbs heavier. So I explained that the rear wheel had been replaced already and that it was a 36 spoke hand-built wheel. And I also like that I’ve got a roller-clutch hub that doesn’t go clicky-clicky-clicky when I coast. They didn’t seem too interested in selling me wheelbuilding services either.

Now, Jobst Brandt’s book, The Bicycle Wheel, which is well researched in ways that cough the rest of the stuff written about bike wheels hasn’t been, discusses this problem. When the rim fails without actually kinking the spokes, you can set the new rim atop the old rim and move the spokes over, one by one, and then re-tension and re-true. The crack in the rim de-tensioned the spokes, so they should be fine. He also pointed out that most wheelbuilders don’t want to do that… which is true.

I also found, as usual, that a wheel built to my demands needs to be hand-built. And apparently everybody is sold out of many of the required components to built it to my specifications and I might be bikeless for several weeks. Thus, I started hunting down for something that would get to me relatively expediently such that I’d be all healed up by the time it showed up but was fairly close to my requirements.

Brokey bike: Rack mounts

The cheapest price on roughly comparable wheels was JensonUSA, who had a set of Rhyno Lite rims on Deore hubs, except in 32 spoke form. So I’m ending up with a spare rear wheel that just needs a new rim and a spare front wheel. And both the front and rear wheel are a little less sturdy than I’d like because they’ve got disc hubs and 32 spokes.

While moving all of the still working parts over, I realized that the rim wasn’t cracked. See, it’s still toast because the bead buckled, but what really happened was that it impacted at just the right spot such that it unloaded over the seam… and it’s not a welded rim, just a pinned rim. So it looked like a damn good crack, but had it happened at any other point of revolution, it would have just been a deformed rim.

Finally, a few bits and pieces went missing. My under-saddle bag broke off and somehow got lost in the shuffle. My rear rack mounting bracket is a little bent, and I’m not sure what the best thing to do about it is.