It’s a little early for spring cleaning, but I’m going to do a little anyway – RBR inbox cleaning, that is. A few items came in that I think will interest you, including a pesky winter-oriented noise, a nifty custom touch for your bicycle and an epic summer century my club puts on for a great cause, plus something fun for this weekend.
Windy City bike swap
Let’s start with the fun event that’s taking place in Chicago this Sunday, January 31, at Harper College. It’s the 9th Annual Chicago Winter Bike Swap – where I’d be if I lived close enough. Chicago is a famous bicycle town since the 1880s, and there’ll be vendors selling from as far away as New York. They’ll have a Bike Corral with new and used complete bicycles at discount prices and contests to win free stuff.
The entry fee is only $5, parking is free and kids under 12 get in free, too. It’s a great way to shop for close-outs on 2015 inventory and pick up a new ride or used one on the cheap. www.chicagowinterbikeswap.com
Tony’s mystery creak
One of the most popular pages on my personal bicycle website is an encyclopedic resource for finding and fixing those annoying bicycle noises: http://jimlangley.net/wrench/keepitquiet.html. It’s always growing because readers send me weird and wonderful noises they figured out, for me to add.
Last week I got a great one from my buddy and pro mechanic Anthony Alsberg from here in Santa Cruz, California. He wrote, “With the cold and wet weather, I switched from road shoes and pedals to my winter SPD setup. The shoes are warmer and more waterproof than my road gear. But right away, my bike started creaking. Sounded like a loose pedal or crankarm. It would go away when I stopped pedaling. I tightened all the usual suspects – pedals, crankarm and chainring bolts. No help.
“So, I started looking at the seat. I greased the seat rails, seatpost, seatpost shim and any related bolts, but it still creaked. I even removed the seatpost shim and inserted another, larger seatpost I had hanging around. No help again. I overhauled the bottom bracket, but I knew that wouldn’t fix it. I thought it might be my shoes, but they were pretty new, so I just oiled the cleats and tightened the bolts a little. That helped for about half the next ride, but then the creak returned.
“Next, I tried riding with another (older) pair of SPD shoes to see if that would do it – and the creak stopped. So, I decided to lubricate the SPD style cleat plates where they touch inside the shoe recesses. While I was tightening the bolt after lubing the plates, the bolt threads broke off. I didn’t see any easy way to replace it, but I did notice that I could spin the plate around under the cork sole of the shoe in order to reattach the cleat using the second set of lower bolt holes. It worked! No more creaking bike! The creaking sound was from the cracked (raised) threaded piece on the cleat plate that was ready to break away.”
Good one, Tony. Thanks for sharing!
Add a little art to your bike
Most modern road bikes have easily replaced stem caps (the little cap on top of your stem with the allen bolt in the middle). Now, you can add a custom touch to your bike – and right where it’s most noticeable (like a Rolls Royce hood ornament), with Bikelangelo’s $14.99 stem caps.
So far, they offer 46 different designs, with new ones rolling out on a regular basis. I’m partial to their Lion of Flanders. They’re all made of 6061 aluminum, fit 1 ⅛-inch threadless headsets and include a black stainless-steel bolt. http://www.bikelangelo.com/
A great ride for a great cause
My last item is a plug for my cycling club’s major event every year, the Santa Cruz County Cycling Club’s Mountain Challenge, which takes place on July 30. That gives you five months to prepare, which you’ll probably need if you do the full 135-mile course, which packs a wallop with 13,000 feet of climbing. There’s also a 101-mile, 10,000 foot loop and a 75- and 45-miler.
Unlike the much larger, expensive and more famous Death Ride, with thousands of riders, the Mountain Challenge is a low-key, affordable affair without the crowds. You won’t experience the elevations of the Death Ride’s Sierra Nevada range, but Santa Cruz’s climbs are renowned for their steepness and scenery and have attracted pro riders who come here for pre-season training going back to LeMond and beyond.
Also, the ride is a fundraiser and every year donates to all kinds of bicycle-specific school programs throughout Santa Cruz County. This year, there are optional side events to raise more money, including an evening cruise on the Chardonnay yacht. You can even stay on the gorgeous University of California at Santa Cruz campus where the ride starts. For more information and to register: Santa Cruz Mountains Challenge.
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.