I had a bike maintenance disaster this morning. Brett went one better this afternoon.
I woke up late, leaving myself about an hour to replace the drivetrain on the Cove before Owen arrived to go out for a ride. Not to worry – it’s only a chainring, cog and chain. Easy peasy, except for one small problem. One of the bolts holding the chainring in place point blank refused to budge. I got the new cog on the back, the new chain went on fine, but that chainring bolt didn’t want to know. In the end I gave up, left the old chainring on and we went out anyway.
Now, considering Owen hasn’t ridden his bike in about six months and professes to have done sod all exercise in the meantime, he showed few signs of the blatant unfitness he was claiming. Sure he was slow, but there was no sign of the nearly throwing up that we saw last time. I guess it was the promise of candy shrimps as a reward for getting to the top – that and not wanting to be shown up too much by some mentalist on a singlespeed… ahem. We got fantastic sunshine without it ever getting too hot, which always seems to make the singletrack flow that much better. A good ride all round I think.
We got back and I cleaned my bike for the first time in weeks. Simoniz Back-to-Black does really a fantastic job of making your bike shiny again doesn’t it? I’d noticed a bit of play in my rear hub while having my nightmare earlier on and also wanted to change the oil in my forks. The final descent on today’s ride finally convinced me that a five inch travel suspension fork is useless if it doesn’t actually use any of that travel.
I stripped the hub down for the first time in years. It’s seen plenty of riding (not to mention jet-washing) in the meantime, but while the grease looked old and used, it was still clean. The bearings were in pretty much perfect condition. Sealing that good is the reason why you spend that little bit extra on a Shimano XT hub instead of a Deore. They work, and as long as you look after them, they’ll continue to work for a long while. Clean out the old grease, put in a load of thick, gloopy new stuff, put it all back together and it’s rock solid again. Lovely. I’m not looking forward to opening the Deore hub on the front though…
After that I changed the oil in the forks – some ageing Marzocchi Z1 Drop-Off’s. They’re really showing their age on the outside, but within the stanchions they appear to be as good as new. Top caps off, springs out, drain the oil away, new oil in, springs in, top caps on. Adjust to suit and you’re sorted again. They’re showing an instant improvement – in that they actually seem to absorb the odd bump now. Bonus!
In the meantime, Brett tried the same thing with his significantly more complex Marzocchi 888R forks. Things didn’t go altogether to plan. Top caps undone, pour old oil out, all fine so far. Try to remove top-caps from damper-rods… ARSE! Brett manages to break the top off of one of the damper rods. He is not a happy bunny.
It’s funny (well, it’s not really), but he seems to be doing everything in his power to ruin his upcoming mountain biking holiday. First he dislocates his shoulder with only three weeks to go. It appears to be healing very well, but then with just two weeks remaining he dislocates his forks internals. One has to ask, what more can go wrong?