February 23, 2009

The brake is broke…

Over the last month or so, at least when it hasn’t been snowing, the roads have been very dirty and my bike has been getting pretty filthy. Apart from looking bad, the dirt has been affecting the mechanics too. At first, it was just the front derailleur that suffered. It frequently gets stuck on the middle ring and refuses to change properly to either small or large ring. Fortunately that’s not a huge problem. Worse, though, are the brakes. Dirt has got into the pivots, making them stiff and eventually meaning that they don’t release properly. That is more of a problem. I’ve managed for a while by loosening things a little and running 3-in-1 oil through the pivots to both flush out the muck and lubricate. But this weekend I decided to strip them and clean them properly. Something I’ve not done before…

I started on the rear brake, since I hardly ever use it so it didn’t matter too much if it went wrong. It didn’t. It all came off quickly and easily. The mechanism is quite simple with no little springs or other parts to drop and lose. I sprayed all the parts with Muc-Off, scrubbed with a toothbrush, washed & dried, lubricated the pivots and put it all back. It worked beautifully. Good as new. So, after successfully servicing the rear calliper, the front would be easy, right? Wrong…

Actually, it was almost easy. Everything went as smoothly with the front calliper as with the rear, apart from one thing. The adjuster had seized. I could have lived with that by just re-clamping the cable occasionally to take up the slack as the pads wear. But I wanted it working properly. So I attempted to free it up, eventually resorting to a bit of brute force. Too much brute force it seems, as the top part of the adjuster simply sheered off leaving the rest still screwed into the calliper arm. I tried everything to get it out, including a drill, all to no avail. I couldn’t even swap front and rear callipers, leaving the broken one on the back where I’d never use it, because they aren’t interchangeable.

Right now I have the calliper back on the bike, where it works but obviously isn’t ideal. And this morning I’ve ordered a replacement. That’s turned into a bit of an upgrade – couldn’t resist the Shimano 105 at £30-odd, pictured above. Hopefully it will arrive soon (tomorrow if Wiggle are on form) and I’ll get my bike back in proper working order again…

I’ve ordered some cables too and might re-do some of the cable runs. Or might not, just in case something else goes wrong:-)

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