Thursday, September 28, 2017

Sorry I'm Late, But I Suck At Bikes

This morning I endeavored to perform some much-needed and long-deferred maintenance on my WorkCycles FR8:


Mainly, the bike needed:

1) New tires;

2) Brake fluid (yes, those are hydraulic rim brake--or, in Craigslist speak, "hydrolic rime breaks").


So with a fistful of tools and a head full of ineptitude, I went to work.

First, I set about replacing the tires.  This is a bit more complicated than it seems, because unlike your standard-issue Fred bike you've got to undo about 90 things on the WorkCycles in order to remove the rear wheel.  (Fenders, chain cases, and internal hubs are delightfully convenient until you've got to liberate the wheel from them.)

Next I moved onto the brakes.  The front was much improved when I got done with it.  The rear was not, and if anything it was worse.  Indeed, nothing I did seemed to restore power to it, and eventually I was forced to give up because I was reaching that dangerous point where I find myself seriously considering ghost-riding the bike down a hill and never looking at it again.

Of course at this juncture any sane person would wheel the bike in to the nearest bike shop, but it just so happens the nearest bike shop isn't particularly near so it makes copping out and outsourcing the job less convenient than it seems.  Plus, I feel that I must see this thing through one way or anthers, and perhaps with some time spent away from the bike and a few YouTube tutorials I'll get the issue sorted out.

As for the brakes, if you're wondering, they're these:

If you have experience with these things feel free to bloviate in the comments below.

"So why hydrolic rime breaks anyway?," you may be wondering.  Well, that's just how the bike was specced, and theoretically a sealed system like this should result in less maintenance for a bike that lives outside in all seasons.  (Cables tend to rust an seize, you know.)  Plus, with all its racks and accessories I suspect the WorkCycles benefits from a braking system that can tolerate sharp angles in cable routing.  And then there's the fact that it's a heavy bike that needs lots of stopping power, though it seems to me that a rime break is a rime break and you can reach maximum stopping power regardless of what's pushing the pad against the rim.  

But what do I know.

I should also disclose that I've been considering "downgrading" to a cable-operated system for some time, and if I can't sort this issue out soon I may very well do just that.  (Sure, cables seize, but replacing them is like a five minute job and it doesn't require tubing and comically oversized hypodermic needles either.)  Rest assured I'll deep you apprised.  And in the meantime will I be hauling my children around town with only one (1) brake?

Probably.


Anyway, the real revelation is that I need a goddamn garage:


(Random image I found on the Internet.  Want credit?  You take a lovely picture.  There's your credit.)

Sure, having a building basement to work in and a storage cage to cram all my bike crap into means I'm more fortunate than like 90% of New Yorkers, but it's times like these when I fantasize about a lavish work area with natural light and enough space to see everything I own at the same time.

This of course then leads me down the path of saying "Fuck it, I'm moving to the country," but it's this mighty metropolis from which our family earns its living, and alas were we to unlatch ourselves from its teat we'd surely shrivel up and waste away in short order.


And how our mayor's a whiny putz who panders to the motoring class:

Hey, guess what, Bill?  You're a public servant, you don't get to resent shit.

And finally, speaking of Bicycling, it looks like its parent company, Rodale, is being bought by Hearst:



The surviving Rodalians are said to be rejoicing that Hearst appears to have beaten Meredith in the bidding war. “Hearst is the only publishing company to actually come to Emmaus [the remote Pennsylvania town Rodale calls home] to try to learn about the corporate culture,” said one source close to the company.

“They spoke with editors and wanted to learn about their process and their vision for their brands . . . Meredith showed up and was only interested in the bottom line. Didn’t speak to a single editor.”

I have no idea what this means for Bicycling, but Hearst was very brave to travel to Emmaus, a place from which few people have ever returned.

50 comments:

Jake said...

Driving to ride is dumb. Taking the train rules tho.

Watch and Camera Guy said...

Podium!

Swift Steve said...

Podium!

Snobby,

I'm just curious as to how one deals with flats if they have a bike like yours where removing the rear wheel is a total pain in the ass. I'm a commuter who gets plenty of flats and I've always wondered how folks in your predicament fix them.

The whole rear wheel removal problem is one of the main reasons I've never taken the plunge and gone with an internal gear hub. I run a derailleur on my rear wheel with friction shifters as it gets the job done and needs minimal maintenance.

-Swift Steve

Anonymous said...

Woo-hoo! Podium!!!

Anonymous said...

podiating.

Anonymous said...

THat guy didn't claim it so I'm first - suck it.

Anonymous said...

Woo-Hoo! Podium!!!

Anonymous said...

Yahtzee!

BikeSnobNYC said...

Swift Steve,

If you're in a hurry can remove one bead of the tire, pull out the tube, and patch.

--Wildcat Etc.

Freddy Murcks said...

Who the fuck is Meredith?

Bryan Bracy said...

I beat Meredith...

Pathetic Old Cyclist said...

That basement bike shop is the sign of a sure anal retentive. I bet that guy never had an ounce of fun, ever.

Serial Retrogrouch said...

...Swift Steve, an internally geared hub is second only to a single speed bike when it comes to low maintenance in urban spaces like NYC where you only need a couple of gears. Mine is a Sturmey Archer old school hub. It's no more complicated to remove the rear wheel than a derailleured bike. I think what makes it complicated for Snob are the hidroolic rime breaks and fender removal.

...Snob, just chuck the rime breaks, man... steel (cable) is real.

82medici said...

i would like for my shop to look like that, although it never does. I still have fun.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Serial Retrogrouch,

Yes, the hub itself is very simple. It's the chain case and other stuff around it that takes time.

--Wildcat Etc.

Anonymous said...

i equate internal hubs with the IRS. very mysterious.

Hee Haw the barista said...

HYDR OLIC

Anonymous said...

So late to post and then I read the entire piece and now look where I placed.

Always la lanterne rouge!

N/A said...

Hubs on bike wheels are so old-fashioned and too damn heavy for the fredliest of Freds. Zipps are going hubless next year.

Anonymous said...

I had a similar problem with my hydrolic dick brakes where the hose dipped low in the middle. I theorized the dip was trapping an air bubble. I removed the lever and hose from the frame (with the caliper still on the bike) and raised the whole contraption above the caliper and tapped it to get the bubbles out. Then bled per instructions and it was fixed.

1904 Cadardi said...

If those hidrolic rime breaks are anything like the disk breaks I've worked on, the solution is to bleed them, bleed them again, possibly screw on a syringe to pull a vacuum, then bleed them. Repeat as necessary. Also, bleed them one more time and then repeat.

A coworker that had Magura hydraulic rim brakes (probably no relation to what's on the flotilla) said the best way he found was to open the port on the lever and push fluid from a syringe attached to the caliper till it came out bubble free.

Mike in Dallas said...

WCRM, the bubbles in the hydraulic fluid is the problem, as previous comments said. This is because the brakes work by a CONTINUOUS pressure from the lever to the brake arms via the continuous line of fluid because all fluid is incompressible (when pressure is applied to fluid, the whole body of fluid is raised to the same pressure). With air anywhere in the system, the air just compresses instead of the fluid pressure being raised, and the brake arms don't get the pressure transfer from the brake lever. It's like trying to get water out of a faucet when there's a break in the plumbing to the faucet somewhere; the water pressure never makes it to faucet. Bleed the air out...

BikeSnobNYC said...

Mike in Dallas,

I understand the concept (though I like how you explain it) and have bled brakes before, I just don't see how could still air in the system here after bleeding repeatedly. (Clearly I'm screwing up somewhere, just don't know where.)

--Wildcat Etc.

Schisthead said...

The trick with the crappy discs I have is to hang it up.
If you hang it upside down for a while so the air is all in the caliper it should be easier to get a good bleed--if you can still work on it in such a position.

Good luck, hope you don't need it.

wle said...

cable == so much easy-er

Anonymous said...

Rapha!

Fourhourerection said...

Flats must be a super pain in the butt on a Workcycle. I've used the Mister Tuffy liners for years. Maybe I'm lucky, but I work in an industrial area and had flats every freaking day until the old coot at the LBS told me to quit crying and use liners. I think his name was Heysoos.

MrLobstermash said...

I thought travelling to Emmaus was a way to meet the Messiah... What a let down to find a bunch of tyre pressure weenies...

ken e. said...

re: 80's style disc breaks, did you creep the pad assemblies back into their recesses before filling/bleeding, etc.?
back on the hind quarter of the dachshund of time, i had some kind of floating disc thingy, and the rotor was cast! you can imagine how long that lasted...

Dooth said...

Oh my, all this bleeding...let's keep it clean, people.

leroy said...

Wait, what... few have returned from Emmaus?

My dog and I will be there this weekend.

I'm not letting him hold the car keys though.

(Of course we're driving to the ride. All the private jets have been chartered by cabinet officials.)

DR said...

My FR8 came with cable roller brakes. Supposedly they are low maintenance because God help me if I’m ever in the position to work on them. The rear triangle on my FR8 has series of bolts called the “escape hatch” which, allegedly facilitates rear wheel removal. Snob, maybe you have an older model? I’ve been meaning to dig around on YouTube to see how to work on this beast, but in all honesty, I’m never more than a couple miles from the place I bought it and that’s where she’ll return should I run into any issues.

Wreck Beach Wrench said...

Back in the day, I use to tinker on The Great Babs of Yore's Electra Amsterdam. Faced with the prospect of fixing a rear flat on that thing was always a Herculean task. One would think that anything Babs related would be easy to get off, but that was so not the case with that bitch of a Dutch bike. The brake cable had to be detached. The gear shifter cable (on a spring tensioned assembly) had to be fought with. The rear fender mount bolts had to be removed. The rear rack lower mounts had to be freed. The lower fasteners for the skirt guards had to be removed, so as to access the screws to enable the removal of the rear portion of the enclosed chain guard. The whole thing was filthy with grime, as with the enclosed chainguard, it was impossible to keep clean. Needless to say, I'm thankful she always used Mr Tuffy liners. (Keep yer minds out of the gutter, if you please)

Fourhourerection said...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meredith_Corporation

BikeSnobNYC said...

DR,

I have the escape hatch (it's off in the above photo) but even with that removed I don't see how I'd be able to remove and replace the tire and tube without removing the wheel. With roller brakes yes, but not with rim brakes.

Though I could easily be missing something incredibly obvious, because I'm good at that.

--Wildcat Etc.

Some guy from upstate said...

Wow, you're up late. Don't you have many small children?

Anyway, I enjoyed the detour through Sheldon Brown land. The discussion about which lever should control which brake made me reminisce about the time Mark took my Kona for a spin. As a motorcyclist, I have all my bikes set up moto-style (except for the old Raleigh 3-speed, the brakes on that are too shitty for it to make a difference). Mark thought he would do a cool rear-wheel skid. It did not end well.

Good luck getting your fancy brakes sorted.

sunfish said...

I'm conflicted about the change in ownership of Bicycling magazine. As a former Hearst employee of many years I couldn't wait to retire from their horrendous corporate culture. On the other hand maybe Bicycling deserves it.

Adam Driscoll said...

Snob,

I've worked on a Workscycles Kr8, and that exact Magura HS11 brake, and the exact same problem. Those things are an absolute pain in the scranus, and repeatedly fail after having been bled properly (the lever goes spongy again). After having sent them back to the manufacturer for a pressure test, they declared it working, so I refitted it. And it didn't work. So I fitted a brand new system, which did work. For a couple of months.

I've bled lots of different dick breaks, never had an issue that couldn't be solved by bleeding a second time. Having said that, the hose on a rear brake on a Workcycles is super long, so loads of room for bubbles, although I'm assured by magura it's never holding more than 30cc's of fluid.

Try some cable breaks, even a roller hub brake, you'll have a working bike at least

I'm not a robot said...

"Rest assured I'll deep you apprised"??? .. it's getting harder and harder to decide if these are real typos creeping into your work or just more cutesy deliberate misspelling that we all love so much, but being of a generous disposition I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. I don't really care, but just saying. You're welcome.

JLRB said...

I suck at hydraulic brake bleeding. One job I will delegate to the pros.

TOOB LESS said...

DIY tubeless that rear wheel and tire. Split 20" tube method is ugly but works. Fancy tape method is good but requires patience.

bad boy of the south said...

Well,I bikey rode in DC on Wednesday whilst on my journey back to NY. riding the bike lane in the center of Pennsylvania Ave was a highlight for me. The rest of it, pedestrians of all sorts and typical DC traffic..meh.

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

My hydraulic brake experience is all automotive. Having said that, hydraulic brake fluid is hydroscopic, it attracts water. Water in your car's brake fluid can turn to steam when the brakes get really hot and then your foot can go to the floor when you hit the brakes and you have no brakes. That's not happening here, but the other thing water can do is corrode the smooth bores and seals in the internal workings of the master cylinder (brake lever) and the brake. Usually that would manifest itself with signs of leaking brake fluid, but not always. You could have a fully bled system but the brake lever just isn't moving any fluid due to internal corrosion of your system. You do leave the bike parked outside.

Or maybe when your bike got stolen last year the brake housing got nicked somewhere. It isn't leaking, but is weakened just enough to expand there instead of making the brake work.

Good luck in finding out what's wrong, please let us know!

BikeSnobNYC said...

TOOB LESS,

Not a fan of tubeless in this application. I'd rather deal with the occasional puncture than deal with sealant, etc. And replacing a tire is way more straightforward with tubes.

--Wildcat Etc.

Some guy from upstate said...

Lt. Oblivious gave me a thought (irony, I think). Different bike brakes use different kinds of fluid. Some (like Hayes) use car brake fluid. Some (like Shimano) use mineral oil, because fluid that absorbs water is not needed, because the brakes getting hot enough to make steam is not an issue for bikes. All of the seals will only stay happy if the right brake fluid is used. So make sure you are using the right fluid. If you didn't, you may be fucked (in a bad way).

Car brakes are so much easier to bleed because cars are always the right way up (if not, you have bigger problems than air bubbles in your brake lines) so you can have a reservoir with an air space at the top. The reservoir on a bike is a rubber bladder that needs to be completely full of fluid so air does not get into the brake lines if you turn the bike upside down. On top of that the bladder has to be tiny and not optimally placed so it is not in the way. So instead of just pouring fluid into the reservoir and sucking it out at the brakes until no bubbles come out, you have to go through all kinds of crazy gyrations of basically attaching a couple of remote reservoirs to your brake system and hoping no air gets in through the temporary connections while you struggle to make air bubbles go downhill in the (inevitable, especially on a bike with step through frame) parts of your brake system where the hose is going the wrong way.

1904 Cadardi said...

Lieutenant O,

Magura brakes use mineral oil, not DOT fluid, so no worries about it attracting water. But since it isn't hygroscopic any water that does get into the system will tend to settle at the lowest point and corrode, or freeze and break something.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Some guy from upstate,

Yes, Magura, using mineral erl. And yes, much simpler with a reservoir.

--Wildcat Etc.

Saskatchewanian Speed Wrench said...

Any decent v-brake is an improvement over these fussy old rim hydros, unless the routing is truly is a roller coaster path. Just make sure the spring tension on your mechanical brake is as high as possible, and that you use a high quality, smooth cable, and reinforced housing lubricated with light lube. The Jag LEX brake housing works well. The cheaper flatwound housing tends to kink.

Anonymous said...

You can change the rear tire on that fr8 without removing the wheel. That's what the escape hatch is for.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 5:55pm,

With roller brakes yes, but how would a tire clear rim brakes?

--Wildcat Etc.