Monday, October 29, 2018

Them's The Brakes (Do You See What I Did There?)

I was going to get all kids of stuff done today.  However, as I took my younger son to school this morning the braking on the WorkCycles (Magura hydraulic rim brakes) was simply too bad to ignore.  (Believe me, I've been doing my best to ignore it for months, but when both levers are bottoming out on the grips you cross that line between "sub-optimal braking" and "bad parenting.")

"No problem," I figured.  "I'll just change the brake pads."  Indeed, I already had a set of fresh brake pads ready to go, and in theory installing them was a simple matter of popping the old ones out and snapping the new ones in.  Just listen to this German man explain it to you:


The thing is, on the WorkCycles, it's not quite so straightforward.  See, the great thing about this bike is that it has fenders, skirt guards, a full chainguard, an internally geared hub...  What all that stuff means is that the bike can spend most of its life outside, and also that you can hop on it without having to worry about your pant cuffs or whatever.

The bad part, however, is that half that shit has to come off because you have to remove the wheels to replace the pads.

Still, I was feeling optimistic as I rolled the bike into the basement:


Indeed, the front brake was easy, since the only extra steps I had to perform to remove the front wheel were to move the front light out of the way of the brake's quick release, and to unplug the light's wire from the hub.

The back brake was another story.  I've removed the rear wheel on the WorkCycles a number of times now, and every time I have it's been a pain in the ass.  No doubt my own ineptitude has a lot to do with it, but even so there's no getting around the fact that you've got to undo a lot of shit--even with the handy removable dropout:


There's the axle nuts, and the dropout bolts, and the chain tensioners, and the chain guard, and the cable for the hub gear...  By the time I was actually able to access the brake pads I was pretty pissed off, and I reinstalled the rear wheel with the impatience and contempt of a cop shoving a perp into the back seat of a squad car.  Oh, also, the chain tensioners are directional.  See how the axle nut washer has a little tab that fits into a slot in the tensioner?


Well, if you flip the tensioner the slot's on the wrong side and you can't tighten down the axle nut:


Pretty much every time I remove the wheel on this bike I put the non-drive tensioner on there backwards, realize it when I'm just about done, and have to undo everything to put it back on the right way.

Anyway, two hours later and the bike finally stops like a dog outside of a veterinarian's office, but there goes half my day:


For some reason I insist on doing all my own bike work, but if I had any sense I'd just bring the WorkCycles to a shop.  In fact, I'd probably have given up long ago, except I have this (no doubt totally unfounded) fear that the shops in New York won't be sufficiently smug to service this bicycle.  Or else I'd move somewhere with a garage where I could set up a workshop, in which case at least I'd be able to spread out and take the time to do the job right.  Oh how I dream of hanging my tools on a wall instead of having to dig them out of a tiny storage space like a toddler rummaging through a toy chest every time I want to use them...


(Image stolen from Park Tool website)

Then again, if I moved somewhere with a garage I'd be in the suburbs, in which case might as well ditch the WorkCycles altogether and say "Fuck it, I'm leasing a Hyundai."

Anyway, at least I don't have to worry about it until the brake pads wear out again.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Podiating yo.

HDEB said...

The image of the Workcycles on top of the multicolored leaves is good enough to be an advertising photo. Sure is good to have well functioning brakes.

jake said...

The picture of the cargo bike with the leaves is downright gorgeous. You may have a second career shooting bike porn instead of writing it.

Pelon said...

Aaah nothing like jerking off at work and getting a chance to podiate! Thanks for letting me know that I'm not alone in bike repair frustration. Happy Halloween Tan Tenovo

Jefe said...

"Kids of stuff" sounds messy.

Skidmark said...

Snobby, I think you should give yourself (and bike mechanics) more credit, actually fixing shit is becoming a lost skill/art.

ken e. said...

saw where things were going...

Schisthead said...

I hear those breaks are super sweet when they are functioning correctly.
Do you get a decent amount of miles out of pads, or do they self destruct pretty quickly with the wet weather riding you're prone to do with them?


Also: Do you think Kurtis Blow is good at wrenching?

Smug self wrenching dude said...

I have a corner of the garage for all the tools all spread out in, but that wheel building station is pure opulence.

JLRB said...


Yesterday was supposed to be my catch-up on bike maintenance day. I took a nap instead.

Loved the leafy photo

Billy said...

Internal geared hub rear wheel dismounting aside, those break pads look wicked simple to replace. No wishing you had two extra hands while trying to manage the six-degrees-of-freedom-to-fall-out universal nut on a standard rim brake.

I've been putting up with some suboptimal breaking for a while because I dread the thought of wrangling that stack of nuts and washers again.

Billy said...

Also I should try installing tensioners on my wife's bike again. There wasn't quite enough extra room between the dropouts to fit them both in, but maybe just the drive side would be sufficient to stop the chain dragging on the inside of the chaincase.

huskerdont said...

So if you get a flat on that pig, it's guaranteed to be the rear wheel (as opposed to a regular bike, where it's only 90% guaranteed to be the rear wheel.

kraM said...

Wouldn't it be easier to just completely remove the brake caliper instead of the wheel?

FR8 said...

I got a rear flat on my FR8 and could not figure out how to get that back wheel off or work the handy drop-out thing. I rolled it to my un-smug fredlike bike store and it took them over an hour to get it off, fix it and put it back together or the equivalent of five days of my time!

Anonymous said...

Every time I rummage through my bike parts and tools box I marvel at the fact how little my life has changed since I rummaged through my box of toys as a kid 30 odd years ago. I count that as a success.

BikeSnobNYC said...

huskerdont,

I'd just leave wheel on, pull out tube, and patch in that event.

kraM,

You'd think so, but it's not. I tried that first.

FR8,

Remove axle bolt, dropout and theoretically you can remove a tire bead and remove and replace tube. (However, in practice I don't think tube would fit between brake pad and rim.)

--Tan Tenovo

Drock said...

More is better

leroy said...

My dog breaks for photo ops.

dindelus said...

So you have to take a half a day off of work so you can work on your workcycle so you can get back to work if it breaks?

Grump said...

In case you didn't know, all the cool people live in the suburbs...…

dop said...

Wheels should be trued on the kitchen table, while fighting for space with others

Fourhourerection said...

If park Tool's wheel truing bench is that uncluttered, they're going out of business!




potato powered said...

City living bike maintenance struggle is universal I think. Living in apt. downtown has been so liberating for me as far as being able to do things on a bike.

That said, sick of doing maintenance with bike upside-down in kitchen. After MTB I go 1-2 miles out of my way to wash bike off at sister's house. And there's a $25 fine if leasing agency discovers a bike kept in our unit or on the patio (wtf?). I almost brought my bike to a shop just so they could clean the drivetrain, took it to friend's house instead.

Benefits of city outweigh drawbacks for me. Can't complain too much.

Olle Nilsson said...

Dread the day I get a rear flat on my Brompton. Definitely had the "leave wheel in place and pull out tube and patch" method in mind, but it will probably fail at the valve stem. In that case, I leave the wheel in place and pull out the bus pass.

huskerdont said...

I've heard tell of people who can patch tubes without removing the wheel, but I can rarely find the hole without a bucket 'o water to put the tube in so just throw them away.

This one time? I was mountain biking and had already used my tube so had to patch and couldn't find the hole and had to walk to a creek to submerge the tube in. True story.

DR said...

Ironically, regarding matenance and repairs, you have to treat the FR8 like the car it (theoretically) has replaced (ie get someone else to do the work). I have roller brakes on mine so I’m able to pull the tube out of removal dropout. It’s still a process and not something you’re going to want to do on the side of the road. One of the best things, in my opinion, that you can do to simplify FR8 ownership is swap out the tires (big apples) for marathons. Living a mile away from a Dutch bike shop helps too.

Matt said...

All I can say about flats is "tubeless with sealant". Haven't flatted an MTB tire in over a decade (dozens of little white donuts form on my tires after every ride, showing all the punctures that have happened). I've seen people slash a sidewall where the sealant can't do it, but been lucky enough to not have that happen to me (I do carry a tube just in case tho). Recently went tubeless on the road bike (since I went up to 28mm tires, less pressure, more volume). Jury's still out on that tho...time will tell. But the MTB tubeless is a no brainer.

George Krpan said...

Ya' shoulda got a bike with hydroilic dics breaks.

Die free said...

NYC sure is not the only place with bike hate'n curmudgeons... Here's a fine example from little ol' New Hampshire.

http://www.seacoastonline.com/news/20181024/call-for-bicyclists-to-follow-laws

Also fun fact New Hampshire has just one protected bike lane and it's having a party this weekend. So let's party maybe it will keep the curmudgeons away...

http://www.seacoastonline.com/news/20181028/pedalpalooza-to-celebrate-middle-street-bike-lanes

Pist Off said...

For clarity- It’s a Surly Dingle or White Industries Dos freewheel, both made with two cogs to easily make a dinglespeed. They’re cool setups for older, slightly wiser knees.

Ellie said...

Lovely autumnal bike portrait!

Olle Nilsson said...

George Krpan: Hydrolic Dick Breaks is kind of a good thing. He's got Hydrolic Rimjobs. Don't even know the point of that.

Thousandth fastest said...

Or, just do your maintenance in the bathroom. Good as gold.

https://thousandthfastest.wordpress.com/2018/09/06/sometimes-cycling-favours-the-suburban/