Sunday, March 22, 2009

Extreme Makeover: Bike Edition

Mick Jagger and I have had quite a week together. Here is the scoop on how Mick's makeover went down.

When I first got Mick, my friend (and bike mechanic) Heath fixed him up and told me that I would need to replace my cables soon. The first few months it was fine, just needed the occasional tightening and adjusting. Since then I have gotten a new chain, new pedals, new tires and new bar tape. Just the beginning...

Then I started commuting an extra 4 miles and over a mountain (photos to come, for those of you who have asked!). That was the straw that broke the cables back...literally. A week ago, I was having problems shifting gears. It got to where I couldn't change to the largest ring, so I tried to adjust it myself. Oops, I messed that up! I ended up adjusting the hi-low screws on the derailleur...much too much. Then I couldn't shift up OR down. Nothing like riding a Singlespeed over Red Mountain each day!

So, I called Heath again for some help, and brought Mick over for some TLC. Up in the stand he went and we tried to change gears...POP...the cable housing popped and the cable was a bent mess. He taught me how to check for the problem and I learned a TON. It was the best part of the entire situation, learning how to identify the issue and fix it. I learned how to tell if my problem was in the derailleur or the shifters and how to fix both.

The next day I learned how to change my cables and housing, but not without some drama...including realizing my wire cutters were shit. A trip to the store to cut some wires later, and we were good to go. I learned how to adjust the cables to make sure everything runs correctly. I can't believe the difference! My bike has never ridden as well as it does now. We also installed the new rear rack I bought and adjusted the headset so it was tighter.

It is so empowering to learn how to fix my own bike. At this point, I feel like I could change cables and housing myself and adjusting them, along with changing a tire, cleaning, checking brakes...the list goes on and on. Which is good, since I am trying to open a community bike shop!! We hope to do this exact thing, teach people how to fix their own bike and empower them. No more simply paying someone to fix Mick anymore. I sort of feel like a child "I do it myself!".

Oh, and I got a new saddle and I have one happy ass! My old seat was so uncomfortable and I tried shorts, tilting the seat, chamois butter (too much info?), and I am riding happy these days. I got a Bontrager inForm. I think it deserves it's own post, so stay tuned for that. I won't even tell you what my old seat was called at the bike shop, but it was not good...

This is a really long post to say that I HEART MY BIKE. I can't believe how awesome it is.

In other news, I rode to church tonight and discovered another bike in my usual parking spot (inside the doors)! We have nowhere to lock our bikes, so I think it is time to ask for a bike rack. I have been waiting for this day. Oh, and I had someone come up to me and tell me my legs looked great! Woot woot, it is working!!

Bike love


  1. Congrats on getting more comfortable with your bike and yourself.

    I know you are in love with Mick, but the time will come when you introduce more bikes to your stable.

    When you do, you might be interested in the Cycle Tree. It's a $49.99 gizmo that will hold up to six bikes in a small space (4' x 5' in my case with four bikes) and is on wheels, so you can shift it around.

    You can see the full review and pix here:

    No, I don't sell 'em. I was just impressed with the thing when I set it up this weekend. It's not often that you buy something that sounds too good to be true for the price and it turns out that it IS that good.

  2. It's great that you do so much yourself! Trial and error in the beginning, but eventually it all works out. I think I should also find someone that can teach me all about repairing my bike - so far I can only repair flat tires, grease my chain and adjust my brakes a little bit..
    Btw, have you got a special tool kit (or a good book) or do you just use the occasional screw driver?

  3. Hey, i ran a bike repair workshop at a local college based on Park tools website tips, they make great handouts if you print them off and the students found it really usefull. Maybe this will be of some help for your community bike shop?


  4. Wow, I am so jealous! I need a Heath! I just bought an old Raleigh, and it needs new cables and lots more, but I will probably have to learn everything from the internet (especially dear Sheldon Brown). Like anna, I can take care of my tires, chain and brakes, but there is so much more I want to learn.
    Bike on, girl!

  5. bike co-op
    i assume you know the SOPO people over here?


  6. wle-Yes, I do know Rachel. One of the other cofounders and myself attended Bikebike and visited Sopo quite a bit!
    Punk-thanks. This will probably prove to be invaluable.
    Palm Beach-too bad I live in a teeny, tiny little garage apt. I have enough trouble fitting Mick. It is going to be interesting when my bike family grows.
    Anna-I use the internet and have mechanic friends who help me.
    Lynn-he has been invaluable!

  7. A comfy saddle is priceless. You're so good for learning all about bike maintenance. I should probably do some learning myself, but my Dutch bike is so maintenance free, I haven't had a reason too (yet).

  8. I wonder what makes bike shops so magnetic? Nothing better than a BSG (bike shop guy) who just digs people getting into bikes. I just posted today about a guy who's teaching me how to build out my new road bike.


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