Monday, May 19, 2008

Q&A: Installing brake pads; higher gearing; bike noise fix

Q: Hey Jim - What can I use to lubricate Campy brake pads to get them to
slide more easily into the sleeves?


A: Try breathing on them, John. The moisture in your breath is usually enough to make them slightly slippery and allow them to slide into place. If that doesn't work, try isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). This will wet them more but evaporate almost immediately to not cause any problems. It won't hurt the rubber either.

Also, some brake shoes have set screws that you have to remove before you can remove and replace brake pads. I'm assuming yours don't have these and/or that you loosened yours before putting the new pads in.

Have fun!

Q: Hi Jim. I have a hybrid bike with the following lineup in the drivetrain: Shimano Tourney SIS Index, SR SunTour, SRAM GripShift MRX 21 Speed and a Shimano 14-34T SIS Mega-Range cassette, and a SR SunTour aluminum triple 48/38/28T crankset. The bike is a tad on the heavy side, but it is very sturdy, and has 700 x 35c tires, so I can hit some of the back roads around here. I really don't need the lowest of the low gears, and I would like to get a little faster high-end out of the bike. I only need to gain a couple of mph, in order to keep up with the local traffic. Is there any way that I can do this, without replacing the whole drivetrain?


A: Hi David,
It should be pretty easy to get a higher gear. What I recommend is visiting your local bike shop and purchasing a cassette with a higher gearing range (they should be happy to install it for you for about $10 plus the cost of the cassette and you can keep the old cassette - or you could buy the tools to do it yourself and be able to switch them whenever you want). You might look for one that starts with a 12 tooth or 13 tooth cog. That will give you a significantly higher high gear and allow you to achieve a higher speed. You will probably end up with a slightly harder to pedal easiest gear, but if you can ride at those speeds you are probably strong enough to get up hills on it just fine.

I hope this helps and ride safe out there,

Tip: Jim - Here's a tip on fixing a bicycle noise that I didn't find on your webpage of bicycle noises My bicycle is an 07 Raleigh Competition, which is equipped with an Easton EA70 carbon fork. The bike came with a stack of (5) 5mm headset spacers beneath
the stem. I replaced it with a single 25mm spacer from Chris King. A creaking noise came when I would get out of the saddle on steep climbs. I went through many potential causes and fixes with no change. Then one evening the ol' light bulb went off. Surely, I thought, there must be some amount of deflection in the steer tube when I stand and climb a steep grade. Could this deflection be causing the noise?

I removed the stem and spacer and lightly lubed the steerer, and each contact surface as I reassembled. I also snugged the assembly down a bit more than I had in the past, being careful not to preload the bearings too much. And YES, the noise has gone away!

Corbin, KY

Reply: Thanks a lot for sharing, Dave! I'll add this great tip to my noises page sometime soon.


Joe Fast said...

Hi... I have a question. I am currently ridng a Specialized FSR "FROG" about ten years old and pretty much stock. Recently I have encountered a metalic noise when pedaling hard. Said noise disappears when pedaling torque is reduced; however, it is getting worse. Chain stretching???

Bicycle Aficionado said...

I would check the cassette cogs (gears on the rear wheel) to see if they have loosened up. They're held on with a lockring that sometimes can loosen from riding. When that happens the cogs can make a metallic noise when you're pedaling hard. You can just try to wiggle the cogs sideways with your fingers with the wheel on the bike. They shouldn't move or shake at all. If they do, that is probably the noise and tightening the lockring with the right lockring tool should fix it. Try that and maybe it'll be the problem. Also, check my extensive webpage of bike noises at Hope this helps!
Jim Langley