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Monday, March 29, 2010

Freewheel Tips

If you anticipate that one day you will need to remove a freewheel from the hub it is on, there is one tip to help with that. Grease all points that it is in contact with the hub. Applying grease will save you time and prevent damage to the freewheel and hub during removal. Grease the hub threads and the back of the freewheel. The back of the freewheel comes in contact with the hub and can be a seizing point if not greased. Spin the freewheel on and it will tighten up during your first few cranks when your wheel is installed and chained up. Always take your rear wheel to the local shop to remove the freewheel unless you own an appropriate removal tool.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Seatpost Install

Have you ever had a squeak come from your bike that wouldn't go away no matter what you loosened or tightened, disassembled and reassembled, or beat with a hammer out of frustration? It might have been your seat post. First grease the clamp bolt to keep if from seizing up and add to its longevity. Add grease to the seat post itself. Grease it beyond the point you think it will be installed into the frame. The grease will eliminate metal on metal rub that causes the elusive squeak which you might think is everything else but the seat post. Tighten the clamp bolt and you should see grease squeeze out above the seat tube. Wipe clean and enjoy no more squeaks.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Going slow during stem installation results in getting the task completed right the first time.


The photo below shows the negative effect of tightening stem bolts in an uneven manner. The stem cap in this case has moved forward resulting in an uneven amount of clamping force on the bars.


Place the stem bolts in the stem while the crossbar is still resting on the frame and twist them in a few turns with your hand. Move your bars to where you prefer them to be positioned. Tighten the stem bolts with your allen key a few turns at a time in a star pattern until the bars are secure. Do not use a lever, the grease on the bolt threads allow sufficient tightening of the stem bolts with an average amount of force.


Wipe the bar clamp area with a cloth to make sure it is free of any grease or lubricants. Place your handlebars in the bar clamp area with the crossbar resting on the frame. As the bars rest on the frame and in the bar clamp area centered evenly, place the stem cap over the bars. My 3 year old daughter was hanging out at the kitchen table workshop today.


Tighten the clamp bolts alternately a few turns at a time until secure. Tightening one bolt more than the other will put too much stress on the bolt and the stem threads. If you adjust your stem or remove the stem, it is very important to also loosen the clamp bolts alternately as well. Removing one clamp bolt all the way before the other will cause the bolts to bend. Do not use a lever to tighten any stem bolt. The grease added to the bolt threads allows an allen key to have suffeceint leverage to secure the clamp bolts with an average amount of force.


I choose to use a Tree compression cap. Here I added a small spacer to cover the steer tube on top of the stem with a bit of space given to allow movement of the steer tube as it moves up during tightening. The added space does not allow the steer tube to bottom out against the compression cap. If the steer tube bottoms out against the compression cap the headset will not tighten properly. Tree Bicycle Co. has many different size compression caps for different brands of forks.


Supercross forks come with a compression cap that is hollow which allows the steer tube exposed on top of the stem to be covered without using spacers. Grease the compression bolt you have and tighten it while you hold the frame and fork up off of your work surface. Holding the frame and fork off of the work surface while tightening the headset allows the headset to tighten together evenly as it is free of pressure directing it out of alignment. Never sit on your bike while tightening a compression cap.


Install onto the the steer tube of the fork a stem spacer of your choice, or none at all, depending on your height preference. Slide the stem onto the steer tube and check for steer tube installation depth into or out of the stem. The first photo below shows spacing that places the stem too high. This causes the steer tube to fall too low below the stem top compromising strength and safety. The second photo shows the stem installed with a shorter stem spacer allowing the steer tube to extend beyond the stem top. This will provide a secure clamp of the stem around the entire length it is in contact with the steer tube.


Grease the lower bearing race and the top bearing race of the head set.


Before you install a stem grease all the bolts lightly at the threads only. This will prevent squeaks, increase life of the bolts, help prevent stripped bolts and help prevent seizing. Do not grease the underside of the bolt head where it comes in contact with the stem face. Greasing the bolt head will cause the stem bolts to be easily overtightened resulting in stripped and bent bolts. After you grease all the bolts spin in the two stem clamp bolts a few turns. Next make sure you remove any grease or residual manufacturing lubricant from the stem clamping area.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Headset Install

The headset is the interface between the front end of the bike and the tail end of the bike. A very important part that should be installed with the right tool each time. Taking a frame down to my local shop to have a headset pressed in once in a while really pays off, I can be assured the cups are pressed evenly and securely into the frame. In addition, the shop mechanics will be able to tell if the headtube must be milled to accept the cups. There are many ways to install the headset cups at home, hammer and a 2x4, washers with a big bolt and nut, rubber mallet and so on. All of those installation types cause damage, damage that you don't need and can't afford when it comes to safety. I took a headset to the shop today with a frame and fork. Headset in frame and bearing race on fork.