Santa’s Bike Workshop

He doesn’t ride a bike, but he’s handy with tools; my friend Sean was over last weekend.

“Come on down to the garage, I have something I want to show you.”

This doesn’t fool him one bit; he’s enjoying a glass of wine and knows he’ll be drafted into some bike repair project. He’s right.

the Park PCS-10 Repair Stand

the Park PCS-10 Repair Stand

I’ve only done a few maintenance projects on the bikes — swapping tires and tubes mostly, a brake cable, new brake pads, tightening a shift cable — such is the range of my skills.

I spent a week in Portland this past July at the UBI Introduction to Bicycle Maintenance class, but like most things, it’s use it or lose it. Since I’m not tuning bikes all day every day, I get rusty. About the only thing I’ve retained is how to use the tools; that’s good, but many tasks become more challenging than they were in class. I don’t have an instructor to ask for help, instead I’ve tuned into Youtube. There’s a video for just about every job you’re about to tackle, especially bike component upgrades.

First, it was time to upgrade the bike repair stand. Why did I wait?

the Park Tool Work Tray

the Park Tool Work Tray

I’ve had the Park PCS-10 Home Mechanic Repair Stand for over 2 years. Don’t buy it without ordering the work tray, too. I’ve balanced nuts and bolts on top of bike saddles of other bikes that aren’t going under the knife, so to speak, as I attempt to organize the taking off and putting back on of components – how rookie. I’ve had the tray for only 3 days and it holds the rag, the bolts, the wrench of the moment and the grease tube, the Isopropyl alcohol, which was always precariously perched just out of reach. I’m more organized and sometime soon I’m sure this will equate to improved productivity.

The tray hasn’t had any impact on my number one problem in the garage: removing components that are on too tight. For help I go to Two Wheels One Planet in Costa Mesa, where on Friday morning, right as he opened, Will Skeeter saw me wheeling in the half-put-together bike in need of a little professional help. I couldn’t get the grips off the handlebar to replace the brake handset that went with the new sidepull brake that went with the new steel fork. All this stuff is related and one item that’s on so tight I can’t budge it slows down the entire effort. I waited until I had 2 little issues and then I hauled the bike into the shop. Child’s play for Will, amazement and appreciation for me as he sends me out of the store 20 minutes later having tweaked 2 items I was stalled on and corrected a third I didn’t know was a problem.

As he’s walking back and forth to the storeroom I hand him a configuration for a touring bike I want built – he takes a quick look at it and says it’ll be no problem. As I depart he won’t charge me the nuisance fee that I deserve.

Next up: Monday I’m waiting for the new bottom bracket. Of course, I’m hoping it will go on the bike no problem, that is once I get the old bottom bracket off — it’s stuck way too tight.

A new brake handle

A new brake handle

New sidepull brakes

New sidepull brakes to go with the new steel fork

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