Road Bike tinkering

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by Scruffmonster, 19 Apr 2010.

  1. Scruffmonster

    Scruffmonster Über Member


    I came here maybe a month ago, had a sniff around as I was about to get a bike through C2W, that turned to hell so I had to go trawling the Gumtree for an acceptable bike.

    I ended up buying a Raleigh Airlite 100 for £60. It used to look like this...
    So far it's been solid, comfy, quick enough for starters and I've done a decent 35 mile hop that didn't destroy me.

    However... I'm running on maybe 50% of the available gears. The chain rubs on the front derailleur at the two extremes, when running the chain on the diagonal. I don't feel I should be running these combos anyway so that's fine. The smallest rear sprocket wont play ball at all (Over stretched cable?), the actual changing of gears is so far off it's untrue at times. ie I'll select the gear, 30 seconds to minutes later I'll get that gear. It will jump gears on hills, I'm sure I've painted a bloody enough picture... Oh, and these gear issues are more evident when on the big ring, shifting on the small ring seems better.

    So, what I'm after is advice. Happy to run it into a LBS, but what kind of fee will I incur in doing so? Do you think I'll be looking at a new chain, shift cables and then a fee for them to diagnose all of that?

    Can anyone suggest a few tests I could do beforehand to maybe limit my costs? I know I sound like I'm after a magic wand, but this bike needs to be close to a no cost exercise. Any help appreciated,


  2. Gerry Attrick

    Gerry Attrick Lincolnshire Mountain Rescue Consultant

    Hi Scruffmonster, welcome to the forum. You could do worse than looking at this.

    If you peruse the same site, you will find many videos which will help you in setting up your pride and joy.
  3. My local bike shop (lbs) charges £20 quid to have a go at adjusting gears. Often they can advise if it is worthwhile with just a visual check. They generally want you to get good service out of a bike and use them for whatever parts and service you need, rather than upset you and not see you again.

    Bike shops on the whole are unlike some of the rip off car mechanic chains. They wantneed you to come back and they know you will only do this if they are helping you, rather than ripping you off.

    If they succeed in adjusting them then great, if they don't manage then they tell you which parts need (or could do with) replacing. Either way they will make it better than it is, even if it leaves something to be desired.

    I do think that if things are worn, rather than out of adjustment, then worst case is the chainset, rear cassette and chain may need replacing, which is likely to cost 3 figures, but that is worst case, so see what they say. If this is the case they will be able to keep you running for a while, until you can afford it, even if it is with reduced functionality.

    Talk to them, express the same concerns you have here, you are very likely to get an honest answer that may surprise.
  4. Hacienda71

    Hacienda71 Mancunian in self imposed exile in leafy Cheshire

    Wilmslow, Cheshire
    A lot of what you say sounds like adjustment rather than worn components. A reputable LBS should not cost a fortune mine charges £32 per hour and say in an hour they cover the following:

    • Brake and brake cable check and adjustment
    • Gear and gear cable check and adjustment
    • Wheel truing
    • Wheel bearing check
    • Headset adjustment
    • Bottom bracket, cranks and pedal check
    • Handlebars, stem and seatpost check
    • Tyres checked and inflated
    • Chain wear report
    London may be a little more expensive.

    You could do the adjustment to the gears yourself though there are lots of tutorials on the web and you don't need specialist tools for basic gear adjustment.
  5. OP

    Scruffmonster Über Member

    Cheers guys, the loose plan is to try and make it better myself. I'll run it into a shop or two, see if I can get some free advice and work with that, and the bits listed here. It's all experience I suppose.

    The bike is only a stop gap so I don't want to end up spending much on it as it only owes me £60 right now.

    If anyone knows a decent shop in the Kent area that'd be handy. Bromley/Dartford way.

    Cheers again.
  6. kettle

    kettle Senior Member

    Ladybank, Fife
    local to me is a bike recycling charity - Bikeworks Glenrothes. They do repairs, service and parts sales as will as complete bikes.
    Perhaps you could do a search for somthing similar in your area and get you bike adjusted.
  7. kettle

    kettle Senior Member

    Ladybank, Fife
    just another thought you could look a youtube videos etc on bike repair and try yourself
  8. John the Monkey

    John the Monkey Frivolous Cyclist

    Scruffmonster, from what I recall, the airlite has had some decent reviews - if nothing else, it'll give you a good platform on which to hone your bike fettling skills.

    Sorting out gears is fairly simple - just work methodically, using the videos from bicycletutor. I also recommend the Shimano technical documents for your derailleurs, which will walk you through setting them up properly (on shimano's site, in pdf format).

    Other stuff to check;
    Turn the bike upside down & run through the gears.

    If it doesn't shift to LARGER sprockets cleanly, you need to add more cable tension (you may have a barrel adjuster on your brake hoods, or on the rear derailleur - LOOSEN it to add tension).

    If it doesn't shift to SMALLER sprockets cleanly, there is excessive friction somewhere in your system. Get some GT85 and lubricate the derailleur pivot points. Then change the gears to the LARGEST sprockets - change down without moving the pedals (this should make the gear cables slack). Put some oil on your finger and thumb and run it along the gear cable (a drop is enough). If your bike has slotted cable guides, move the cables out of the guides and slide the cable outers (the plastic tubing around the metal inner cable) to allow you to lubricate the length of the cable.

    If your cables are rusty/excessively dirty, you may want to change them - if you fancy doing that yourself, PM me and I'll send you a couple of Shimano stainless inner cables to use.
  9. gregster

    gregster New Member

    Nr Rochester, Kent
    A bit further out for you, but Geoff Wiles in Strood is very good. I took a borrowed bike in there, 12 yr old Dawes, that was in need of a good service etc and it cost me £60. That included all new cables, gear adjusting, wheel truing, sorting Shimano brake/shifter leavers and more but it came out running like a different bike. Very happy to dispense with advice as well.
    01634 722586 if you're interested.
  10. Globalti

    Globalti Legendary Member

    Don't even try to adjust the gears until you have changed the outer cable at the rear derailleur. These wear and need replacing every 6-12 months to keep the shifting good. If you can replace all cables, so much the better.
  11. OP

    Scruffmonster Über Member

    Is this gospel truth or ideal world speak? About to spend an hour or so trying to improve things. If new cables are essential, I won't bother.
  12. gbb

    gbb Legendary Member

    What Globalti says is really right. If the cables hanvt been lubed or off for some time, theyre likely to be gunged up, sticky, corroded, which will impede your attempts to adjust the gears.
    The negative then is, to get them off, you've got to disconnect them from the gears, so you're forced to do it properly. There's no going back. Try to get some info off youtube etc about setting gears up before you go to disconnecting the cables....see if you think you can do it.
    Its not rocket science....a little practice and playing. Sometimes its a b1tch, sometimes it works first time.
  13. OP

    Scruffmonster Über Member

    Sooooooo, the bike's been it's serviced, feels better, but Ive been told that I have Campag shifters and Shimano everything else, and that they're never going to see eye to eye.

    I dont doubt the truth in this, but I am looking to make good. Could ditching a front ring help? Is that possible? Could switching out 1 rear component help? Looking for clean, consistant shifting, not miracles.

    Ideas welcome
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice