Tag Archives: bike maintenance

The Valve Variations

My fun with Kermit Allegra Spade (official name!) has been put on hold, thanks to a maintenance snafu. Kermit Allegra was originally slated to be my ride across town on Sunday. Filled with zeal, I decided that I’d check her tires before we left.

Walter is an attention whore

KAS did not come with a manual, but I felt especially confident because I have not only a standard Schrader valve pump, but also a Woods/Dunlop pump. What ever was on this bike, I thought, I’d be ready. Then I removed the cap to reveal something completely different. A Presta valve.

Presta valve

Unfortunately I did not stop there and turn to YouTube. It was clear that SOMETHING had to be done with the little brown top before air could be put in the tire. I opened the valve–but made the mistake of putting pressure on it. Whooooooosh, went the air. Flaaaaat, went my tire.

Flat tire

Le Peug and his old-school Schrader valves smiled in triumph and carried me off on the ride. Now I’m in the market for yet another pump to join the crew in my front hall closet.

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A Fresh Start with Betty Foy

Last week, Betty Foy got a major freshening up for the spring: a complete tune-up and cleaning, plus a new chain, brake pads, cables and a two-footed kickstand. She’s such a lovely bike and rides like a dream, still like new.

I documented her cleanliness, since she won’t look like this again until her next tune-up.


I guess the original chain would have lasted longer, if I had been better with preventative maintenance. I’ll try to be more conscientious from now on, but I’ve always been lazy with upkeep, whether for cars in the past or bikes now.

What is your routine for maintaining your bike(s)?

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The Mystery Flat

Flat tires are an inconvenience that I have not experienced for over a year, since I got Schwalbe tires on Oma and Betty Foy.

Sliced Tire

Sliced Tire

The cheap tires that came on Mr. Dottie’s Jamis, on the other hand, have had several flats in their lifetime. The most extreme flat happened last week – a clean slice straight across the tire itself. He went back to try to find the culprit, but did not see anything that could have sliced a tire, other than a grated bridge, but that seems unlikely. The problem cannot be a defect with the tire itself, because the tube was also sliced. Any ideas? Has this happened to anyone else?

Poor tire

Poor flat tire

As an aside, I must note that his Jamis frame is obviously too small for him, and the larger vintage Raleigh frame he recently built up is a much better and more comfortable fit. I don’t know why the bike shop sold him that size – they even had to special order it because the size was not in their inventory. We had no bicycle knowledge at the time, and we followed their recommendations. Boo.

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Zen and the art of…oh screw this! Can I ride my bike now?

Some people are into bicycle maintenance. They get a kick out of lubricating derailleurs and messing with thingamabobs. (See ecovelo) These are the same people who spend pretty Saturdays waxing their cars, if they own them. I am decidedly not one of those people. Quite the opposite. I neglect maintenance even when I know it’s wrong.

Sparkling Clean Oma and Betty

Sparkling Clean Oma and Betty

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Oma’s Operation

Just before the mixer on Thursday, Mr. D and I discovered that Dottie’s 53-cm Oma could not be adjusted to fit me. The seat post was a bit too long for the tube, so the seat wouldn’t go down to the top of the seat post. That left those last two crucial inches that meant the difference between my toes grazing the ground and my toes having to stretch to complete the revolution of the pedal — not the safest method of riding in city traffic.

Contrary to what Friday’s post might imply, Dottie is more than willing to go the extra mile to share her bikes with friends. Once we got back to the condo, she gave the go-ahead for those crucial inches to be amputated the next morning. Ten minutes and visit with the handsaw later, and the extra seat post length was history.

Dr. Greg: "The patient is recovering nicely and will be ready to ride later this morning."

Dr. Greg: "The patient is recovering nicely and will be ready to ride later this morning."

And I was able to spend the weekend on two wheels.

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