Fixing up an Old Bike: Bottom Bracket Overhaul

In my last post about fixing up an older CCM mountain bike, I thought I was done tinkering with the thing. I believe I said: “Leave well-enough alone.” Yep, I did say that. But I didn’t do it though; oh no, I had to go mess with it even more.

CCM Riptide, brought back from the dead.

CCM Riptide, brought back from the dead.

Last time I worked on fixing up The Beast, I knew that the crank bearings (Bottom Bracket, or BB for short) were really bad; the crank wouldn’t spin a full revolution with no chain on. Since I was both waiting for spring and waiting for a recent knee injury to heal, I had nowhere to ride with any of my good bikes and I was itching to just do something relating to a bike. So I delved into the bottom bracket issue with my CCM Riptide. Continue reading

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How Winter Riding can Improve MTB Skills, Part 1

This spring I was planning on learning and practicing a few new mountain bike (MTB) skills to get better and more confident on the trails. I was also wanting to teach my father-in-law a few small things I’ve picked up, since he’s gotten into some trail riding.

My father-in-law was telling me about the friends that got him into MTBing on some local ski hills, but his stories were more scary than exciting. These friends are getting major injuries (brake-lever-impaling and breaking bones) and I really don’t want that to happen to him! I like him too much! It sounded like he wasn’t getting enough guidance and was just being thrown on the trail and left to his own devices. This isn’t really the case, as his friends are really nice and do give him instruction, and some of their injuries are apparently random bad luck on the trails. Although I think with some more basic skills in the toolbox we could be safer on the trails. I really want to learn and teach some of the ground-level MTB skills that develop confidence and safety on the trail. The problem is he lives 6 hours away and I’m not likely going there with a bike nor is he likely to make it here with his anytime soon. Continue reading

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I recently found this blog, bikeyface, and realized that sometimes we forget the reason we cycle. For the fun of it. Just for fun. Otherwise we wouldn’t do it. On her page, “What is a bikeyface?” Bekka illustrates (very well, I might add) that a bikeyface is the face you get when you’re enjoying biking to it’s fullest. Cruising around, fast, slow, whatever!Here’s my favorite bikeyface from her website:


Too often we get bogged down by the negativity of complaining about the bad side of cycling: lack of space, respect, cars, people, dogs, etc. Sometimes I forget that I cycle because I enjoy it. Go read her blog; its pretty funny and reminds us of the best reasons to cycle and enjoy life! Don’t forget the reason you started and don’t get lost in the negative aspects, otherwise no one will want to join you. Get out there and enjoy some fresh air, and have fun!

Oh, and who cares what kind of bike you have? NO ONE can tell you how to enjoy something, as long as you enjoy it yourself. Ride a cruiser, singlespeed, BMX, mountain bike, road bike, tri bike, 26-er, 29-er, 27.5-er, TANDEM (oops, slipped on the CAPS for a second, oh well), 3wheel, 4wheel even! Ride in the sun, ride in the rain, and even ride in the snow if you want (it’s fun). Or don’t! Grab some panniers, get a trailer, pack a tent and go for a camping trip, or just ride to the end of the block and back; it doesn’t matter. Just ride when it’s fun for you and for no other reason. Ride fast, ride slow, but most of all ride fun, and try to be nice to people. Respect and get respect and enjoy the wonderful sport of cycling.

And thanks for reading my blog! I hope I can keep it positive and uplifting for you and will try to keep the complaints to a minimum. Cheers!

Posted in Cycling, Fun Stuff, Funny | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Replacing Grip Shifters on a Mountain Bike

Grip shifters were prolific on mountain bikes during the late 90’s, were replaced with thumb-index shifters, and recently made a comeback due to the fatbike craze. For that reason, it’s worthwhile learning how to replace/install a grip shifter.

I recently decided to fix up an old mountain bike to sell in the spring. Among other things, I wanted to replace the broken grip shifters that didn’t work anymore. The bike would autoshift about four gears (of 7) whenever I started from a stop in 1st gear. This made it so that I had to constantly keep my hand on the grip shift while riding. The reason for this is that the shifter body was cracked and the detents (or click-stops) wouldn’t hold the shifter in place at each gear. Here’s how I replaced my grip shifters.

Replacing the Grip Shifters

This is a job I’ve never done before, but was willing to tackle because I’m mechanically inclined and careful. The best advice from my repair class instructor was to go slow, take pictures, and be careful of flying parts and springs.

The first step was to detach the cables from the front and rear derailleur and remove the grip shifts from the handlebars. I like to work on one side at a time so that I don’t mix-up cable housings. To remove the grip shifters, the bar-ends were removed, then using a bit of soapy water, the grips were removed. My trick for this is to slide in a flat screwdriver a ways, then pour in a dribble of soapy water. The grips loosen up and slide right off.

Grip Shifter and grip.

Grip Shifter and grip. Cracked shifter housing is obvious around the setscrew.

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Fixing up an Old Bike: Is it Worth it?

The Bike

I own a 15 year old CCM mountain bike, which I rode as my only bike for about 11 of these years. Until I got new bikes in 2010 and 2011, this bike was mostly ridden for leisure and a bit of commuting to school. I started commuting to work by bike and quickly realized this bike wasn’t going to cut it. It was slow. It was heavy. Older women on cruiser bikes were passing me (no joke, they really did; multiple times).

Now the bike has been sitting in my basement gathering dust. I stole the tires from it to make winter studded tires for my new MTB, so it doesn’t even have tires anymore. I want to fix it up and sell it, but the question is whether it’s worth fixing or not.

RIP the CCM Riptide or Resurrect it? Is it belly-up because it's dead?

RIP the CCM Riptide or Resurrect it? Is it belly-up because it’s dead?

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Cheap DIY Winter Cycling Upgrade

Riding in the cold always has its way of highlighting the weak links in your equipment: foggy glasses, too many layers, too few layers, frozen derailleurs, and the latest one: a bike light that only lasts 1/2hr on low.

In December, we had a day that was -30C with a wind chill of -42 or so (that’s -22F/-44F for the ‘mericans). Naturally, I went out for a ride! I was out for an hour and learned two things:

  1. There is such a thing as too many layers for -30C.
  2. My Light and Motion Urban 500 bike light does not handle -30C.
Light and Motion Urban 500

Light and Motion Urban 500. I’m sure it’s a great light in summer, I wouldn’t know, I mainly use it in winter.

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Posted in Commuting, Cycling, Winter | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Rocky Mountain Soul Winter Rebuild

I recently had the good luck of being able to attend three bike repair classes, put on by my local bike shop Bikes and Beyond. If I’m still lucky come January, I may be able to attend the remaining classes. I’ve done plenty of home repair and maintenance on my bikes in the past, but being able to learn from a pro was icing on the cake. Even when you think you know how to do the simple things, there are tricks that only time and experience can give you, so it was great to learn some of them. In this post, I hope to pass on some of the simple tricks I learned and discuss how I prepped my bike for this year’s winter season.

Yup, me and one other crazy guy rode through the winter last year. Although he rode more, kudos!

Yup, me and one other crazy guy rode through the winter last year. Although he rode more than me; kudos for that!

Ahh, the good old public library. Where obviously they thought no one who reads would also ride a bike in winter.

Ahh, the good old public library. Where obviously they thought no one who reads would also ride a bike in winter. Funny, in summer, there are these extremely spiky bushes encroaching on the bike rack. Maybe they just don’t want cyclists at the library? Come to think of it, they did get rid of Bicycling Magazine from their magazine racks. Conspiracy? </End Rant>

Yeah, so anyway, if the snow we have so far is any indication, we are in for a pretty snowy and cold winter. Having learned a bunch on bike repair and adjustments, I decided to almost completely tear down my Rocky Mountain Soul and rebuild a clean, greased, and adjusted bike, ready for winter. Plus, my first ride in sub-zero temps had my rear brake cable seize on me in the middle of the street. I figured I better at least ensure that won’t happen while commuting!

OK, so you don’t have to completely tear down your bike to get ready for winter. I just REALLY wanted to. No, you really only need to clean it, grease it, oil it, and probably put on some sort of winter or studded tires. has a wonderful set of posts on preparing for (Chicago-area) winters. Some very good advice and partially why I started riding into winter. On to the fun!

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Posted in Commuting, Cycling, Repair and Maintenance, Winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments