Saturday, March 12, 2011

First fettle

Fettling is a British slang phrase which means "the art of repairing or tuning a bicycle". Until today the extent of my bike maintenance has been fixing punctures and changing tyres. I've never changed a chain before and when Rich's snapped on our Wales weekend ride last year I decided that I wanted to be able to change/fix my own chain.

Dirty Cassette and chain

Last Autumn the local bike shop (LBS) advised that I would need a new chain and cassette as mine were overly worn. I decided to defer replacing the parts and keep using the bike over the winter as I didn't want shiny new stuff exposed to grime, salt etc.  The LBS quoted about £35 for a Shimano 105 5600 cassette, £30 for a KMC X10 chain and £20 or so for fitting, and I'd be without my bike for a number of days.

I'm riding the Wiggle No Excuses sportive next weekend with Andy so I had to get this sorted out this weekend.

My bike previously had a KMC X10 chain and an Ultegra 6600 12-27 cassette. A month ago I looked in to the options and settled on a super-light KMC X10-SL chain (silver, not gold) for £32 and a Shimano 105 5700 cassette from Ribble for £31.  The chain is an upgrade, the cassette is one step down in the Shimano range but it is a newer version so it should be similar to what I'm used to.

To allow me to shorten the new chain to the correct length I bought a Topeak universal chain tool from the LBS. I got a 10% discount meaning that I paid £8.09 which is within 10p of the best price from Google Shopping.

I struggled for a while trying to remove the old chain via the special missing link and then gave up and used the new chain tool instead.

I laid the old and new chains alongside each other to work out that I needed to remove 7 links from the new chain. A missing link was included to easily join the ends.

There's a good video showing how to remove and fit a new cassette. It also mentioned that there might be an extra spacer needed which was lucky as I found I did indeed already have an extra spacer on my bike. Without the hint I would probably have removed all of the old parts and fitted only the new. Instead, I made sure I only removed bits that I was replacing - keeping the existing spacer.

A quick spin 'round the block suggests that everything's back where it's supposed to be. I didn't need to adjust anything with the gears.

I also got some quality SwissStop brake pads from Jim and Anna for Christmas. They are secured with a 2mm allen key which took me a while to find. Changing them was no trouble: remove the securing bolt, slide the pad out, slide in the new one, screw in the bolt, adjust the brake cable to accommodate the wider pads. For the first pad I used the new bolt supplied with the SwissStop pads but the head got damaged as I tightened it up so I reused the Shimano supplied bolt for the other 3 which were no bother.

Roll on next weekend.

1 comment:

Phil Willoughby said...

105 is more durable than Ultegra, for a marginal weight increase. I generally favour 105 as the best compromise in the Shimano range. I use 105 chain as well because my previous experience with SRAM PC-99 chains and their similar link system caused me to believe the result is not as strong as I would wish.

You aren't, or at least weren't when I last looked, supposed to undo and redo the missing links anyway; so the one-shot Shimano fastening system which is slightly more secure seemed the better bet to me.