Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tighten It Up

For Christmas this year, RandoGirl bought me a new Lynskey Sportive which I am slowly turning into my new touring bike. The disk brakes give me lots of clearance for bigger tires, and it has enough braze-ons for me to mount fenders and racks on the front and back.

It's going to look great when I finish it ... or, rather, when Gran Fondo (a.k.a., The Greatest Bike Shop in the Universe) finishes it. They're going to install the stainless steel Honjo fenders, which everyone says is tricky.

And I'm not good at tricky.

While waiting for the fenders to come in, I went ahead and installed the racks that I had ordered from Velo Orange. They're stainless, too, and should be great for touring. I decided to put some old plastic fenders on at the same time, since it had been drizzly here and I wanted to make sure that everything would mount okay.

Then I went for a ride. Just to test it all out, of course.

It was lunch time, so I did a quick loop to a local place. After eating, while getting back on the bike I noticed that the front fender was now loose at the back, and realized that I had not tightened down the bolts that connected the stays to the fender. The bolts must have then worked their way off at some point in the past 10 miles. Cursing to myself, I tried to scan the road on my way home in hopes of finding the strange screws -- these aren't the kind of things that you can just pick up at the hardware store -- but to no avail.

Like I said: Not good at tricky ... and not so hot at what should be easy.

A week later, I re-secured the loose stays on the front fender by removing one of the stays from the rear fender and scavenging the screws. While I was at it, I tweaked the rear rack a bit, since I had decided that it might be possible to lower it a couple of inches. If you've never ridden a loaded bicycle, the lower that you can get the load the better it is -- within reason, of course. Lower loads are more stable, but if the load is too low then you'll scrape stuff on corners.

With the front fender now re-attached and the rear rack just a little lower, I decided to go for a ride. Just to test it all out, of course.

It was lunch time again, so I did a different loop to a different local place. After a tasty sandwich, I had just begun heading home when I heard a funny sound. It was coming from the rear rack.

Yep. I had loosened a couple of screws to lower the rack -- the big, rare, stainless steel screws and fitting that secured the sliding bar to the rack at its front -- and then not tightened them back up.

Fortunately, one of them was still connected. I tightened it up by hand, and circled back to try to find the lost one. Returning to the restaurant, I searched the ground and then slowly rode through town looking in the gutters.

No dice.

Stopping at a traffic light, I decided to make sure that the remaining screw was still snug, so that the rack would not fall off on my ride home. It had fallen off while I was looking for its brother.

The ride home was grey and cautious, with me regularly looking back to see if the rack was still there, scanning the road's far shoulder for anything shiny. No lost parts materialized, but at least the rack stayed on so that I'm only out a couple of screws and not a rack ... or a whole bike, if it had decided to come off in a spectacular fashion.

I'm going to chalk this up as an expensive lesson. From now on, if I loosen anything I need to make sure that it's tight again before the bike rolls out of the garage. It's actually a good rule of thumb to regularly go around and snug up any screws and bolts on a bike, since things tend to shake their way loose.

An even better rule of thumb, however, is this: Don't let RandoBoy work on a bike.


  1. For fenders, racks, etc that I rarely take off, I use lock thread to ensure they don't work out over time on brevets or other long rides.

    Happens to the best of us. If it hasn't, then you prob. don't ride enough :)

  2. True, Jon Boy. These were even the ones with nylon on part of the threads -- what are sometimes called "airplane bolts" -- but that wouldn't overcome user error.

    1. I debated on the Sportive also, but instead picked up a Tricross Compact Disc last week for the same reasons. Disc brakes, front and rear fenders and racks, etc. More laid back geometry.

      If you get a chance after you log some decent miles on it, post a review to let everyone know how it holds up. Some of the Ohio randos use Lynskey.

  3. Let me know how the Sportive disc goes. It or the non-disc Sportive is on my list of possible new bikes.


    1. I'll do that, Tom. Just dropped the bike at Gran Fondo, so they can put on those fenders. They are flat-out freakin' gorgeous!

  4. RB, sounds like you are a candidate for some zip ties of several thicknesses. I could show you how those work next time we meet.....

    1. Yeah, and remind me which side of duct tape goes down ...