Saturday I ended up doing an "unscheduled overhaul" on my bicycle.
I usually replace some components this time of year, particularly the drivetrain. That stuff takes a beating over the wet-and-dirty months.
My hand was forced by: 1) a broken rear rim, and 2) a front brake that went non-functional.
I build my own wheels, and I believe I've gotten pretty good at it. (It's partly art, partly science.) However, there's no denying the fact that skinny-tire components weren't engineered for riders who are 6'3" and 240-250 pounds. And no matter how well-built those wheels are, they fail. (I haven't broken a spoke in a long time. It's almost always the alloy metal around one of the spoke nipples that fatigues over time, and eventually pulls loose.) I keep a couple spare rims in the garage, and some extra spokes (plus a full, ready-to-ride-on rear wheel, just in case). I have a cheap truing stand. I can swap out rims and have the new wheel ready to ride on in a couple hours.
(How can you tell if it's a good wheel building job? I consider it a job well done if it starts out true, the spoke tension is relatively uniform - as measured by my precision "hand-i-mometer" haha, and if it doesn't need frequent follow-up adjustments and/or spoke replacements.)
My front brake cable was frayed. It's always nice to discover the problem some time other than when I'm doing the survival panic stop. (Whew!)
So as of Saturday afternoon, I'm riding on new rear wheel, with well-adjusted brakes, new chain and cassette (almost always replaced in the spring), and swapped-out skinny tires (the fatter/knobbier tires are on the hook in the garage 'til next November or so). Oh - and new handlebar tape! (Yellow and black leopard print! Edgy!)
It's not as "pretty" as a shiny new bike, but when I'm looking forward, the effect is similar...
Well under $100 invested, and other than a few tires, tubes and patches, that's all the maintenance my bike will need for 2009.
"How sweet it is!"
- Jackie Gleason