Bicycle road test report

I fitted new tyres, a new chain and a pair of new brakes, and this morning I rode out for a test ride. Everything was a total success and although my ride was only 18miles I came back with a broad smile on my face. The ride was a complete relief.

I'll tell you a story.
Are you sitting comfortably?
Then I'll begin.

I love Vittoria Rubino Pro tyres. They are light and flexible, hard wearing and puncture proof, and until recently have been readily available from a variety of outlets. Early this year, I looked on the 'net to buy another pair. Ribble.co.uk is my favoured site and to my dismay, they had none in stock in 23mm black/white – the ones I wanted. You can click on a link and Ribble will email you when they come into stock. However, I checked other sites and found no-one had any in! Wiggle had a due date of March.

Weeks went by, and no stock anywhere, Wiggle's due date went back and back, and even now it says "Late June". Ribble never got back to me and I was getting desperate as the ones I had were wearing out. I emailed the UK distributor, and I heard nothing, so I telephoned them. Trouble was, a recorded BT message said the number wasn't recognised! I emailed Vittoria themselves but a week later I'd received no reply, so I decided to try bike shops abroad. I found Bike24.com based in Dresden, Germany and they delivered my tyres in a few days. Great service.

Also, I needed a new chain. When I went over to 10sp, I bought two Campagnolo chains and over the years, I swapped them every 1,000miles or so. Chain A has done 5,044miles and Chain B 4,072miles. The both of them were showing their miles as they were becoming a little sloppy, though neither of them were "worn" in the usual way ie stretched. My chain checker wouldn't go in and even measuring over 12" they showed no error. It was only when you looked closely using a 39" steel rule that you could see the stretch. So I ordered a new chain (now called Chain C) from Ribble, and it arrived on the same day as the tyres from Bike24.

I set about fettling and tinkering. Whilst both the wheels were off, I fitted the new tyres and gave the bike a good clean and re-fitted the wheels. It was then that I found a horror! Right there before me, on the front brake, I saw a crack on the left hand side calliper. How long it had been there, I can only guess.

I was devastated. My precious Campagnolo Chorus brakes broken. There was no way on God's earth that I was going to ride my bike with a crack like that on the brake, and although Campag do all the spares for the brakes, they don't do the main calliper arms. It had to be a new brake set. I've had them since spring of 2007 so they are well out of warranty but I have contacted Campag via their "contact us" button on their site to let them know of the defect. No reply as yet ......

So it was back to Ribble again. I bought a pair of Campag Athena brakes and paid extra for Next Day Delivery, and yesterday Parcel Force brought them to me and I was fitting them within minutes! I didn't even take the sticky labels off!

Anyway, off I went on a test ride this morning.

The tyres performed exactly as I'd expected. Nothing to report there.
The new brakes were shiny and perfect and performed as expected. Nothing to report there.
The chain, although performed beautifully was "different" to the old chains. Nothing to put my finger on, just "different". Maybe crisper and quieter in operation, though clunky – but crisp – when changing gear. Remember, it's been nearly 10,000miles since I last had a new chain, so I'm not really used to it! The old chains would switch from one chain ring to the other with hardly a whisper, but the new chain was definitely clunky. Positive, perfect, accurate, but clunky. Maybe it'll wear in ........

Any road up, that was my test ride. I'm a happy bunny, but £80 worse off and a have useless Chorus front brake. Whether it could be "repaired" in some way I've yet to think about, but even then can it be trusted?

Regards to all, and see you in Skipton next month!
Mick.

11 comments on “Bicycle road test report”

  1. Kern wrote:

    fettling and tinkering

    – I love it.

    Your crack-in-the-caliper story brings to mind the night we were packing our bikes to fly to Romania. It was 7 in the evening when I noticed a major crack in the socket of Mary's crank arm. Ugly. A local bike shop (Fresh Air) performed heroics that night and we made the flight the next day.

  2. Hilary wrote:

    There's nothing nicer than putting shiny new kit on your bike and finding it all runs sweetly. The crack in the caliper is worrying – I've always assumed that by keeping my bike as immaculate as possible I would immediately notice such things but your bike cleaning makes mine look half hearted! :)

  3. Patrick wrote:

    Well Mick, to a non-engineer's eye the brake shoe bolt was over tightened and split the metal. There isn't enough metal around the slot, especially at the top, and the rest of it was about to snap off. Unrepairable IMO.

    Most nuts and bolts on a bicycle are guesswork. The only ones I can see a torque setting for are 4Nm and 9Nm marked for the stem bolts (I use a torque wrench on those). The seat post bolts are as tight as I can get them and the pedals are on very tight (haven't split the cranks or stripped the threads yet). One bike has a metal block welded up into the fork crown, presumably to stop the mudguard / brake hanger bolt crushing the steering tube.

    Yes, see you in Skipton. My bike, and the one Hilary will be riding, have been checked over many times for this event, but it's only 100 miles!

  4. Alan wrote:

    Assuming Mick hadn't taken a crowbar to the Allen key, I'd say there must have been a weakness in the calliper, which would raise worries about the rest of the metal, even if that crack could be mended.

    The new brakes look superb.

  5. Chris wrote:

    Yes, that broken caliper looks scary and beyond repair. I must post a picture of the left crank hanger I took off my Coventry Eagle Touristique. When I was in a bike shop near me looking to buy other things I casually enquired whether I should replace the part. The bloke in the shop nearly keeled over when he saw the state of the bike I was about to ride across country a few days later. It was a bit dangerous I suppose.

    I agree that the new brakes look lovely.

  6. Mick F wrote:

    Good morning!
    No, the block securing bolt wasn't tightened too much, in fact it's not easy to tighten anyway, as the block always wants to rotate.

    It can only be a flaw in the casting, and it's very worrying. How many more are like that? Is the problem just with those particular brakes?

    Off out at 7:30 this morning to meet a friend cycling down to LE. I meet him in Okehampton and ride with him to Camelford where I'll turn for home. At LE, he's turning back to complete The Double. I'll meet him at Camelford tomorrow, and escort him back to Okehampton!

    Brakes are working fine, and look good too! I was out for a 30mile spin yesterday and tested them out – new brake blocks need bedding in and they improved as the ride went on.

    See you soon,
    Mick.

  7. Mary wrote:

    Goes to show the importance of good regular bike cleaning and maintenance doesnt it? Obvious I know, but I know so many folk who never really inspect their bicycles.

    You get to know them inside out and notice stuff when you strip them down regularly.

    Glad she is all working fine again. Hettie has just had her rear mech cable replaced, and its really like she is brand new all over again.

    Lovely.

    When do you set off for Yorkshire Mick? I know you are cycling the route, and wondering how long it might take you.

  8. Mick F wrote:

    Hi Mary,
    I set off on Sunday 17th of July and head for Bridgwater. "Only" 84miles, but it will add to my Eddington Number aspirations of being an E80.

    My ride today Okehampton to Camelford with Ferrit Worrier added to my E Numbers. Still only E72.

    BTW, Malc (Ferrit Worrier) sends you his regards – and asks how you got on with the bats!

    Regards to all,
    Mick

  9. Rob Walker wrote:

    I find your site because I'm on the point of building an Audax bike with Chorus groupset but was worried about getting a mudguard/fender under them with a reasonably large tyre on (700×25 or 28).

    Looks like you managed to get a mudguard on fine – did it need much bending, any issues with it, what brand etc?

    Really would prefer a standard fork for short reach brakes so i can stick with Campag and not have some other (poss Shimano) caliper on an otherwise Campag groupset.

    Thanks for any tips

    — Rob

  10. Mick F wrote:

    Hi Rob.
    The mudguards are the narrow SKS ones. 35mm.
    http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/sks-chromoplastic-700c-27-inch-mudguards-with-fitting-kit-prod664/

    I use 23mm tyres, and have been narrower too, but I've never tried to fit 25mm. I always wanted narrow tyres, so the frame is built for them. It is springy 531c and is a delight to ride – and comfortable too despite 120psi fast narrow tyres.

    When I had my frame made, I asked them to build it with close clearances for road brakes, but still have the ability to fit mudguards. Mercian wrote back – this was well before the internet days! – and they suggested that they fit "under bridge" fittings. I saw the advantages of that, so my 'guards are drilled to take a bolt into the fork crown and rear brake bridge. This method is far neater than using the metal clips/fittings.

    The rear 'guard is easy. It fits perfectly and simply. It's the front one that is the problem.

    I use a longer bolt at the front, and I fit spacers – I use two tyre-valve securing rings – to hold the 'guard lower. This is because the 'guard is higher at the front so without the spacer, the 'guard would sit at the wrong angle.

    The original fitting on the 'guard is riveted to the plastic and has a long slot for you to bolt the front brake through. This is problematical if you have recessed Allen bolts, so people normally fit it at the front behind the brake calliper. I have tried it like that, but the slot on the riveted bracket was too long and it fouled the bottom race of the headset, so I cut the top off and gripped the bracket behind the brake.

    Eventually, I returned to the spacer idea, as it is better even though I need some fiddly bits. However, you won't be able to do that anyway because it's unlikely you've got the bolt hole under the fork crown, so you'll maybe have to modify the bracket.

    The Athena brakes I have fit well and the reach is perfect, though the rear brake is at the limit of reach.

    I hope that helps, and I wish you luck with your project.

    Mick.

  11. Rob Walker wrote:

    Brilliant, thanks for the extra info Mick – very useful.

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