Tag Archives: Bicycles

Replacing bicycle chain and freewheel

It’s that time of year again. I seem to be repeatedly doing the same thing without learning. Found that the chain on my bike was slipping, replaced with a new set of chain, and then found that it was slipping even more. Sounds familiar. Checked my blog, and this happened just less than four years ago. Because I thought I have “just” replaced my freewheel, I thought it is the front chainset that needed replacing instead. Went to the bike shop, luckily this time it’s just down the road, the shopkeeper told me that every time I replace my chain I should replace the freewheel as well, otherwise the chain will slip. Looks like I have worn out the freewheel once again. Probably should have just replaced the chain every one or two years. As it turns out that it is such an expensive exercise having to replace the chain and the freewheel together every time! But I seem to remember my colleague suggested to me before that a general guideline of his is to replace the chain every 5000 miles. Looks like since I don’t really take care of my bike, and don’t keep track of how many miles I’ve covered, I should just come up with my own rule and replace the chain every one and a half year instead. OK, this post shall mark the day on which and I replaced the chain. Let’s see if I can remember…

The importance of servicing a bicycle

I must have been cycling for 5 years now, on the same bike I bought through the Cycle-2-Work scheme. I have mended punctures numerous times, changed brake pads at least once for both wheels, and replaced freewheel and chain a year and a half ago. But not once have I really serviced my bike. In fact I have not even cleaned my bike before! I mean I have put on the odd lubricants on my chain every now and then, and tightening the brake cables when absolutely need to. But I really haven’t found the need to bring my bike in to a bike shop to get it serviced, until my brake cable got so dodgy that I can hardly brake my rear wheel.Cycled to Halfords about a week ago, looking to buy a fixed lock that I can mount onto external wall to secure W’s bike. Then found out that I can still purchase their one-year bike plan, which includes bike servicing, because my bike was bought from Halford. In fact the bike mechanic can still recall that I bought the bike there! I found this rather unbelievable, but anyway he had a look at my bike to confirm and thought my bike was still in, well, tolerable condition. Fantastic! Because I was toying with the idea of bringing my bike to a local bike shop in Reading town centre instead, as it is easier for me to leave and collect. But at only £18 for a one-year bike plan, it was an easy decision.Collected my bike today. And I honestly could not remember that I can cycle so quickly with my bike! I know my bike has now been pumped up, more than I usually am accustomed to. But it is still incredibly quick. Gear changes are much smoother, and I don’t miss certain gears anymore. The brakes are very responsive as well. Had I known that maintaining my bike in good conditions can make such big differences I would have sent my bike in to the bike shop more frequently, perhaps once a year. Wasted too much energy cycling for too long!

Freewheel and cassette

The freewheel on my bike was worn out and needed replacing. It was worn out by the bicycle chain, which I’ve not replaced after using it for more than 2 and a half years. Initially I thought only the bicycle chain needed replacing, as I could see the chain floating on the front chainring, likely due to the chain being elongated after years of usage and not having been taking care of properly. But after replacing the chain, the chain started to slip on the freewheel. It slipped so badly that I was effectively left with only one useable speed on that heavily worn out freewheel!So I went online to see what I need to get if I want to replace the freewheel myself. At the time I didn’t know the difference between freewheel and cassette. And I didn’t even know that my bike is still using the old threaded hub! Until my colleague told me that the cassette I bought would not fit the threaded hub I’ve got on my bike when he was about to show me how incredibly easy it is to replace a cassette. What a waste of everybody’s time, including my other nosy colleagues who would also like to know how to replace a cassette. :)So for anyone who hasn’t a clue what system they are using, it is definitely worth the effort to take off the rear wheel to find out first before diving straight into buying the parts. Although it is quite rewarding to have understood the difference through the hard way, as I also found out various bits of information about different bicycle parts along the way, I think it’s probably not necessary to go through the process of ordering the wrong parts. Having said that, this online bike store I used is really quite impressive. I returned the cassette on Friday in second class post, and the money was already refunded back into my account on Monday! It costed me about £2 to send the cassette back, but they offer free postage service, using first class Royal Mail, when I buy stuff from them. Makes me wonder how much does it actually cost them to send the stuff. Such cost efficient retailers.

Freewheel and Cassette


Bike tyres

My rear tyre’s tube is leaking air as we speak. But luckily it’s slow enough to last me the journey between office and home with a single pump every time before I ride. Obviously I have thought about changing the tube, rather than wasting my energy pumping everytime I want to ride my bike. But I feel that my rear tyre is almost worn out now after using it for two and a half years, coupled with the fact that it has already suffered numerous punctures during its lifetime, so I thought I might as well replace everything all at one go.

Continental Sport Contact

However, turns out that it was quite a nightmare trying to find the correct tyre for my bike. After spending considerable time on the Internet reading about tyre sizing I still think I’m non the wiser. It really doesn’t help when some on-line bike stores use a combination of different metrics to describe the tyres they sell. Especially the French sizes which I find particularly confusing. So I decided to go back to the bike shop where I bought my bike from to get the tyre I want. But annoyingly they ran out of stock! As a result, I’m back to shopping on-line again. Somehow this time I manage to find a few tyres that are of the exact same size as the one specified on my bike’s tyre. What a relief. This is the rather slick tyre I’ve gone for, with plenty of good reviews, and looks good as well 🙂 Surely it will fit nicely on my rim?!

Bike thief

Someone tried to steal W’s bike while we were watching tele yesterday, at around 12 midnight! It was quite an unpleasant experience to be honest. I was first alerted by the knocking sound of the chain that is used to chain the bike around the metal rail. But I quickly dismissed it as I thought it was just strong wind that caused the long chain to swing, which happened quite often. However, the longer I heard the more it sounded like someone was pulling the chain. So I nervously opened the front window blinds to see what actually happened, almost certain that someone was outside. To my horror, he was still there, as he didn’t know we opened the blinds. After a quick second of hesitation, as I thought perhaps I should also call the police, I opened the door and shouted at him. Under this kind of circumstances, which I had no experience of, I wondered if I should chase out, as he very quickly sprinted away. I had a look around from the front door, but still not confident enough to walk out to check on the bike, as I feared that he might be still around. It was all very nervy. I ended up holding an umbrella, and was reassured that W would close the front door after I walked out, before I actually went out to examine the damage. I was surprised to see that the whole bike lock was gone. Think he might have successfully picked the lock, in this short period time. Incredible. I thought the lock I bought was quite a good one. Anyway both of us become very paranoid after this incident. We even thought someone might have entered our flat, as W found that our kitchen door was left opened. W even passed me a knife as she thought someone might be hiding behind the toilet door. That was scary moment, although I didn’t think that could be possible. Anyway I was relieved to see no one in the toilet. Damn, this is really no good to our nerves!