Monday, October 22, 2012

Again with the Bike

After finally figuring out that I can avoid most of the trouble with exploding inner tubes by deflating the tires a bit before storing them in the garage or shed during the hottest months of the year, I thought, I hoped, that I was done with spending hours each week repairing bikes. Alas, I was wrong. We are now about two-and-a-half months into the school year, and we've only ridden our bikes to school a half-dozen times. I'm beginning to take it personally.

Once the exploding tires were resolved, the chain on Thumper's bike began falling off with surprising regularity. A neighbor carried it home for him when he was riding it in the afternoon. I put it back on. It fell off on the way to school the next day. I put it back on, put my foot against the frame, and pulled the rear wheel back as far as I could before tightening the nuts. It fell off again, at the exact same point in our route to school. The kids at the bus stop across the street must've wondered why we liked to stop at that spot and abandon his bike every day.

I got serious. I put the chain back on and used what I thought was an impressive combination of a lever and my body weight to pull it so tight that when I twanged it, it seemed to have no slack at all. It immediately fell off again the next morning. I looked up techniques for shortening a bicycle chain, then threw up my hands and abandoned the second-hand Goodwill bike for a brand-new, straight-from-the-retail-store bike. The next morning, the front tire was flat.

So I gave up for a couple of weeks, then spent part of the afternoon yesterday using a bucket of water to find the pinhole leak in the inner tube and patching it up. The lining on the rim that covers the ends of the spokes was askew, accounting for the hole, so I straightened it out and put everything back together. This morning, the tire was still properly inflated, so we headed out with hope in our hearts to finally ride our bikes to school again. Less than a quarter-mile later, the chain had fallen off.

I honestly don't believe that I or my father spent any significant amount of time or money repairing or maintaining my bike when I was a kid. I don't get it. Am I doing something wrong? Is he doing something wrong? It's not possible to pedal incorrectly, is it? Maybe he has superhuman strength that no ordinary bike chain can withstand.

I told him I'd fix it today, and I'll give it my best, but I can understand why his faith is shakeable. He hung his head sadly and said, "Maybe I just can't have a bike." No sir! I refuse to accept that! I WILL fix that bike if I have to buy a welder's torch and mask to do it! I am Captain Picard, and the line must be drawn here! This far and no farther!


Greg Moyle said...

It's because of how you are....uh...wait, its because of how he.... uh.. no. I got nothing for you. If you were having technology issues I would tell you to abandon them all and ride your bike more. Not gonna work here. Maybe its because you live in some weird vortex created by a grand conspiracy of big oil to keep you from riding your bike. You do live in Texas.

BadKitty said...

Maybe it is time to take it to a professional. have you brought it in to a local bike shop and explained the issue? Maybe they know the root cause of the chain malfunction.

I, Rodius said...

I couldn't bring myself to work on it today, but I think my Facebook commenters had it right with the rear wheel not being entirely straight, so that the rear sprocket is not in line with the front, causing the chain to derail. Apparently those marks on the rear fork are there for a reason, as in "snug up the chain on sprocket side .. then align the mark on the frame (over the slot next to the rear axle nuts) to the same mark for both sides (to align the sprockets) .. then tighten'r up." I'm smart enough to think I can do things myself, but not smart enough to actually succeed at doing them.

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