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A Holy Bicycle

Posted by Bruce Hildenbrand on Oct 27, 2009 11:28:51 PM

Before anyone thinks I am dragging religion into this piece, I guess the title should really be "A Holey Bicycle." What prompted this whole subject was the shock and horror I experienced when I took the bottom bracket out of my bike and found that the aluminum cups which hold the bearings and axle were heavily corroded and pitted. It looked like a battle zone in there and I was not pleased.


No, I don't believe that alien intruders had somehow invaded my bottom bracket. Clearly there was water and some other interactions going on which could ultimately have caused a catastrophic failure if the corrosive process had gone on much longer.


The fix was a bit complex, but luckily I have some good mechanics as friends and they helped set my mind at ease. Props to Neil Macc, head of service at Palo Alto Bicycles, who drilled a hole in my bottom bracket shell to allow any water which might accumulate to drain out. Also, it was important, being a titanium frame, that a 'Ti prep' compound be placed on the aluminum cups and titanium frame to prevent any corrosion.


The big picture in all of this is that routine maintenance of your bicycle is pretty critical to avoid both premature wear and/or catastrophic failure of your frame and its components. Some people think it is a badge of honor to have a bike which looks like it was just pulled from a mud bog or tar pit. But, if you are like me and always seem to be heading out on some epic ride, you just cannot afford to have a catastrophic failure.


Not only would a catastrophic failure potentially ruin a big ride you had been training for, but if you ride in some very remote places like I do, having your bike break takes on a whole different meaning. That might sound a bit extreme, but having to spend a night out on a lonely dirt trail can give you a very different perspective.


As we get ready to go off of Daylight Savings Time it might be a good time to take your bike into your local bike shop(LBS) for that end-of-the-season tune-up. Some people may decide to wait until we go back on Daylight Savings Time and do a spring tune-up. Whichever you decide, the key is to get regular maintenance on your bike. You do it for your car. Why treat your bike any differently.



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