Mr. Fix-it #1. 30 days of biking, #19

Troubleshooting. It can be the most rewarding or the most infuriating aspect of owning a bicycle.

You hear a click. You think, for sure it’s the crank arm, so you check to make sure both cranks are tightly attached to the bottom bracket spindle. You ride the bike.

Click. Click.

You take the pedals off, grease the threads, reassemble. Go for a ride.

Click. Click, click.

You remove the crank arms, so you can tighten the bottom bracket cups. You reattach the cranks, go for a ride.


You know, sometimes people hear what they know beyond a doubt is the bottom bracket and it turns out to be the seatpost. You pull the seatpost out of the seat tube, grease the inside of the seat tube, and reinsert the seatpost—good for you: you remembered to mark the seatpost height before you pulled it—and go for a ride.

Nothing. And then, as you turn around in the road: click, click, click.

You are not comforted by the regularity of the noise.

But you are doing the right thing, making one change at a time so you can identify what the problem is. And so you continue.

Is the frame cracked? Is the rear brake housing catching on the frame where it enters and exits the top tube? Is there a problem with one of the hubs? Is a head race bearing brinelled? Are the stem bolts tight? Has the seatpost come loose? Is one of the fender stays loose?

You think about the potential of a fender problem even though this particular bike doesn’t have fenders.


You set the bike aside. But as you lean the machine against the wall, you hear it again.


You almost feel the sound, and it’s not the crank or headset or the non-existent fender stay—turns out it’s one of the spokes in the rear wheel, moving against another spoke under load. The rear wheel is ever so slightly out of true, and the problematic spoke is ever so slightly loose. You tighten the spoke and go for a ride.


You ride farther. Get out of the saddle and lean the bike to the right and the left; you pop a wheelie, hit the brakes, slow down and accelerate rapidly.

Nothing. Nothing at all.

You return to the garage. Lean the bike against the wall. Sink into a lawn chair. Close your eyes.

A motorcycle with a non-existent muffler and an erratic throttle goes down the road.

It’s isn’t clicking. Still, you know you could fix it.

And it would take only seconds to accomplish.

April 19, 1 mile.

About 16incheswestofpeoria

Former bicycle mechanic, current peruser of books, feeder of birds.
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