Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Building My Bike: #7 Brakes, Derailleurs, and Chain

Front too close.
Rear too close.
What could be so hard about brakes? Take them off the old bike, put them on the new frame, put new brake pads on. Done, right? The problem was that both brakes didn't fit on the new frame. Huh? I've never heard of brakes not fitting but they didn't fit. The rear brake pads were right up against the seat stays and the front brake pads were right up against the fork. Mild panic because I didn't want to buy new brakes. Did some reading. Didn't find anything. Okay, if this isn't a problem that's documented then it isn't a problem, right? If you look at where the brake contacts where it's going, there's this thick washer. Perhaps I just needed another thick washer.
Front with washers.
Rear with washers.
Well, I couldn't find any at the hardware store or the LBS ("I must throw out ten of those a week." Sigh.) so I improvised. I decided to use regular washers and stack them until the pads cleared their obstruction. It took three washers for each brake but it worked. Now, I'm not convinced that regular washers are the best thing to use. They are smooth and the thick washer that was with the brakes is serrated, likely to keep it from turning when force is applied to the brakes. I looked and I looked and I finally found that JensonUSA stocks serrated washers so when I next place an order from them, I will include some of these.

Derailleurs proved to be a bit easier. Hanging the front derailleur was pretty straightforward: put it a few millimeters above the big chainring. The rear derailleur was a bit more interesting. Putting it on was no problem but I noticed this adjusting screw that I hadn't seen before (because you don't really see it until you're looking at the derailleur from the inside). It is the B-adjustment screw and it is used to, in a nutshell, keep the cage from rubbing up against the cassette (learn all about rear derailleur adjustments from Sheldon Brown). That would have to wait until I put the chain on.

As for the chain, I could have gone with the usual Shimano Ultegra chain but I decided to give the KMC X10.93 chain a try. It was almost half the cost of the Shimano and it got great reviews. Sold. The instructions in the FLO Cycling guide I have been using say to wrap your chain around the big chainring and the biggest cog, add two links (one if you have a master link, which the KMC has) and that is the length of your chain. I was a bit skeptical but I checked other sources and they had the same advice. Worked great. I was surprised when all that fit in the rear derailleur but it did.

Now that the chain was installed, I could go back and work on that B-adjustment screw. The FLO Cycling video that accompanies the guide for this shows the top-most pulley always quite a distance from the cassette. Hmm. My top-most pulley only gets that way when it is pulled down a bit by the chain. Hmm. Well, I'm not convinced I have totally set this correctly but it is working for now. I'll probably have to revisit this.

That was the easy part of setting up the derailleurs. The real adjustments happen after I attach the cables.

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