Tech Tips for the Cheap Cyclist
Reap the benefits of my years as a shade-tree mechanic.
The tiny little rubber bits on the heels of my bike shoes never last. They wear out or fall off, and then I’m walking around on the expensive carbon fiber soles. Those are even less wear resistant, and if you go through them you have to replace the shoes. If you have Sidi shoes you can buy new heel bumpers, but for Shimano you’re out of luck.
Shoe Goo is basically heavy duty shoe sole in a tube. Clean the shoes well, goop on a layer or three, and presto, shoes that will last for years without wearing out.
Speedplay Zero pedal bodies will wear down if your cleat is mounted too far to one side. This makes the cleat wobble and makes you sad. You could buy a new set of pedal bodies, but that’s expensive, and swapping them out is time consuming.
J-B Weld is super-strong epoxy with finely divided steel particles. It’s incredibly durable. Clean off the pedal with a bit of sandpaper and then some isopropanol, mix up some J-B and goop it on. Wait 24 hours, file down to size, and you’re good to go.
A clean paint brush
A medium sized paint brush, maybe 4” wide, is a great tool for keeping your bike clean between rides in the dry season. Brush the road dust off the frame and out from the crevices in the brakes. Put some gaffer’s tape around the metal parts to keep them from scratching the paint. Picked up this tip from my friend who (literally) wrote the book on car care.
An old flannel sheet
One used queen-size sheet will provide shop rags for years. Use scissors to cut off a piece as big or small as you need. I’ve found that a 7” x 7” square is just right for cleaning and oiling a chain.
Mini bar clamp
Installing new pads into Campy brakes by hand is really hard. With one of these clamps it’s a 30 second job. Lube the back of the pad with some spit and use the clamp to slowly shove it in.
Want to mount your pump on your saddle bag? Great, poke some holes in the fabric and use a set of nuts, bolts & washers to screw the mount to the fabric. Everything that’s not load-bearing or precision tolerance can be hacked to serve your purposes. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
An inexpensive cable lock
Bikes are stolen from garages all the time, usually it’s a crime of opportunity, when someone leaves the door open and unattended. There’s not much you can do to stop a determined thief, but you can easily raise the bar enough to deter the average low life.
Screw a large eyebolt into a stud near your bike and thread a sturdy cable through it. Doesn’t need to be a Kryptonite “New York” lock, just something that requires tools and determination to get through. I even keep the key hidden in the garage – a thief could probably use my tools to cut the lock or cable faster than they could find the key, so why worry?
Getting grease off your fingers
Phil Wood Hand Cleaner is the best way to get dirty grease out of your hands, but you can do almost as good a job with this one simple trick:
- Wash your hands to get off the bulk grime.
- Pour a half teaspoon of cooking oil in your palm and thoroughly rub it into your hands and finger.
- Wash again with plenty of soap.
The cooking oil dissolves the grease and frees it up for the second washing to take it away..
Rain gloves that actually work
I’ve never found a pair of “waterproof” gloves that actually kept my hands dry. I suppose you could wear dishwashing gloves, but that’d be horribly clammy. I finally gave up on “dry” and settled for “not freezing”. Wear a pair of wool gloves with a wind shell over them. Whenver your hands get too wet just wring them together to squeeze out the water. The wool insulates, and the wind shell keeps out the gusts.