The last bike tune-up of the spring was the most satisfying.
A Gary Fisher ATB that had been city-fied with street tires and a more upright stem -- but still rocking a Rock Shox fork that weighed about as much as a small anchor. The bike is ridden almost daily during the spring and summer, and perhaps once or twice a week during the rainy season.
Owner is one of my bosses at the LRS (Large Reform Synagogue).
I last tuned this bike a year ago, at Citybikes when I still worked there. At the time I made a careful list of things to keep an eye on and things that would probably need replacing soon. B kept the list and, with additional instructions from me ("have the shop look at your drive train so they know what cassette and chain to sell you") bought the parts in advance, to drop off with the bike. He brought it by yesterday afternoon.
In addition to basics like a new chain and cassette cogs, the bike was also scheduled to get a lighter rigid fork swapped in for the shock fork. I had given B the dimensions of the fork he needed to buy, and he'd found a used one.
Sadly, the fork the shop had sold him was incorrect; there were no canti bosses, or even a disc brake platform; and it turned out to be for a 700c-wheeled touring bike. Knowing that my schedule was tight -- this was to be my last tune-up of the spring -- I called UpCycles, the bike shop closes to my house, and asked if they had a used fork of the correct dimensions. They did, and I sent B over to buy it. He returned with an aluminum rigid fork.
I'm not a fan of aluminum forks or frames. They fail with far less warning than steel, and the ride is stiff and unforgiving for all but the heaviest riders. But it was only ten bucks and it solved the problem at hand. So I shrugged, smiled, and said, "this'll work just fine."
B went away happy.
Today, I did the work. I had to partially dismantle the shock fork to get the crown race off (for installation on the replacement fork). I broke a tool in the process (don't ask) and it scraped an ugly little gash across one knee. Finally, I got the damned thing free and installed it on the replacement fork. Pieces of the dead shock fork lay strewn about the shed as I moved on.
The wheels were in surprisingly great shape for how hard they'd been ridden. I figure they're good for another year at least, before the rear rim begins to go concave.
Everything seemed fine and straightforward -- until I installed the new cassette and chain, and tried to shift.
Idiots. The people at the shop had sold B the wrong size cassette for the length of derailleur cage he had. His derailleur wouldn't wrap the largest number of cogs. Crap. I decided to simply replace his derailleur and offer him some trade-in for it against the one from my stash. It worked like a charm, and I can always use his old derailleur on another project.
Finally, I had to locate the source of an annoying creak somewhere at the stem or in the headset. I'd overhauled the headset already on the bike, and it seemed fine. Finally, I realized the creak came from the old adjustable stem, frozen into the tallest possible adjustment and rusted in place. I pulled it apart, greased the contact points, and reassembled it. Creak mostly gone; I figured the grease would work its way into the farthest recesses with riding.
B picked up the bike tonight and is thrilled with how nicely it rides. I was thrilled at how thrilled he was. Another happy bike under a happier rider.
Done now. I've earned enough to eat on for the whole month of June with these tune-ups, plus a little left over to cover a couple of utility bills. All good. Now to wipe off the grease and lock the tools away until July.