Thursday, March 31, 2016

Amelia is Locked and Loaded

Amelia's First Bath
I probably waited too long, but better late then never!

To begin the clean, I first removed the wheels to scrub them and the frame separately. Only after removing the back wheel did I realize how difficult it would be to degrease the chain, which is supposed to be done first anyway. The reason is, the degreaser takes 5-10 minutes to "do it's thing" so I can work on something else while that happens. The problem is the chain does not spin without the cassette, which is attached to the rear wheel. Also, you want to get the degreaser into the entire drivetrain in order to remove all the grimy chain lube that gets stuck in every crevice. I put the rear wheel back on and began that process. You can read my last post here under "Changing My Chain" to see why keeping a clean chain is important.

While the degreaser worked it's magic, I began scrubbing the front wheel, fender, and other parts of the frame with soap and water. After ten minutes I washed the degreaser off with a light spray from the hose. Then I used soap and water and a bottle brush to scrub out remaining crud from the chain, cassette and derailleurs that the degreaser couldn't remove. Since I had waited so long for the first cleaning, there was a lot of lingering grime that the brush still wouldn't remove. This forced me to use a toothpick to get in between each cog and scrape the remaining filth off. This took an added 15 minutes. Next time I will remove those chunks first, then apply the degreaser.

Bike Parts from
Between each step I rinsed Amelia off with a light spray from the hose. Never use pressurized water on your bike as it can get into sealed areas and wash the grease out. These are areas include: the head set, hubs, bottom brackets and bearings. Grease creates fluidity allowing your bicycle to roll with as little human effort as possible. Without grease the bearings experiencmetal-to-metal contact which causes the rapid wear to the bearings (1).

Chain Oil from
The remaining work was to continue to scrub down the rest of Amelia, reattach the wheels and lube the chain with oil (not to be confused with grease mentioned above(2)). When lubing the chain, it is important to spin the chain for a minute or so to be sure the lube has gotten into each link. Then you want to wipe off all the excess lube from the chain. You can't wipe off too much lube. This is important. The lube in between each link is what is required, and a simple wipe down won't remove that oil. Excess lube only attracts more unwanted dirt to your chain.

I have used two types of chain oil: Boeshield T-9 and Rock "N" Roll Gold Chain Lube. I am not experienced enough to tell you which I prefer and why. Bicycle Tutor is a great website for repair guides and also outlines what types of lubricants to use for what and why.

The final step, at least when working with rim brakes, is to be sure they are aligned on the rims and to double check they are working correctly. Mine did not line up perfectly so I toyed with them. The next day I heard that dreaded squeaking noise when you apply your breaks, so I took Amelia to my LBS (Local Bike Shop, aka NYC Velo) and had them fix my work (for free because I bought the bike there).

And there you have it, a nice clean bike!

Amelia Loaded on the train back to Manhattan
Installing Racks and Panniers
Right after the cleaning I went to work installing the racks. After much research, there was no clearer choice than Tubus racks. does a great job of explaining all about the racks and which ones are best for you. I went with Tubus Logo Evo for the rear rack and the Tubus Tara the front racks all in black to match my frame.

The installation was very straight forward. I just had to unscrew some supports for my fenders and reattached them. This actually required a third hand from my dad to steady the rack, but I suppose I would have figured something out.

Finally, it was time to throw on the panniers. I went with Ortlieb Back Roller Plus and Ortlieb Front Roller Classic both in yellow. Ortlieb is by far the most popular brand of panniers out there. They are waterproof and as says, "considered by many to be the best quality bicycle packs in the world – period!" I am happy to pay a little more for something that is going to last a very long time.

The choice of yellow was to make myself as visible as possible when on the roads. However, if I were to purchase again, I would have chosen black for aesthetic purposes. Ortlieb's panniers have reflectors which are very visible when unnatural light is shone on them. I think those, along with my rear light, would have been sufficient for visibility purposes.

These panniers have two clips at the top which wrap around the top bar of the rack. They are kept from bouncing by sliding the bottom hook around the vertical part of the rack. This hook is easily adjustable with no tools required.

My favorite part of these panniers is their quick release function. By simply pulling up on the handle, the clips unhook from the rack and you are on your way.

That's it! Now Amelia is ready to carry me and my belongings across the US. Now my focus is physical preparation and purchasing remaining items for camping such as a tent, sleeping bag, stove, pots and pans, etc.

Get on your bikes and ride!

(2) Oil is reduced in friction and does not hold or attract as much dirt as grease. Also, don't get confused, grease and oil are types of lube (lubricants).

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