Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bike Maintenance: Tube Change Tips & Park Tool Chain Gang Kit Review

A couple weeks ago I wrote about all the new stuff I got for my bikes.  Well, after a night of bike mechanical goodness in my basement and a trip to the bike shop yesterday for some assistance, I've completed the tuneups of my road and mountain bikes.  I'm ready for spring!

I know these details are everyday stuff for some people, but for me, it's exciting to have done all of this bike maintenance on my own (or with a little bit of help).

My mountain bike now has a clean and freshly lubed chain, new front brake pads, adjusted brake cables, a new saddle and a new set of Crank Brothers Smarty pedals.  One of my old pedals was overtightened, so even with my new Park Tool pedal wrench, I had to get some help from the bike shop getting it off.  I also didn't have any bearing grease, so though I really wanted to install the new pedals myself, I let the pros go ahead and do it for me.  My bike shop is cool like that anyway - they did it free of charge.  I'm hoping to go mountain biking with some friends tomorrow to try out the whole new setup!

My road bike has a clean and lubed chain that is as shiny as the day it was new.  I also succeeded - finally - in changing the punctured tube.  I learned two very important things about changing a road bike tube, which I'm so glad to know for the next time I flat out on the road:

1) Be sure ALL of the air is out of the tube, or getting the tire off will be nearly impossible.  Once the tube is completely flat, it's not hard at all. 

2) If the valve in the tube stem seems loose and broken and won't allow air into the tube, don't worry - you didn't break it.  It's supposed to be loose like that when there's no pressure in the tube.  Just push the stem into your pump as far as you can, and the valve will open up allowing air to flow into the tube.

I would also like to report that the Park Tool Chain Gang Cleaning Kit (which I purchased from is great!
The chain cleaning tool itself is very easy to use.  You just clip the top piece off, pour some degreaser in the bottom, lay your chain over the brushes and clip the top back on.  Then just hold it with one hand and turn the pedals with the other.

It really gets the grease and gunk off the chain and doesn't splatter all over the place.  If your chain is really dirty, I'd recommend changing out the degreaser and running the chain through a second time.

This process also got enough degreaser on the chainrings to just lightly scrub them off with the brush.  I used the brush to scrub the derailleurs and the cassette, too.

Finally, I really liked the Citrus ChainBright degreaser.  It cleaned my drivetrain well, it smelled nice, it wasn't hard on my hands, it won't hurt plastic or rubber parts and it's biodegradable.

So overall, I highly recommend the kit.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Intensity Swim + Run
Swam 4x25 warmup, 8x25 sprints and 12x50 threshold (total 900 yards).
Ran 30 minutes in unseasonably lovely 74 degree F weather (approx. 3.25 miles)!


  1. I got a Zoot sleevless. I am borderline on the women's sizing of their wetsuits, so I needed a men's short. 1) Zoot is one of the few who carried "short" lengths. 2) Zappo's was the only place that had one in stock! I have a full, long-sleeve, but it's been uncomfortable in the water... can't seem to extend my arm all the way. Thought I would try a sleeveless. I have a sleeveless Xterra Vortex 3 coming as well. I have to decide which one I want to keep -- Domestic Financial Officer says "No" to keeping both. LOL

  2. Thanks for the recommendation! I bought the Park Cleaning Kit and wrote about it in a post today.

  3. Hello there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this web site before but after looking at a few of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m certainly delighted I found it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back often!