i finally changed out the shifter cables on the trek 850. shifter cables are more difficult to replace because they require threading through the shifter assemblies on the the handlebar. the 850 uses shimano's alivio shifters, which i've never worked with before (although to be fair, i've only worked on one other indexed shifters before (grip shifters), on the trek 800).
i moved the bike indoors, just to stay out the rain. i had the foresight to turn it upside down first outside, and all this rusty water poured out of the empty seat post. glad i didn't find out the hard way inside all over the kitchen carpet!
i started with the rear shifter first. taking apart the alivio shifter assembly was actually kind of easy, just unscrew the bolt and pop open the casing. the old shifter cable isn't looped in some weird way (like in the grip shifters), it just sits in a little notch. everything was going fine until i went to clean the segment of cable housing near the rear derailleur. i couldn't pass through an old length of shifter cable, and it actually stripped the cable when i tried to push it with some more force. there's something funky with that housing and it needed to be replaced.
i was going to run down to the bike shop, but then i rummaged through my box of old cables and found a length of indexed shifter housing and a pair of cable ferrules. i cut it to length with a dremel tool. they sell specialized bike cable cutters for $25, but a dremel works just as well. maybe it's not as fast but what it lacks in efficiency it makes up for in sparks. (i'll have to try and get a photo of that one of these days.)
i put the rear shifter on slackest number and moved the chain to the smallest cog on the cassette to adjust the derailleur jockey position. next i shifted to the tightest setting and moved the chain to the largest cog to make sure the chain wouldn't come off. rear shifter cable replaced!
the front shifter cable (left) was easier to replace after gaining that experience replacing the rear cable.
the trek 850 is now entirely working. i didn't take it out for a test ride because it was raining but i'll do that once the weather clears up. it's a great bike but i think it may actually be too small for me. i tried to raising the handlebar, but it can only come so far. i have to ride it leaning forward a little bit, which some people like, but i prefer a more straight-back upright riding position, just because it feels more relaxed and it's what i'm used to. still, the 850 is the lightest bike i own, and it's a good if i want to ride fast (although i'm still looking for a dedicated road bike, one with a downward handlebar and 700c wheels).
the rest of the day was spent waiting for my 6:00 appointment to pick up the schwinn gateway city bike. the seller lives between inman and central square so i decided to talk it, figuring i would then ride the bike home. it's actually not too far, just a 25 minute walk, about roughly the same walking distance from my house to davis square. i wore my flip flops because of the rain, but i immediately regretted my decision because they're not really that comfortable and they make a squishy squeaking sound with every step. despite inferior footwear, i still managed to get to there too early. so to kill time i walked around the block.
the seller turned out to be an attractive young chinese woman from jiangsu, wearing a baby doll t-shirt and short shorts. there was a bike inside her apartment which she told me belonged to her husband. they were both busy packing and the place looked deserted. she grabbed the key for the bike lock and i followed her as she hopped down 3 flights of stairs. the bike looked okay. there was rust on all the chrome parts (fenders, handlebar, seatpost, rear rack) but no rust on the frame, except for a few scratches on the forks. the cassette was pretty rust, and the chain looked to be stuck but i jiggled it loose. she told me one perspective buyer got in touch with her again, upping the price to $110. because she was so busy, she didn't have a change to test ride the bike to make sure it was in working order. i said it was okay, and paid her $80 for the bike, and another $4 for the tail light i promised i'd buy. she went upstairs to get it. it turned out to be some crappy light that i could probably pick up at a dollar store. i said i didn't need the milk crate nor the bike bell (both items she was selling for $3 each) but she told me i could have it for free (they would've been hard to remove anyway).
the tires were a little soft but fortunately i came prepared and brought along my tire pump. the chain still felt a little weird, but i figured that was the rust and would loosen on its own after i began riding. i just love the feel of north road handlebars. they handle much better. the excitement of my inaugural ride on the gateway city bike was short-lived however: less than 2 blocks away i suddenly couldn't pedal anymore. the problem: the chain had slipped off the smallest cog and was stuck between the frame and the cassette. i pulled over by the side of the road and tried to pull free the chain (getting grease and rust all over my hands) but it wouldn't budge. bugger. i weighed my options and decided i had no other choice but to just walk the bike home, since at least the wheels were turning (just couldn't pedal).
when i finally got home i pushed the bike onto my backyard porch so i could inspect it more carefully and clean it up a bit. first thing i had to do was loosen that chain. without the pressure of working on the side of the road, i quickly managed to pull free the chain. as for the cosmetic rust on the chrome, nothing but a little WD-40 and fine steel wool will clean that up like new.
i cleaned the bike until almost 8:00, when i couldn't see anymore. the chain is still sticking. i fixed it a bit by releasing the rear brakes (they were rubbing up against the rim) but i can only get it to catch on 3 cogs out of the 7 speeds. i'll take a better look at it tomorrow. i'm dying to fix it up so i can give it a decent test ride (farther than 2 blocks this time). i'm still not sure how this bike performs.
the gateway city bike is only sold at target ($200). the schwinn website doesn't even list it in their catalog, like an unwanted child. the closest thing to it is the schwinn wayfarer 7 speed. actually, it looks like the exact same bike, just a different color. the wayfarer is cheaper too, listed at $180 (although on amazon it sells for $190 with free shipping). 7 speed is pretty much all you really need for riding. i have 21 speed on my trek 800, but i usually just ride it using the 7 speed on the rear cassette and the middle chainring. sometimes when i'm going up a steep hill i might put it on the smaller chainring. i never use the larger chainring.
since i once again opted not to do a grocery run, i just had canned soup for dinner, chicken corn this time. i watched the season premiere of USA network's new series suits. even though i usually hate lawyer shows (and doctor shows) it's actually pretty good, something different in a sea of sameness.
bram mysteriously left the house sometime after 10:00. we've developed a shorthand so that we no longer need to even speak to each other. he gave me a courtesy wave and went out the door. but not before he tore a new portal to hell in the bathroom. i didn't notice it at first, but then the stench grew so strong i got a little afraid and went to investigate. i won't go into details but tonight a hate crime was committed in el baño.