This year I made a point of buying the tools I needed and fixing my bike up completely by myself. Allegedly to save money.
I knew that the shifting needed to be tuned, but more significantly the rear wheel was bent. My chain had already broken twice at the end of last season, so that was on the replacement list. Examining the teeth on my cogs though, they seemed. (Not a surprise, I was terrible with maintenance on this bike so the chain aged considerably faster.) Once I got started, I discovered that the rear-derailleur hanger and the derailleur itself were bent.
Determined to make up for past transgressions in maintenance, I started with a $140 stand from MEC. I’m glad I chose it over the $180 version, it’s plenty tall enough, sturdy, looks nice (in person) and quite easy to store (it becomes compact, though still fairly tall). I can’t believe I’ve gone so long without a stand, it makes all other maintenance tasks so much easier: no more cussing and frustration when the upside down bike topples over. As well, much easier access to the derailleur limit screws.
I then spent $40 at Canadian Tire on car wash detergent, sponges, brushes, rags, steel-wool, grease and touch-up paint and followed these guides and washed three years of crap out of it … in my living room. My building doesn’t really have any kind of facilities or place for doing this kind of thing. I did the wheels in Heather’s bathtub. To my credit, she was only suspicious because the tub was scrubbed cleaner than it was. I expect to be doing this in friends’ driveways once it’s nicer out.
Anyway, though I had to be careful with dripping, I was surprised at how easy it was, and how shiny and new even the cogs looked after I was done. While I had several gouges in my frame, no rust had formed thankfully. I sealed them up again with touch-up paint. I just discarded the chain.
I used this $80 stand to true the rear wheel. This was surprisingly quick and straight-forward. I’m pretty sure the reason everything was bent in the first place was because of my building’s terrible storage situation where I’m required to keep my bike in a bike-rack in a packed communal room. I’m pretty sure the derailleur and wheel got bent from my lovely neighbours shoving my bike out of the way. I figure I’ll have to fix the wheel somewhat often. I need to write the building management and try to figure out some better solution.
Other expenses at this point were $15 on a chain and $5 on a degreaser from MEC.
As I started tuning the bike following these guides, I discovered that the entire rear-derailleur system was bent. The hanger and the derailleur itself. Shifting to the lowest gear would actually insert the derailleur into my wheel. As well, the lower jockey wheel (the little gears that pick up chain slack) was seized unless I unscrewed it’s bolt a bit. After consulting some sources, I decided that I was best taking this to the shop, that I wasn’t going to buy the $50 tool for repairing the hanger myself.
It turned out to be a $4 part and $9 of labour at Curbside Cycles. I asked about the mangled looking derailleur and seized-if-I-tighten-it jockey wheel, but was told it was supposed to be like that. Righto. My bike was otherwise functioning great until my second ride to work, where the rear derailleur completely fell apart and launched the jockey wheel somewhere into traffic. Shit.
$70 (inc. tax) later for a new derailleur at Sweet Pete’s, shockingly easy to install myself. I did struggle to finally get it perfectly in tune, but it just came down to yanking the cabling through it with enough strength.
The bike now works possibly even better than when it was new.
Last weekend I also added $30 fenders from MEC. BUT THAT’S IT.
So that works out to about $430 tax-in. I’m looking at 5 months of biking almost every single day to work to break even at the end of August. Obviously I save more for any extra trips. The tools I acquired should also last forever so I’ll be ahead of the game in all future years. Even the consumables will last a long time.
2011/03/30 edit: I had a stupid accident with my helmet (not while wearing it), though really it was due for replacement anyway. Another $70. Lost a winter glove at a party and the mornings are still too cold to ride with bare hands. $50 for cool-weather biking gloves. $136 together with tax for a new grand total of $566 to recoup.