Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bike trouble

My bike had been making some funny noises right from the start, but I had always attributed that to non-oiled pedals and after my bike trip through Europe they had eventually stopped.

But the strange noises re-appeared while I was cycling through New Zealand and John's diagnosis was: bottom bracket. We went to a bike shop in New Zealand where they re-adjusted the bottom bracket due to the lack of a new one. I have to admit that they gave me the advice to change the bloody thing whilst in New Zealand, but the noise had disappeared and so I had decided to just continue. Big mistake!!!!

The noise came back in Japan and was worse than ever. And despite the fact that there are a lot of cyclists in Japan there are unfortunately no good bike shops. People here seem to buy crappy bikes and use them until they fall apart. Very rarely you see people on racing bikes and almost never you see Japanese people bike touring. So we had to discover that it is very difficult to buy Shimano parts in the land of Shimano.

After Hiroshima our next big town stop would be Kyoto - unfortunately there is more than a week of cycling in between these two places. The noises got worse and worse and worse..... and the climbs that put a lot of stress on the bottom bracket got steeper and steeper and steeper. On the very last climb before Kyoto it sounded like a dying person scratching his fingernails on a black board in his final death fight. The bottom bracket had come so loose that it was moving 2 cm - and that does not make cycling easy. Even John, who usually has an undeserved positive outlook on things suggested that I should better push the bike up the last climb.

But to my big surprise we made it into Kyoto - John, me AND the bike. And after inquiring in several bike shops we even found one that faintly resembled a German bike shop and even had spare parts - including a bottom bracket. The bike mechanic immediately started working. "It won't take more than 15 minutes.", said John, but how wrong he was.....

Extra tunnel for cyclists
Everything on the bike seemed to have broken. The mechanic could not get the cranks off, then he could not get the bottom bracket in (the old one was completely destroyed - how I even made it into Kyoto will always be a complete mystery to me) and then the light did not work any more. First I did not see any connection between a bottom bracket and the light, but then it dawned on John: The light cable went throught the frame and through the opening for the bottom bracket. By inserting the new one the mechanic had broken the light cable and now it took him forever to repair it. Considering the high price level in Japan I started sweating by now thinking of how much all this would cost. New bottom bracket plus 2 hours of work!!! I took a deep breath when they handed me the bill: 5.000 yen - that is not even 40 EUR! It turned out to be a very cheap bike repair and I haven't had any trouble with it after that.

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