Bearing up

Or more specifically, out. Which, again if we’re striving for any kind of semantic accuracy, was a right bastard. And a left bastard. Bastards all round really. Odd really since the Pyga has clearly been carefully designed to continueworking after the purchase transaction is completed*. There’s clever little design touches tucked away all over the frame – from neatcable routing solutions to delightfully thought out pivots and bearings. The covers of which are stencilled with the recommended torque setting – sadly merely code for the mechanical savages amongst us to lean on a long lever until muscles start to shake.

The main pivot bearings though must have skipped all of that design process nonsense – so while proper engineers rotated 3D FEA models searching for perfection, some lowly oik wieldedthe ‘bearing nuancing tool’** and twitted the bloody things into place. Which was absolutely fine until the frame was campaigned through a British Winter short of snow but long on rain, wet, damp, mud, rain, crud, rain, downpours and – if I’ve failed to get my point across, endless fucking rain. The bike didn’t requirea sealed bearing cover, it was much more in need of a twin and an arc.

All of which took a disastrous toll on a bearing pair located at mud-shit ground zero, and further abused by endless post ride hosing best thought of as ‘I know there’s a bike under there somewhere’. I probably left it too long because a) preventative maintenance is boring b) it looked hard to fix and c) how bad could it possibly be? Because of a) and b) c) was unsurprisingly ‘quite bad indeed‘ as discovered after removing the shock and finding the swing arm didn’t move much. And when it did, the noise and grittiness would – were it a human – suggest booking an emergency limb replacement.

It still looked hard to fix, so I handed it over to a proper engineer in the form of Matt and his ‘garage of ArchaeologicalSignificance‘*** My contribution was to buy some replacement bearings and remove bits of the bike in a Russian-Doll manner until the problem could be reached by a decent sized hammer. Which Matt wielded with much skill attempting to chase about a millionth of an millimetre’s worth of bearing race out of an entirely seized housing. Steel rusts fast in Aluminium and at one point, when we’d run the full gamut of tool selection, I wasconsidering explosives.

Eventually through careful but repeated twatting of fragile unobtaium, what was once a bearing flopped apologetically on the floor where it was immediately lost to the sawdust and oil monster. I cast about with no thought of personal danger as Matt explained we’d need to somehow reuse some of the remains. While he did stuff with files and vices way above my pay grade, I spent a happy half an hour whipping off bearing covers and filling them with what was allegedly some space age grease, but to the uninitiated had a far closer affinity to strawberry jam.

Some kind of home-brew bearing press was, er, pressed into action to carefully insert the strawberry spheroids which didn’t work at all. So instead Matt selected a hammer from his extensive range and careful swung from a great height to ensure a ‘tight interference fit’. My only job was to reassemble the bike from various parts now flung to all points in the workshop, and ensure important bolts were nipped up.

And then go ride. Which was placebo fantastic as I gushed to my riding buddy how stiff and buttery smooth the bike now felt. A phrase I came to reflect on with some chagrin later that evening on realising one of the shock bolts was held by a single thread and habit. Easy mistake to make I’m sure you’ll agree.

So that’s one bike fixed. Leaving only two cars with internet-diagnosed issues that I’vepretty much given up on before starting, leaving me to concentrate on the minor damage inflicted on the Mega when some funky cable routing appears to have eaten the swing arm. That one I’m good with – covered it with a sticker and pretended it hadn’t happened. The alternative is me attempting to fix it which would only make the situation catastrophically worse.

I’m going to have a beer instead.

* Contrary to intuition, this doesn’t represent best practice in Mountain Biking. Offset, bevelled bearings anyone? They should sell such bikes with a complementarysix week therapy course. And a special hammer.

** Hammer. Again.

** I keep expecting Time Team to turn up and find stuff long buried under where – in a normal garage – the floor might be.

2 thoughts on “Bearing up

  1. This is why I ‘don’t do’ full sussers. the word “sealed” and “bearing” appear to have different meanings in the mountain biking world, than to say…everywhere else in the known universe, hence the fewer there are of the things on my bike, the happier I am.

  2. There is something in that. Which is why I tend to ride the HT at least half way through the winter. I do like FS tho. They allow me to be lazy 😉 All the way through writing that, the song in my head was ‘Stuck In the Middle with you’ 🙂

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