Preparing a Tandem for the Andes and the Amazon 3

Good thing the Agriculture Dept. doesn't take apart bottom brackets when we return from these adventures

Bottom Bracket Dirt

You find the darndest things when you remove a bottom bracket from the frame sometimes. This is what we brought home from Tibet and Southeast Asia. No matter how much grease you use, eventually dirt and grit find their way into your frame. We’ve brought home teaspoons of soil from Australia, Asia twice, and I’m sure we’ll bring some back from South America. If we could just stick to nice paved roads we wouldn’t have this problem, and not so much fun either.

I have corrosive sweat!

Do You Have Corrosive Sweat?

Above is another good reason to take your bike completely apart between tours. After our Silk Road trip, I noticed some corrosion when I replaced the handlebar tape. It didn’t look too bad, so I just replaced the tape before going on our Shangri-La tour of Tibet and SE Asia. I guess the heat and humidity of SE Asia, combined with my corrosive sweat, really did a number on the bars. This time I was able to flake large pieces of soft aluminum from the bar, and even poked a hole all the way through with a knife. The bar would probably have broken somewhere in the Amazon Basin, if not sooner. New bars, and replacements for worn out brake levers on the way.

1.25" headset on Cannondale tandem

Can You Rebuild A Headset?

Even though the headset felt great, I dropped (pounded) the fork out and disassembled the headset. Guess what? The bottom set of bearing cages dropped several bearings on the ground. The races looked good, and the bearings smooth, but obviously the bearings were worn a bit. Phil at Pima Street gave me a few bearings. After cleaning the cages and races I pressed new bearings into the cages and crimped the cages a bit. Now they all stay in place, and I’m good to go for a few thousand more miles, after liberal application of some quality grease I got from Steve Wilson Jr.

I could let someone I know and trust do all this, probably quicker, possibly better, but I think it’s important for me to┬áre-familiarize myself with every part of Zippy. Who knows, I might have to go through a street mechanic’s inventory of loose bearings somewhere in Tibet or the Amazon, and put the thing back together sitting cross legged in the dust. I want to be able to look like I know what I’m doing! It’s a man thing.

We have our tickets! No turning back now.


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