Warning: This post contains potentially toxic levels of bike jargon.
So today I decided to do some bike maintenance. First on the list was installing my new taillight. It turns out that my seat post is somewhat larger in diameter than most seat posts, so I have a hard time with clamps that are manufactured for the standard width. Fortunately, they had also included a clamp that attaches to your seat stay (the piece that makes the top side of the back triangle of the bike frame).
Next order of business was fiddling with the front derailleur. It had been rubbing excessively in second and 7 and 8, which kinda annoyed me, and it was sluggish shifting into third. I figured that either I'd have to adjust the high limit screw or tighten the cable. Upon inspection, it turned out that the high limit screw was just about as far out as it gets, so I had to adjust the cable. This is somewhat difficult. The derailleur has a very strong spring that pulls it in, so you have to wedge it out until you get the cable tight. I ended up enlisting the help of my dad for this step, because I didn't get it tightened enough the first time by myself. Now it's a lot better - it only rubs a little in second and eight, and is much less sluggish on the upshift.
My back wheel has been making a sound like the brakes have been dragging, so I decided to make sure it was trued. It was a little out of true, but not badly, and it continued to squeal a little even after I trued it. I imagine the brake pads might be a little toed in or something.
This brings us to the chain. I've been having problems with it skipping every once in a while. I thought it might be a stuck link, so I cranked it backwards, watching for the jockey wheels to jump. It wasn't that, so I decided to clean it a little and see if that would solve the problem. Now, even though my chain has a SRAM master link, which is supposedly easy to open by hand, I couldn't get the dang thing open. I again ended up enlisting the help of my dad, who (unsurprisingly, if you know him) promptly managed to break it. Oh well, you can buy a new master link for a lot cheaper than a whole new chain, so I decided to throw it in some solvent anyway and get it clean.
The cool way to do this is to put the chain in a water bottle, add enough solvent to cover the chain, and shake it all up. This way, the solvent can get in all the nooks and crannies and really get the sludge out. I shook it around, fished it out with a piece of bent wire, and discovered that under the gunk, it was actually rather rusty. Nice.
Flash back to about three, four months ago when I had my bike in for some repairs. My chainrings were pretty worn and my cassette was shot, so I asked them to replace my chain too. It had sat outside with snow on it for about six weeks the previous Christmas, and had gotten a little rusty. They called me back a couple of days later and informed me that they would have to make the more expensive of the repair options we had discussed, but told me that my chain was still good after a good clean'n'lube. I was dubious, but let it slide, because it would save me twenty bucks.
So anyway, yeah, it was pretty dang rusty. And once I held it up straight, I noticed that one of the links was actually twisted, close to an eighth of a turn. No wonder it's been skipping.
I guess my bike has been listening to a little too much Erasure.