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Monday, May 28, 2007

DIAGNOSIS: SEIZED BACK BRAKE ON LADY'S BIKE

This ever happen to you? You squeeze the rear brake lever on your nice woman's frame bike to find out that absolutely nothing moves! You check everything, the cable routing, the lever, the pads. Everything is OK, where and how it should be. Yet you are perplexed at the fact that nothing wants to move so that the rear wheel can come to a stop. The culprit hides it's ugly face deep inside the cable housing, corrupting that seemingly perfect and healthy looking rear brake cable. Yes, rust has decided to dwell inside and has fused the cable and housing together. No amount of oil will solve this problem permanently. When rust decides to elect domicile inside a cable housing, it becomes as difficult to get rid off as a colony of cockroaches. You will have to trash the cable and that part of the housing to regain full enjoyment and use of your rear brakes.


The cause of this problem is very simple. The step through frame usually has a lower cable routing that goes underneath the brake caliper. This exposes an opening to the elements and water can seep in. May it be a casual ride in the rain or the bike being stored outdoors, the water will sit there and create rust that will weld the cable and housing in one single piece of rust. To prevent this, insert a few drops of oil down the housing at the same place the water gets in or cap it off with a dab of grease or do both. Do this once a season or more if the bike is exposed to rain on a regular basis.

Some of you have asked me why does a woman's bike have a lower top tube. It would seem more logical that this would be more practical for men! We have to go back in history to find out why. Back in the late 19th century when the safety bicycle (that's the name for the current rear chain driven wheel bike design) was invented, women rode their bikes with big skirts and dresses. This was not an option for the ladies of the time, it was the everyday dress code. It was very unladylike to throw a leg over the back wheel to mount and a dress over a top bar would have been just as bad. So bike designers of the time solved this problem by making the step through frame. To this day, for some odd reason, most bikes for women are still made that way. But a real woman's frame is one built to accommodate their shorter torso and longer legs compared to the men's frame. Ask your local bike shop about a real woman's bike. If they are any good, they should know what you're talking about.

Til next time ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry

7 comments:

Andy said...

This is a neat site. Good job on illustrating with pictures, makes things easier and I don't always know the English words for certain parts.

BTW, I ride an old Peugeot 10-speed sports bike, 70's or 80's, I dunno.

Forward said...

A way to prevent such a bad thing is always use stainless cables. Stainless cable charges a little higher but it last for a long time!

Gerry Lauzon said...

Thank you for the comment Andy. Those old Peugeots never die. Forward, you are right but I wonder if the steel lining inside the cable housing won't affect the stainless cable as well? That lump of rust from the lining might still cause a blockage, my 2 cents.

Gerry

Anonymous said...

Hi, I recently bought a 2nd hand bicycle which had a chain that wasn't long enough to engage all the gears. I had a new chain fitted at a shop and the crank now doesn't feel resistance on certain gears. Is the chain to long now?

Gerry Lauzon said...

I don't have enough information for a proper diagnosis. I would strongly suggest that you return where you had the new chain fitted in order for them to figure it out for you.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your advice...recently got a ladies bike to fix up for wife n have this problem...have been trying to free the cable for days...best i just buy a new cable n keep it oiled. Thank you.

Gerry Lauzon said...

A classic problem and fix. Glad I could light your lantern.

Gerry :)