A frustrating week.

Now, I absolutely KNOW that there will be tens of thousands of people out there who’ve had a far worse week than me. The family and friends of the soldier murdered in London for a start! However, in my own little world of biking it’s been a pretty bad week…

Allow me to indulge!

Sunday, I was washing the bike when I noticed a slight leak in the rear tyre. Closer inspection revealed a nail embedded in the tyre. Not the end of the world, since it was repairable, and just as well too as that tyre is only a few months old and has lots of life left in it! So, knowing that needed done, but assuming I couldn’t do anything about it there and then, I moved onto the rear brake. I knew the pads were getting low, so it was high time they were changed.

The caliper came off no problem, but the pad retaining pins just would NOT budge. Well and truly corroded in place. Bum. So, only way I could see to get at them was to remove the caliper completely, split it, and get much better access to the pins that way. So, with the caliper off and the two bolts holding it together came out easy enough, but what’s this? The pins are stuck so tight the caliper still won’t split!

It was time to come inside and sort dinner, so while that was cooking I texted a bike mechanic local(ish) to me about the puncture. Not a problem says he, bring the wheel round tonight, and I’ll have it back to you Monday night. Result!

So, after feeding the family it was time to whip the rear wheel off and take it out to him. While I was there I asked for advice on getting the caliper split – only took him 2 minutes! Have to say, the bench vice he’s using is a damn sight better than the ancient thing gracing my garage. So, with the tyre away for repair, and the caliper now split I could start cleaning up the various bits of it.

The retaining pins were covered in a fair old amount of corrosion. I ended up putting them in the electric drill to spin them while I gently held fine emery paper against them. That worked. I had a new set of seals, bleed screws and covers to fit to the caliper, so they went in and I rebuilt the caliper, all bright and shiny, and made sure the retaining pins had plenty of grease where they went into the caliper!

Back to work Monday, by train, not bike. Boo Hiss. Best blasted biking weather for about 8 months and I’m stuck on a train!!! Grrrrr. On the way home I got a very apologetic text – tyre repair had to wait until Tuesday – workshop simply too busy. Oh well. Another day on the train and another exorbitant train fair.

Tuesday the news was better – the tyre was dropped off to me while I had my youngest down at swim club. A tenner for a professional puncture repair- can’t fault that!

So Tuesday evening saw me back at the bike. Wheel on, chain tension sorted. Time to put the brake caliper back on. That went smoothly, until while I was bleeding the caliper, the front bleed screw was still weeping fluid when it was closed.. hmm, tighten a wee bit.. still weeping…. tighten a bit more…. still weeping. Odd. Still, doesn’t feel too tight, maybe I’m being too cautious with it.. tighten a bit more.. BANG! What was that??? Have I broken the new bleed screw? Is part of it stuck in there? Hmm. Undid and removed the screw – looked fine – hard to see what’s going on with the caliper for all the glistening brake fluid now flowing freely out of it…

Closer inspection revealed a massive crack around the pillar that houses the bleed screw. Balls. That’s the caliper knackered.

At this point I felt like screaming. Instead I packed it all up and put the bike and all the tools away in the garage and went inside to pour a stiff drink and start searching for a replacement caliper.. None on ebay. None! Not quite what I was expecting. Did find an online retailer that could supply a new one – but at a stupid price – £365!!!! I emailed some local bike breakers, and some not so local…. I also texted the mechanic that had done my tyre repair. Nip over tomorrow he said – he just might have a spare one that’d fit… intriguing…

Wednesday dawned sunny and hot (by Scottish standards anyway) and once again it was the train for me. Through the day I gradually got the email queries responded to – short answer, no, no-one had a caliper from a similar bike. So it was either going to be a brand new and ridiculously expensive one, or one from a different bike, with a few adaptations needed. Seems that the rear caliper from a GSXR 600 SRAM K1 to K3 model will fit, although the torque arm connection needs a bit of thought.

Wednesday evening I took my knackered caliper back off the bike and took it over to the mechanic chap – lo and behold, the caliper he had was an almost perfect match! The only issue was the state of it – the bolts clamping the two halves together were rounded off and wouldn’t budge. I left it with him to get the old bolts out, and give the caliper a cleanup. I took my knackered caliper home and stripped out the new seals.

Thursday evening the replacement caliper was dropped off to me – a mere £25 for the caliper and his time to clean it up – bargain! Especially considering what a lovely job he did of cleaning it up!

I built up the new caliper, with seals from the old caliper, and one original bleed screw, and one new one (not the one I’d dumped). There was a slight delay while I found something to pack the torque arm bolt with – it was a bit loose in the caliper fitting – a piece of beer gas line went in as a temporary fix until I find a better solution.

Attaching the brake line was easy enough, although persuading the connection to seal properly wasn’t so easy. Despite new copper washers on the banjo bolt it kept seeping fluid.. and of course I was scared to rump it up too tight! Eventually though it was sealed and the brake pedal felt nice and firm. I cleaned it all up, made sure the bleed screws were just tight enough and no more – and finally, my beloved ZZR was whole again!!

There. See, not really a BAD week, although all those train rides felt pretty bleak – why can’t people chew with their mouth CLOSED in a public place?? I really do NOT want to hear you masticating your pack of crisps!

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