After about 7 months, our bikes have seen a lot of wear. Some parts have made it, some have fallen apart. We’re taking advantage of the fact that Austin is such a great bicycling town and has many great bike shops.

New Wheels
We’ve replaced our wheels with new ones as a preventative measure after I managed to wear through my rear wheel in California’s gold country. We brought our bikes to FreeWheeling bikes, surrendered our wheels so they could reuse the hubs and rode off on loaner wheels. I had my hubs (XT, Shimano Dynamo) relaced to some Sun Rhyno Lites. Laura’s had hers relaced to a Mavic 319 in the rear and a Bontrager Maverick in the front (they didn’t have matching rims).

New Cassette
After doing some riding up some steep climbs, we decided to get a little lower gearing. Neither of our “big rings” have seen any action. When you’re carrying heavy loads like we are, your money is better spent on low low gears. We swapped out our cassettes with Shimano’s new 12-36 which the fine folks at The Peddler ordered for us. They were supposedly made for 29er mountain bikes and supposedly you’re suppose to use a special hub with it, but I think that’s all marketing voodoo (we’ll tell you in a month or so if you do.)

Other Parts

We both replaced the housing and cables on our bikes which has probably made the most noticeable performance change. We had ordered a new derailleur for Laura’s bike since it has had problems shifting into the granny. However, Ron, the mechanic at The Peddler took a look at her bike and swapped out the front DR housing and it worked like new (we returned the derailleur)!

I swapped my brakes out from Tektro 720 cantilevers to Deore V-brakes. I had never been really happy with the stopping performance with the canti’s. They felt squishy and were really fidgety to adjust. I originally used them because I didn’t think V’s would work with my wide fenders. However, when I saw that they would work, I decided to swap them the first chance I could. This required new brake levers that pulled enough cable to actuate the V’s. I installed Tektro’s V-brake levers and they work great! They have a much crisper feel than travel agents and (in my opinion) the Dia Compe V-brake levers. So far, there is a SIGNIFICANT increase in braking. I could never lock up my rear wheel unless I was in the drops with the canti’s but with the V’s I can do it from the top of the hoods.

Laura also bought a new multi-tool. She was adjusting some bolts when her Topeak tool shattered like glass in her hand. She replaced it with a Lezyne tool that has no plastic parts.

I’ve also swapped my rear tire for a Schwalbe Marathon Plus which is a little heavier to increase flat protection back there. I’m still running a Schwalbe Marathon in the front since and hope this combo works well.

After 7 months of carrying a lot of weight, we’ve really stressed the parts on our bikes. We’re probably a little abnormal in the amount of maintenance we have to do due to all the weight. We figured we’d make use of all the great bike resources in Austin while we were in town. We’ll be pushing off in a few weeks from Austin, fully rested with smooth riding steeds. We’re also swapping out our winter clothes (yay!) for some spring and summer clothes. Let us know if you have any other specific gear questions!