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Things you don’t notice. Until you do!

Emoticon courtesy of vectorstock.com

To many cyclists, “bicycle parts” means components like bars, saddles, cassettes, chainrings and wheels. Small parts do not tend to come to mind. Until something goes wrong with one.

Cable end caps are a good example. These ferrules are usually aluminium and crimped into place over the ends of shifter and brake cables. Their purpose is to keep the individual wires that make up a cable from fraying. Frayed cables can impair shifting and braking performance. The sharp wires can also give a cyclist a nasty scratch.

Cable end caps can add a little extra flair to your ride. Cable ends caps come in a multitude of colours to match any paint scheme.

Cable end caps rarely fall off. One may get knocked off in a crash. Not having cable end caps installed is more likely the fault of an inattentive mechanic who forgot to crimp them on after replacing cables.

Photograph courtesy of wolftoothcomponents.com

Bar-end plugs fit into the open ends of handlebars. These plugs are installed to prevent serious injury in the case of a fall. Open-ended handlebars can puncture the abdomen in a crash, with deadly results.

Bar-end plugs fix the ends of bar tape to the bar. Bar-end plugs are usually replaced every time new bar tape is installed. Cheaper bar tape usually comes with friction fit plugs. These are held in place by a series of ribs.

Friction fit plugs can be dislodged when bars rub against something. For example, when bikes are moved into and out of car boots.

More expensive bar tapes come with expanding plugs. These are locked into place by tightening the screw on the face of the plugs. This makes them more secure.

Custom bar-end plugs are available in many colours and with any graphic imaginable to personalise your ride.

Photograph courtesy of mtbdirct.com.au

You could ride with frayed cables and no bar-end plugs. You wouldn’t want to cycle far without at last one bottle of water or other drink on your bike. Bottle cages are held onto the bike by M5 bolts. These are 5 mm in diameter.

These bolts do loosen over time, so they are worth checking occasionally. You will probably notice a loose bottle cage mid-ride. Hopefully, before one or more bolts have fallen out.

Loose or missing bottle cage bolts won’t hurt you. The rattling may bother you, though. As might carrying a bidon in your jersey pocket if a bottle cage falls off.

Bottle cages do not come with bolts. The M5 bolts are usually pre-installed when you buy a frame.

Bottle cage bolts can be another source of bling. They come in many colours and bolt head shapes. There are even Ti versions for the weight-obsessed.

Photograph courtesy of sram.com

Finding replacement cable end caps, bar-end plugs, and bottle cage bolts is easy. Much more difficult to replace are the quick-release levers on SRAM Red Aero Link brakes. These levers open the brake calipers, so the wheel can be removed. I gave no thought to these levers until I snapped one in a crash.

I needed a replacement because that brake caliper was almost impossible to open without the lever.

A brake quick-release lever comes in a set identified as SRAM part number 11.5118.000.000. The set has all the parts needed to replace the barrel adjustment assembly. And impossible to find in Malaysia. To my eternal gratitude, my good friend HCP was able to get a set from Taiwan.

The following two items on my list are not bicycle parts per se. They are parts of accessories essential to me, though.

This is the Garmin Varia 500 front light. It put out up to 600 lumens and was controllable by my Garmin Edge bike computer. I was happy with this light until a design flaw came to light (I couldn’t resist!)

The on/off switch was covered with a rubbery material that deteriorated over time. Once that cracked off, it became difficult to turn the light on and off. My light was, Sod’s Law, out of warranty and discontinued. Not that it mattered. The local Garmin distributor did not stock the replacement black case section.

I now use a Garmin UT800. This light puts out up to 800 lumens, is controlled from my Garmin Edge, and has a redesigned on/off switch, which looks much more robust.

More bad press for Garmin. I have not experienced this failure – yet – but it has happened to a friend. One or both of the tabs on the back of the Edge 100 and Edge 1030 cycling computers can snap off. These tabs engage with the notches on the bike mount and lock the device into place. If a tab snaps during a ride, an expensive cycling computer can fall and be damaged or lost.

Fortunately this is a part the can be replaced by the local distributor.

Photograph courtesy of roadbikeaction.com

Back to SRAM for my last entry. I like their electronic Red eTap shifting system a lot. Including the convenience of easily swappable batteries.

Those batteries have a tab that fits into a slot on each derailleur body. A latch at the top then snaps into place to lock the battery onto the derailleur body.

Until the tab on the battery snaps, as has happened to me. I suspect this happens because of a combination of the plastic becoming brittle and not lifting the tab clear of the slot before tilting the battery away from the derailleur.

These are not ride-ending issues like a snapped derailleur hanger or a cracked rim is. Nevertheless, they are annoying when they happen.

You may have heard the phrase, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” In this case, the small stuff may make you sweat.

Emoticon courtesy of vectorstock.com

About alchemyrider

I left Malaysia in 2008 as a non-cyclist. I am back home now with three road bikes and all the paraphernalia that goes with being addicted to cycling.

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