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Having spent the last part of the morning working on the rebuild of Ian’s bike I decided to make a mod to mine in the afternoon that I had been thinking about for some time.

This was to lower my handlebars a bit by removing the 2 spacers between the stem and headset, a total thickness of about 1.0 cm.  Quite a straight forward job but a bit daunting as you have to remove the forks and cut the steerer tube on the top of the forks.  Being carbon fibre its easy enough to cut with a hacksaw, it’s just that you have to get it right as there is no sticking it back on.

I measured how much-needed to come off and then made a mark around the tube with a pipe cutting tool.  Then came the cutting bit.  I made a shallow cut all the way round and then worked my way around cutting right through.  I cleaned, greased and reassembled the bottom bearing and slid the tube back up through the head tube of the frame and then did likewise with top bearing, cleaned, greased and reassembled.  It was a bit of a fiddle getting insert in the steerer tube that the stem screws down onto but I managed to make a secure job of it eventually.  I really should remember to make a note of what order parts come off in because sometimes things aren’t always as straightforward as you think they are going to be.  But all was well and it was looking good except….

I now decided that the gear cables needed shortening.  I had thought for some while that they were a bit too wide a loop from the bars to the downtube.  Now I had lowered the bars it was even more noticeable.  This should have been a straightforward job, just disconnecting the cables at the gears, withdrawing them back through the outer cables enough to be able to cut through outer cables and slipping the inner cables back through and reconnecting..

The complications being that I didn’t want to untape the handlebars so I did it in-situ.  I disconnected and withdrew the cables enough to make the cut on the outer without cutting the inner.  This was a bit tricky as I had to draw the cable back through the Ultegra levers and its not easy to get the cable head out with the bars on the bike as you can’t see properly what you are doing.  The next snag was cutting the outer.  The inside of the outer cable was not the more usual spiral steel but but straight wires going lengthwise on the cable and not easy to cut.  I have used a disc cutter to cut these cables in the past as it slices through them like a knife through butter.  However, I was only cutting off about 30mm and the cables were still attached.  I would normally have put the cable in a vice but  I had to hold the end of the cable I was cutting with one hand and the disc cutter with the other to cut it, good job health and safety were not around but I managed it safely.

Next the re-assembly.. easy you would think.. NO.. it should be but it wasn’t.. the cable to the front changer goes through a small flexible rubber tube fixed in the bottom bracket area of the frame and comes out just below the front mech.  So I pushed cable through the guide under the bottom bracket and then entered into this rubber tube.  However.. I was pushing it in one end and it wasnt coming out the other end!!!  s**t… it was coming out of the rubber tube inside the frame somehow, probably a split in the rubber.  I had to upend the bike on my workstand and remove the back wheel to gain proper access to it.  With a little bit of fiddling and lot of luck I managed to get the cable to emerge in the right place.. Just a matter now of connecting it to the front mech and checking the operation..

Did I say ‘just’ ?  The front lever would not budge the cable although the cable was free within the cable outers and the mech moved OK.  It appeared that cable end was not sitting in the seating within the Ultegra lever properly and preventing the lever from swivelling properly. Of course all the bits you need to see are underneath the lever and covered by the rubber lever cover.  I managed to get to see what the problem was after upending the bike on the workstand again.  I tackled the problem by freeing the cable from the other end, pushing it back through the lever mounting and then wiggling it with a needle type tool to guide it into  place properly.  There isn’t a lot of room inside those levers, especially when mounted and all cabled up.  I usually put all the cables in the levers before I mount them from new but this wasnt an option today.

Now it really was just a matter of setting up the gears again and all was well.. eventually..  definitely a case of  ‘if something can go wrong it will go wrong’

All is subject of course to a proper test ride tomorrow but it seemed ok when I just took it up the road and went through the gears.