How to Repair Your Brand New Bike

06.14.2010 | 11:30 am

A “We Won!” Note from Fatty: Congratulations to Team Fatty-Seattle on winning both the Team Champion and Team Time Trial awards! This means our team raised more money ($71,398 as of this moment) than any other team, and that our fifth-ranked fundraiser raised more money than any other team’s fifth-ranked fundraiser.

Extra-huge kudos go to Team Fatty-Seattle co-captain “ClydeSteve” Steven Peterson, who raised $15,735 while still finding time to manage the team. ClydeSteve, thanks for working so hard and consistently in this fight. You’re an inspiration.

A “Don’t Forget to Join the Fight and (Hopefully) Win a Bike” Note from Fatty: With the Seattle LiveStrong Challenge in the bag, let’s turn our sights toward San Jose. The contest for the SyCip hand-built bike, tricked out with Shimano and PRO components, is still going strong. Read here for details on the bike, then click here to donate for a chance at the bike. The contest ends this Thursday, so donate now!

The FattyFly SS Is Go

I’m very happy to report that my FattyFly SS (which I affectionately refer to as the “FFSS”) has been built. I’m even happier to report that the FFSS weighs in at 17.6 pounds (or, for those of you who use metric measurements, 1.257 stone).

I of course wanted to get out on a ride on this bike as soon as possible, which I did on June 10. Brad met me at the saddle on Corner Canyon, where he pointed out that I have waaaay crossed the line of excessive color coordination, then graciously took this photo of me and FFSS:


Six pounds (0.428 stone),” Brad kept saying. “That’s how much less your singlespeed weighs than mine.

Of course, I have around 12 pounds of blubber that Brad doesn’t have, which explains why he still kicked my butt on all the climbs.

Enough Rain Already

And then it started to rain. Not during the ride, but afterward. And for pretty much every moment since. It’s been unseasonably cold and rainy here in Utah County, making mountain bike rides few and far between.

Seattle, you know I love you, but you can have your weather back.

Looking at the forecast for the weekend (rain, followed by more rain, followed by thunderstorms), The Runner and I agreed: we needed to get out of town. Moab would have been nice, except for one problem:


How about St. George? high of 83 with only a slight chance of rain? Sold.

So Saturday afternoon — after successfully marrying off The Runner’s eldest son (whom I have not yet nicknamed in this blog and so shall heretofore be referred to as “Travis”), The Runner and I headed out to St. George, where we’d meet up with Kenny and Heather for a day in the sun.

201006141118.jpg Ride 1

The original plan was for us to get in a good long mountain bike ride, since all four of us are going to be racing in Leadville in a couple months. Kenny proposed a Hurricane Rim / Gem / Goolds (sp?) loop, which should take about five hours, and which sounded great.

There was just one problem, which we heard about when we stopped at the bike shop where Dave Nice works: it had been raining in St. George, too, and part of the trail we wanted to ride would be a sloppy mess.

So Dave volunteered to take us out to and be our tour guide at Rockville Bench, a twisty mix of desert singletrack and slickrock.

Which made a fantastic place for me to show off my Dicky’s Death March jersey, which I obtained from the super-secret T6 Dark section of Twin Six’s site, and which I am pleased to say makes me look both handsome and slim:

(photo by Dave Nice)

I wear this jersey whenever I want to seem as cool as Rich Dillen. Which is to say, almost always.

Did I love riding in the warm sun? Yes I did. Did I love my new bike? Yes I did.

Ride 2

After dropping Dave back off at the shop, we headed out for another ride — this time on Hurricane Rim.

The first part of this all-desert singletrack ride is climby, with some steep, technical switchbacks that are not easy at all to do on a singlespeed.

I say that, of course, as a pre-excuse for what comes next. Namely, that I fell as I tried to grind up one of those switchbacks.

Just fell over on my side. Graceful as a sack of spuds.

After falling, I quickly executed my standard post-fall procedure:

  1. Look around to see who saw me fall, so I can adapt my hilarious excuse / explanation to their particular sense of humor (I’m a full-service excuse maker). In this case, it was just Kenny, and he’s already heard my best stuff, so there was no point in saying anything but “Ow.” Which I did, and with conviction.
  2. Extricate myself from the bike. This was not that easy, since the foot that was still clipped in was under the bike, and the bike was uphill from me. So I utilized the “thrash around like a landed fish” technique of getting away from the bike.
  3. Get up and continue riding.

It was step 3 that was a problem; there was something wrong with my bike. Here, take a look at this photo and tell me if you can see what is amiss:


If your answer was “white grips on mountain bikes get dirty very quickly,” you are correct, but that’s not really the problem I was thinking of.

The problem I was thinking of is that my front brake mount had snapped. Broken.

Kenny and I then made a brilliant field repair:


(photo by Heather Gilbert)

Really, the only thing wrong with this repair was . . . it didn’t work. Specifically, the brake stayed in place as long as you didn’t touch the brake lever.

So I strapped the brake lever to the downtube instead, figuring that the front brake is redundant anyways.

Situations In Which a Front Brake is Not Redundant

And for the climbs, I was just fine without a front brake. In fact, I’d go so far to say that when you’re climbing, applying the brake feels counterproductive.

And when you are going in a straight line downhill at a moderate pace? Having nothing but a back brake is plenty.

But imagine — just imagine — you’re heading fast downhill into a hairpin turn. First, you reach for your front brake, as is your habit. For the fiftieth time that day, you quickly realize there’s nothing to grab there. So you apply the back brake, which is fine.

And you keep going.

For the first time ever, you realize there’s quite a bit of truth in that axiom about 70% of your stopping power being in your front brake, what with you slowing down at roughly 30% the rate you usually do.

“Oh look, there’s the apex of the hairpin,” you say to yourself, as you slide right by it.

(Note to Hurricane trail maintenance people: sorry I left skid marks going right through pretty much all of your hairpin turns yesterday.)

Looking Forward

The thing is, even a (very expensive) repair is worth its cost when you get to spend a day in the sun riding your mountain bike, when you would have otherwise been trapped indoors in the rain.

But now I’ve got to figure out what to do with this broke brake. I am considering the following options:

  • Call Racer’s and tell him what happened. This is the obvious solution, and will result in him ordering me a new brake body, which will cost approximately “a lot.”
  • Call Racer’s and tell him it was a JRA break. “So I was just braking, and — *snap*! — the brake mount just pops off. This was obviously a lemon, Racer. See if you can warranty it.” The beauty of this excuse, of course, is that Racer will never have heard it before.
  • Repair it myself. You know, I think I could epoxy the mount back together. And then maybe I could use some superglue to reinforce it. And then some duct tape, just to be sure. A couple rivets wouldn’t hurt either. Then I’ll wrap the whole thing in velcro.

Oh, and I’d love to have your repair suggestions as well.

PS: Obligatory group photo!



  1. Comment by centurion | 06.14.2010 | 11:45 am

    Be honest, fess up to Racer, just tell him; ” You’re not gonna believe what happened. I let The Runner try my new bike, she fell and broke the lever.” Your still on the hook for the price of a new lever, but your reputation as an ace bike rider is protected. And that is what is important. And maybe he will feel sorry for her, and cut you a break on the price.

  2. Comment by Ethan | 06.14.2010 | 11:48 am

    IM St. George was a huge accomplishment but leaving your number on your helmet seems a bit much.

    Glad you got out in the sun!

    I always leave the numbers on my helmet. This one is just more obvious because it’s on the front, per race instructions. – FC

  3. Comment by Eric L | 06.14.2010 | 11:48 am

    Twelve pounds of blubber Elden? Must be whale blubber or something. You’re looking pretty lean there with your off the hook colorway coordination.

  4. Comment by Craig | 06.14.2010 | 11:51 am

    Firstly, I want to write something because for the first time ever, I’m first. That’s a lot of firsts for a Monday morning so I KNOW this is going to be a great week!
    More important though, Yep, I’d JB weld that thing and never look back. Seriously, if you don’t think it will hold I think you’re wrong. Follow the directions and be amazed! Plus, you’ll have that fabulous feeling in your belly every time you look down and see that great grey glob which saved you so much cash.
    As a side thought, I would never have believed that a brake lever with a carbon lever would break there, and not at the carbon lever. That’s either some wicked strong carbon or some really weak alloy.

  5. Comment by Craig | 06.14.2010 | 11:52 am

    Are you friggin kiddin me? In the time it took me to write that I went from first to fourth?!!

    So much for my great week.

  6. Comment by Clancy | 06.14.2010 | 11:54 am

    4th Option – Someone sends a link to this post to Avid, who recognizes the inherent design flaw in their high-end levers, and offers to give you a spare while they develop a version that is tougher than a stale pretzel.

  7. Comment by Brian | 06.14.2010 | 12:03 pm

    First thing I would have done is swap the front brake cable to the other lever which ain’t broke.

    But that’s just me, and I don’t have any really good stories.

  8. Comment by Darth Vader | 06.14.2010 | 12:08 pm

    Use the force. Tell us all how much you love the breaks from Avid and wish that they would not have broke after first usage. If they throw in another pair, you will have a fund raiser called, “DARTH VADER can’t stop the force, but AVID breaks will!!!” (Darth believes you secretly wrote the post in order to get a free replacement anyway, knowing that the Force would be with you. Sneaky and good job young apprentice. I have taught you well.)

  9. Comment by lowco2 | 06.14.2010 | 12:09 pm

    Your “repair it myself” list surprisingly lacked any mention of a zip tie. What gives? Are you out?

  10. Comment by Arizona Guy | 06.14.2010 | 12:21 pm

    The photo at the ends confirms my assessment of Utah as the home of unassuming hard-core bad-asses. A *5 Hour* trail ride through that terrain in cut offs??? Your friends are tough….

  11. Comment by Anthony | 06.14.2010 | 12:25 pm

    I would suggest keeping an eye on how tight your brake levers are mounted. I’m probably not the first to say this, but brake levers should only be tight enough not to twist while riding, and should be loose enough that in the event of a crash they twist around instead of snapping.

  12. Comment by Bike Snob | 06.14.2010 | 12:25 pm

    First, lowco2 took the words right out of my mouth (or the letters off my fingertips). Zip ties are always a part of my repairs…or at least a shoelace or two.

    Second, Stones actually come from the Imperial system, not the Metric system.

    Third, the number on the helmet is killing me. I hope Kenny gave you a whole lot of grief for that.

  13. Comment by Chris | 06.14.2010 | 12:27 pm

    Brian, That’s tricky to do when they’re hydraulic brakes and don’t have a cable :) Not really a trail side repair unless you carry a bleed kit in your saddle bag.
    This is the time where online, anonymous ordering comes in handy. Your lbs need never know what you did to your nice new bike, until you come in with your newly installed brake on backwards…

  14. Comment by Erik | 06.14.2010 | 12:30 pm

    When will we see some Team Fatty tattered denim cutoffs? Pair those “Fatty Dukes” with a Dicky’s Death March jersey and you’ll be stylin’.

  15. Comment by idoc | 06.14.2010 | 12:37 pm

    As others have noted your still mounted race number, I will ask, how long can one reasonably leave one on??

  16. Comment by linfin | 06.14.2010 | 12:40 pm

    I thought duct tape could fix everything. According to my dad at least. Guess you were out.

  17. Comment by MattC | 06.14.2010 | 12:54 pm

    The problem is OBVIOUSLY that one of your stem-cap bolts is undertorqued by 2″lbs (I can tell that from the pic). But wait…what about the strange angle of the brake lever?? Something seems amiss. Hmmm…might have to get out my trusty repair manual for that one. I guess Avid has really lightened up the brake lever assys to the limit, or maybe a tad beyond? (or as as Anthony said..they were just too tight and couldn’t spin on the bars).

    Falling over is always embarrasing. Breaking your bike means there’s no hiding it. Even more embarrasing. You should work bee’s into your story. Everybody hates bees!

    And I agree w/ AZ guy…cutoffs on a 5 hr ride…I’d think that big seam right smack in the nether region would be a bit painful after, oh..say 3 minutes? But that’s just me…I’m delicate. Glad you survived your ride and escaped to the sun. And hey…anybody wants some wind, we seem to have an excess here this year…it just won’t go away! I’ll gladly ship some off to you…free shipping! Just say the word! (I ship worldwide too).

  18. Comment by Anthony | 06.14.2010 | 1:00 pm

    Ok Fatty, I am going to go cry in a corner now as your new FFSS weights less then my CF road bike. You want to bring that to Philly and I will ride it in the challenge instead of my Giant? With the right gearing single speeding a century wouldn’t be that bad….

  19. Comment by Anonymous | 06.14.2010 | 1:15 pm

    I know how to repair it! Write a blog about it featuring a pic, ostensibly of the damage. Make sure the manufacturers logo is dead center in the pic. The actual damage should be in there somewhere as well. Inevitably this will cause a stir at the manufacturers head office. This will embarrass the company, not because they don’t make excellent and rugged gear–they do. They will be ashamed that people who cant turn a corner without falling down are using their product.

    Or you could do like the rest of us…

  20. Comment by Jim | 06.14.2010 | 1:17 pm

    A real man would have discarded the brake lever, gripped the cable between his front teeth*, and braked by throwing his head back in macho laughter at each gnarly hairpin and terrain feature.**

    The solution for busted up hydraulic brake levers, of course, is to sheer off the line near the front brake and pee into it – really hard – every time you need to activate the front brakes. This sounds implausible but you’d be amazed how hard you can pee when you’re about to ride off a cliff, or a 23 foot drop. In fact, I’d describe the peeing as “involuntary,” based on my own mountain biking experience.

    *A real man rocks mechanical disc brakes, rather than hydraulics, for precisely this reason.

    **I have it on good authority from a close friend – one of the voices in my head – that this is exactly how Bob Roll got that gap in his teeth, as he had to use a busted front brake a lot during a particularly tough NORBA race down in Georgia in ‘95.

  21. Comment by KanyonKris | 06.14.2010 | 1:19 pm

    Bravo for getting the first scratch / crash over with so quickly.

  22. Comment by Zlatko | 06.14.2010 | 1:23 pm

    There is no such thing as overly color coordinated.

    On that picture you’re at about 0,2 Cipollini’s (1 Cipollini being unit of color coordinated perfecion;)

  23. Comment by daniel | 06.14.2010 | 1:35 pm

    The problem with the self repair option is that your bike will now weigh significantly more than 17.6 pounds (1.257 stone).

    While the “blame it on the wife” option isn’t awful, it usually has er, um “untidy” ramifications… I’d blame it on Dave, muttering about never lending friends a bike again and throw the JRA and some super strength in to keep him from getting annoyed.

    So the completed result is “Dave was just riding’ along when he grabbed a fistful of front brake because of a hairpin turn, and wouldn’t you know he’s such a beast he snapped the garsh darn thing right off!”

  24. Comment by Andrew | 06.14.2010 | 1:40 pm

    Looking at the obligatory group pic, I’m reminded of what I’ve wondered before — where are they riding?? The “action” shots have trees, singletrack, etc. But the background of the pic – wasteland. If the photog turns a 180, is the scenescape completely different? Maybe its in those plateaus off in the distance. Who knows. Anyways, nice bike.

  25. Comment by Haven (KT) | 06.14.2010 | 2:03 pm

    Jim wins.

    “A real man would have discarded the brake lever, gripped the cable between his front teeth*, and braked by throwing his head back in macho laughter at each gnarly hairpin and terrain feature.**”

    Best. Solution. Ever.

  26. Comment by Emily | 06.14.2010 | 2:04 pm

    Um, you have like 24 super sweet bikes, right? Just take a brake off one of your other bikes and throw it on there.
    Also, next time buy some Hopes. CNC’d aluminum mount. Made in England. Also very light. But they don’t break that way. :)

  27. Comment by NoTrail | 06.14.2010 | 2:16 pm

    I still think that ‘white grips on mountain bikes get dirty very quickly’ was the real problem. If you had black ones, you wouldn’t have been staring at all the dirt on your pretty new bike in the first place. Thus allowing your eyes to wander back to the trail, avoiding the down-falls of the technical switchbacks, and ultimately keeping yourself upright and free from the broken brake syndrome.

    If only you had known.

  28. Comment by jonw9 | 06.14.2010 | 2:22 pm

    I think this is the one time you can get away with calling them “breaks”!

    At least it wasn’t your frame! My (apparently obese) SFSS just went in for warranty replacement today. :(

  29. Comment by Scott | 06.14.2010 | 2:23 pm

    The real conundrum is, do you get it fixed now, or wait until you can shave *even more* grams by getting the Avid XX World Cup brakes?

  30. Comment by Slowerthensnot | 06.14.2010 | 2:41 pm

    Had a blast with you guys! Sorry to hear about the lever…. should have gone with you guys on the rim, I think i could have McGuyver’ed something for yah…

  31. Comment by Constantin | 06.14.2010 | 3:13 pm

    About the rivets…and the duct tape… I must admit I used them both for fixing a break handle in my cousin’s bike. Eventually I bought her a new set.

    Raise some money for the broken brake and ask the service provider to donate the profit.


  32. Comment by Kathleen@ForgingAhead | 06.14.2010 | 3:14 pm

    So sad to see the brand new bike so broken in :-(

  33. Comment by J A Y | 06.14.2010 | 3:28 pm

    Use glue, glue will fix anything. Epoxy may have to cure over night but you can use it to “glue” everything (except some things epoxy wont stick to). Weather stripping cement is great for soft things like those expensive shoes that fall apart. Model cement is good for many plastic items.
    Remember for trail repairs always carry “zipp ties”.

  34. Comment by Nic Grillo | 06.14.2010 | 3:53 pm

    In my motocross days, broken brake levers and/or mounts would happen all the time. It will happen less frequently if you do one of the following:

    1. Fall less.
    2. Keep mount just slightly loose (so that it will rotate around the bar if you put a bit of pressure on it)
    3. Buy cheaper levers and mounts.

  35. Comment by Clydesteve | 06.14.2010 | 3:53 pm

    I really think you should have been able to cut up a water bottle and make a lasting & innovative repair. Was it because you already did that column?

  36. Comment by Mikeonhisbike | 06.14.2010 | 4:16 pm

    There has to be some infomercial product that should cure this problem. Maybe some mighty putty. But wait there’s more if you wrap it with a shamwow it will give you a lasting fix and solve your riding in the rain problem. Guaranteed!

  37. Comment by Mario C. | 06.14.2010 | 5:03 pm

    Socks fatty, gotta get the socks to match. Very disappointing…

  38. Comment by ross | 06.14.2010 | 6:20 pm

    Fatty, I was coming back from St.G on sunday and passed a guy driving a mini. He waved at us and I saw a bike in the back of his car. I quickly said “Dude… that guy looks just like fatty!”. He was alone in the car (as far as I could see).

    Was that you??

  39. Comment by PhilaUte | 06.14.2010 | 8:27 pm

    Any true Utahn would realize that baling wire is the critical (and often only) component of any self repair – and not just for bikes. I’m beginning to question your Utah cred. (Assuming that’s something people aspire to.)

    As a Washington County native, your recent pics have made me more than a little homesick. Keep ‘em coming.

  40. Comment by Gordon In Melb, Australia | 06.14.2010 | 8:48 pm

    I’d repair the bike buy putting gears on the damn thing. You have got new technology all over the bike and the frame is made of this space age thing called carbon fibre yet you decide not to put gears on it.

    If it was geared technical switch-backs would not be such a hassle and result in less embarassment and less repair jobs.

    Do you take your clothes to a river and belt them with rocks to clean them….no….you put them in that new technology called a washing machine.

    Gears are good !!!!! (and yes I have a few single speeds… but they are from the 30’s and 40’s oh and my old mountain bike so I have tried it).

    Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

  41. Comment by buckythedonkey | 06.15.2010 | 1:15 am

    Avid? I thought you were powered by Shimano? There’s a conspiracy in there somewhere…

  42. Comment by Jenn | 06.15.2010 | 2:15 am

    I’m all too familiar with the ‘flopping like a fish’ method of disentanglement. No amount of color coordination can salvage that particular look.

    Also, as to color coordination, @zlatko – it’s measured in terms of onions?

  43. Comment by Mike Roadie | 06.15.2010 | 4:34 am

    I don’t think it’s the jersey; there are not 12 pounds of blubber there!

    Warranty is definitely a valid excuse.

    While jumping is optional (Rule 12.4.3c), taking one’s helmet off for pictures to match the rest of the group is not!

    Nice dream ride, it’s a beauty—color coordinating for that is A-OK!

  44. Comment by Mike Roadie | 06.15.2010 | 4:35 am

    Also, way to go Team Fatty Seattle and ClydeSteve!!!!!

  45. Comment by Cardiac Kid | 06.15.2010 | 5:53 am

    I thought the number on the helmet was a new age underwear tag….something to help Fatty find his way home.

    We never stop learning…

  46. Comment by Mainiac_Rager | 06.15.2010 | 6:38 am

    First off: cutoffs FTW. Tobias would be proud

    Second off: Lever is toast. The torsion you apply when braking is stabilized by the clamp. It will never fix. Consider replacing with a cable setup (~$60) if Avid won’t warranty it.

  47. Comment by Richard | 06.15.2010 | 7:58 am

    A pair of vice multi-grip pliers would have saved you.

    If you want to send them to Perth, Western Australia, I’ll get my brother-in-law to weld them up for you.

  48. Comment by axel in texas | 06.15.2010 | 9:48 am

    Should have gone with heavy and solid instead of lightweight and flimsy. You are famous, so just try getting free stuff from Avid. Zipties and ducttape are for bikes that are older than a few days…

  49. Comment by MOCougFan | 06.15.2010 | 9:58 am

    I have no idea how to fix anything on my bike. Take it to Racers.

    btw… those are definately the longest daisy dukes I’ve ever seen Kenny wear!! What’s up with that Kenny?

  50. Comment by LM | 06.15.2010 | 10:23 am

    Imagine 4 girls from Canada on Slickrock, 1st ride, 1st day of a 3 day trip to Moab/Fruita and I also have no front break. I go over the handle bars and land stright arm on the right hand and have been in an full arm brace ever since, April 28 was the day! (8 weeks). My story is very boring and folks say I should spice it up a little, so I’m going to incorporate no breaks, snakes and snow on the trail for a better story. Oh, and I’m trying the warranty angle for the front brake. I was in too much pain to try and fix anything out there!

  51. Comment by Greg @ Greg Rides Trails | 06.15.2010 | 2:30 pm

    Sweet looking ride! Glad its all together and ready to rock!

    My advice: buy less expensive brakes that still work great (but probably weigh a good bit more). They will
    A) not break as often because of said extra heftiness
    B) be cheaper to repair when they do break.

    Problem solved!

  52. Comment by Matthew in Seattle | 06.16.2010 | 12:29 am


    Speaking from experience with SRAM here, no silly stories about “JRA” necessary. If the levers are in the current model year, you’ll probably be successful in getting them to repair/replace them on warranty.

    Personal story: I had a pair of SRAM Rival levers on my ‘cross bike that broke when I hit a junior that wiped out in front of me and went endo onto his bike. The shifter internals snapped pretty badly.

    Once the LBS contacted SRAM, the QA department told the shop to replace the lever from their stock and ship the broken lever to their office for inspection, and SRAM would refund shipping and send a new lever to replace stock. No questions asked. We were told the bottom line is that SRAM builds racing bicycle components, and crashing is part of racing.

    I think if you told Racer’s that you crashed, and they contact SRAM, you’re going to end up with a new lever without much out of pocket cost.

  53. Comment by Dave | 06.16.2010 | 7:18 am

    I think you should tell Racer it was a design flaw and he needs to get you a new one. You know because I bet he NEVER reads your blog.

  54. Comment by Clark | 06.16.2010 | 9:01 am

    Funny thing, my wife has the Avid Matchmaker clamps on her bike with XO triggers and Juicy brakes. She went to shift the other day and just shouted out, “There’s something wrong with my shifters!”. The clamp where the shifter pod attaches to the brake lever had sheared in two, almost exactly like yours did. I put it in a decent gear and zip tied it to her bars so she could finish the ride. She still had 3 gears essentially, since she has a triple up front. Her ratios were just huge between shifts ;)

  55. Comment by duff | 06.17.2010 | 1:45 pm

    Looking good in the pics, Fatty! I think the 29nSNGL* bibs pair well with the Death March Jersey! Save the “fatty dukes” for the dude ranch. Give’r!

  56. Comment by Jocko Suskevich | 06.17.2010 | 4:59 pm

    Greg has it correct. Your brake lever was overtightened on the bar, if you run it looser the lever will spin on the bar and most likely not break. That old trick has saved a couple sets of levers for Oilcan already, as you can see here.
    It’s a harrowing tale of snapping two brake cables in the same ride and living to tell about it. Don’t ask me, I’m not his mechanic these days.

    Props on the Dark site kit!



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