The Dawes Terarra mountain bike, that is not really mine, it is a bike we bought some years back for occasional use – and over the years it has had just that. It was bought secondhand and so I don’t really know how old the tubes and tyres are, but I got a bit of an idea when I notice that the front tyre was flat all of a sudden. Upon pumping back up, it went straight back down within seconds, which seemed all a bit strange as it hadn’t been used for a number of weeks. I had a feeling it was just old and the rubber had in some way failed.
At the same time, I had been given a book of good bike rides in Sussex of which one such ride just happened to pass through Lancing on the way on a circle up the Downs. I knew there were plenty of byways and bridleways criss crossing the Downs but I’ve never really fancied it on the Royal. I had in a past ride taken a “shortcut” along the top of the Downs and while the Royal had no problems coping with the harsh chalk rough path, it wasn’t the most comfortable ride I had ever had!
So I was thinking…. while I was getting a new tube to replace the perished ones, maybe the slick tyres currently on the bike might be a bit past it too. If I was to replace the tyres with proper off road mountain bike ones, then maybe I could do this route with the Dawes. I didn’t want to spend too much money and so I was pretty happy to find two tyres and two tubes on Amazon for £17, surely a knobbly tyres is a knobbly tyre – for me anyway, at this level. I don’t know why the Dawes came with slick tyres when we bought it although as we didn’t have plans to use it off road it was actually quite handy. I expected they would be pretty thin tyres and so wouldn’t trust them for much off road and certainly not on the chalky and rocky paths over the Downs.
The tyres came off quick and easy, the new ones went on quick and easy. Amazingly easy. I have been used to the more puncture resistant tyres on both the Royal and the Highway which take sometimes hours to get on and off, including quite a bit of swearing too.
Putting everything back together I gave the bike a quick try and quickly found out that the chain was slipping badly and not really changing gear particularly well. While in the smallest wheel at the front and the smallest at the back, peddling would be impossible and the chain would be dangling down so much that it was almost touching the floor. Something really was not right. What made it harder to look at is that the rear derailier works in the opposite way that would think it should do, some funny Dawes things that they used to do (maybe they still do). It made looking at this problem a bit tricky as you find yourself looking at something that looks familiar because it does, until you look closer. It was strange, everything was telling me the chain was too long, but at the same time it had not suddenly grown in length! I thought maybe it was not springing back like it should be, or back far enough, and as I was playing with it there was a big clonk and the whole derailier shifted up and backwards. The chain now looked a lot more normal and upon a quick test ride through the gears it showed there was no more slipping – problem solved. It maybe got shifted as I was pulling back rear wheel out, it probably should not clonk like it does but it seemed it was in no hurry to be clonking backwards and forwards on its own in a hurry.
We now do have a mountain bike that looks ready for some off roading.