Rebuilding a Bike After Shipping

by Sean Hess, Team Rider and Manager for Strackacobra. Visit me on Google+.

Luggage Forward, UPS and the Samsonite Gorilla.

Someone had a crush on my bike box!

Well the bike showed up in Utah. And Thank God it was well packed!

Back in the day there was this TV commercial for Samsonite where a gorilla took a suitcase and quite literally beat the living sh*t out of it. The gorilla pounded it on cement, he pounded it on the bars of his cage, he even chucked it as hard as he could against the wall. This gorilla clearly had issues with luggage. But the Samsonite case would not break.

Well, that gorilla got his hands on my bike box on the way out to Utah. It came in crushed.

The box had been through so much that a small box of tools (packed and SEALED) individually inside the main box exploded. At first I thought someone opened the box and stole the tools…because the tool box was on top of the bike and empty when I opened the main box…but I found them scattered across the bottom after pawing through it. One minor tool was damaged, but nothing to write home about.

The crank, ziptied to the frame through the pedal holes, oriented forward and backward so nothing would touch it (as opposed to oriented toward the bottom and top of the box) were hit so hard that the ziptie broke.

So but for the Grace of God the packing was up to the task and the bike and the wheels survived.

I kind of expected something like this. When I shipped it out last year for nationals it came through pretty beat up, but nothing like getting serious love from the gorilla.

I sent it through Luggage Forward and the bike was initially picked up by UPS. I’m not holding any grudges…and they picked it up and delivered it to the correct address and on time…but I don’t think I’m going to use them if I ship it again!

I’m a little freaked that I have to send it back through them though (already paid for). Better double up on the bubble wrap.

Rebuilding the Bike

A makeshift bike stand using a two-by-four and two trash cans.

A makeshift stand worked fine.

Normally building up a bike, even with its pedals and handlebars removed, is a pretty easy task.

I complicated it a bit by ordering a new rear derailleur and derailleur hanger after the bike shipped out.

The bike shop had it fixed but thought the derailleur itself might have been bent (not the hanger) due to some damage I inflicted on the bike on the last day of practice.

When I was preparing the bike to ship I saw they were right. Earlier in the year I tried racing with a bad rear drivetrain with horrific results (on my repairs, not the bike shop’s). So I decided, with all the training and sweat I put in this season, just bite the bullet and have it new and right for the race…no excuses for failing equipment.

So after putting the handlebars, seatpost, pedals and front wheel back on, I removed the rear wheel, derailleur and hanger.

A derailleur hanger bolt Dremeled to the right size.

A derailleur hanger bolt Dremeled to the right size.

The hanger (“hanger #12″) just bolts on to my Stumpjumper and the derailleur (XT 10 speed) just bolts on to that. The trouble was one of the hanger bolts was too long and obstructed the cassette. So out came my brother-in-law’s Dremel, and after one or two trips to The Home Depot later (to get the right cutter), I can report that the bolt found itself at an acceptable size.

Then I had to adjust the upper and lower limits on the derailleur itself, because out of the box it wouldn’t drop to the little cassette, and wouldn’t shift up to the biggest. I also replaced the cable and part of the housing (I had the foresight to ship extra cables and housing out with the bike).

Using a two-by-four laid across two trash cans I made a makeshift stand to do all the adjusting, and it worked just fine.

When I test rode the bike at Salt Lake City’s famous Pipeline Trail (at Mill Creek Canyon), everything worked fine.

Now on to Idaho and Sun Valley for Mountain Bike Nationals!

See Strackacobra’s mountain themed T’s at

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