How tight is too tight?

I’ve seen so many loose bolts this past week, I can’t contain myself.  Broken racks and rattling fenders and spinning SPD cleats are no fun.  Tighten those bolts!

On the Dovetail Bikes Blog:

I’d guess that half of you have a loose bolt on their bike. Take a wrench to all the attachment bolts for racks, fenders, and water bottle cages and snug them up. Even if it’s not loose, give it a quarter turn to ensure that a big load or a rough road does not loosen them in the future…How tight is tight enough? An experienced mechanic says to me, “a quarter turn before you strip the threads”. With a hint of hyperbole, the answer is as tight as possible without damaging the frame…more from “Tighten Up!” on the Dovetail Blog.

Some developments are brewing at Dovetail, including a collaboration with Swift Industries for some super bike touring bags made by real people in Seattle, WA.  Wanna tour or commute “rack-lite”?  Coming soon!


9 thoughts on “How tight is too tight?

    • Semi-custom Swift/Dovetail bags coming up! Hopefully this will be the beginning of a continuing partnership, because I’ve got some bag ideas I’d like to see in real, live waxed cotton. Also, we’ve got a neat promotion planned.

  1. Robert Pirsig had things to say about how and why people leave simple “technical” problems unresolved. What he said was profound but basically boiled down to being afraid to make matters worse. Me, I believe it is all about the tools you have at hand. Once you have tools, you learn how to use them. You learn their usage and then, if you are of an intrepid spirit, you seek out problems, problems that can be resolved with the tools at hand.

    Or not. I don’t know. I wonder if Dovetail would accept a ghost post if I promise to type good?

    Something along the lines of “fear not, bicycles are easy to ride and you can fix it yourself. I do, and if I can do, you can too!” I all along wanted my Blog to be an encouragement for returning riders, but then I developed a readership and I started singing to the choir and I feel that some small amount of integrity went along with the song.

    pedal on, lad, pedal on…


    • I suspect they’d be happy to publish a submission, ghost, or no ghost. Being the TPC isn’t anything to hide, and you always type good. I’m continually impressed by your breadth. Either you’re real good at Wikipedia and Google, or you have a trailer full of great titles.

      We hope to grow Dovetail as a resource for new cyclists by providing practical information and encouragement; as a depository for new and new-old ideas about riding bikes that other sensible minds might appreciate; and as a way to share some of our favorite equipment that allows us to pursue our “bike around and sleep outside” dreams.

      It’s the second part that I really enjoy, the “new-old ideas for sensible people”. These four ideas answer almost every query I receive from prospective or budding cyclists and cycle tourists: Strap a drybag to your bike. Old mountain bikes make better tourers than old touring bikes. Try to do it all with just one bike. Sometimes winging it is the best approach.

      Your Pirsig analysis reminds me that when I was young I wielded the tools at hand, sought a usage, and then after my mom took my bike to the LBS to repair the problem I had created, I finally learned how to use them. I had tightened everything on my bike with the available tools. As a result of getting my limit screws good and tight, I didn’t have any more gears. One step back equals two steps forward– I’ve always been handy with limit screws since then.

  2. Bags! Bags! Bags! The people want bags!

    Have you aske swift about martexin fabrics? Very nice cotton offerings. Samples available at a phone call. I may have speced their stuff when designing bags for some other bike company somewhere.

    • Swift sells Martexin waterproofing finish, but they don’t specify what kind of canvas they use on the site. You’re right, Martexin seems to be the standard for this application.

      I was thinking that the DP VX fabrics used in Revelate and other modern bags was going to be amazing. It isn’t really waterproof in use, at least when “waterproof” zippers are involved. It sweats like crazy on the insides when the temperature drops, much like Ortlieb style drybags. So, while it is lightweight and abrasion resistant, the contents have to be carefully bagged in case of rain. I guess most bags will sweat but the Carradice has been the most rainproof and begins to let moisture out as soom as the rain stops. It’s like no nonsense Gore-Tex. A brand new Ortlieb (Jandd, etc) is a close second, but deteriorates in time. I think wear around the hardware lets water in. Maybe it’s better to tour through the deserts. It’s much easier to find ways to carry water, than to keep it off.

      • I have no equipment, but i built my bike without using any machine tools except a corded drill. I’ll be picking up enough stuff to slowly and carefully build frames.. torch and some files, a saw, sandpaper, flux and filler and maybe a jig when i’m done touring, big question is: do i get reaming, cutting, milling… You know, prep tools? I think not, too much $$, i’ll find a friendly bike shop for that.

        School (i think, wasn’t listening) has a 3-axis machine, CNC lathe, verticals & horizontals in prototype lab, so i might also make some widgets and whatnots.

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