I wrote about attending to some bicycle maintenance a while ago, and this is a sort of follow-up to that post. As part of the process, I wound up taking it to the local bike mechanic for some TLC and a professional opinion. He adjusted the damages derailleur, replaced all the shift and brake cables, checked for wear, and replaced the chain, all of which I knew needed doing.
But there was a problem.
After the new chain was installed, any significant force on the pedals resulted in a clunking sound from the rear sprocket cassette almost like the bike was trying to shift.
I knew the mechanic had checked the derailleur alignment, and there was no actual shifting, but it just felt wrong, and sounded even worse.
After some further tests, I found the problem was worst in the middle gears, but nonexistent in the highest and lowest. That coincides with the gear range where I ride the most, and my conclusion was cog wear. The new chain was not stretched way beyond spec, and wasn't meshing with the badly-neglected cassette.
Solution: order a new cassette and tools.
I had no idea how to replace it, but the internet is a magical place of free expertise, and I found a superb tutorial from REI. I also chose a slightly smaller tooth count for the lowest gear since that was
A. available, and,
B. something I had been pondering anyway considering my riding habits.
The replacement process was not too difficult even though I lack a proper work stand for the bike. The right tools for the job are a definite necessity, though, and I was glad I had remembered to order them along with the cassette.
A quick shakedown ride indicates everything is adjusted right again. All I have left to do is find new tires and tubes. I want something a step up from Walmart, but not $100+ competition mountain bike tires. I also want a hybrid tire with a more roadworthy center tread pattern and knobbier outer tread. We will see what I can find.