BMX racers, flat land and park riders are always talking about weight on their rigs. This seems like a silly concept to me because the extra components that one might put on their bicycle really don’t amount to much in terms of weight. The real weight issues will start with your frame, forks, pegs and wheels. Anything else isn’t worth being concerned about if you want functionality and performance. If you do race then you only need a rear braking system, if any at all. Some racers don’t use brakes, or even saddles, during competition.
The gyro and detangler brake system seems like a lot of work to setup. Some performance bicycle enthusiast complain about the extra weight and completely do away with the gyro and detangler system. The whole system weighs less than a pound and if you know a few simple set up tricks you can speed up the process of adjustment for a gyro system on your rig. The advantages of having a detangler system on your bicycle far exceed the weight issues and they really look cool if you get a mid-grade to pro-grade system for your BMX bicycle. In any case, if you are concerned about that small amount of extra weight then perhaps you should do a little more training to build your strength. I have a bicycle that I race and one that I train on. The one I train on is considered a heavy bicycle and it has every extra part you can think of loaded onto the frame. It even has the reflectors installed. I wanted the training rig to be heavy for a reason and that reason is to build strength and endurance so that when I do race on my other rig it is like riding a feather down the track.
If you consider the fact that your handlebars will eventually try to turn 360 degrees while competing or park riding then you know that this can damage your brake lines and housings. Having a detangler system installed can reduce or eliminate any problems that might occur if this scenario plays out while you ride and perform tricks. The system itself is reliable and can save you a lot of repair time if you have it properly adjusted.
Here are some tricks I use when I install a gyro system. First I remove the handlebars and head set. Now I have to take the complete fork and connection components off of the bicycle. This should reveal the bearing cups (races) at the top and the bottom of the headset tube on the frame where the fork and handlebar assembly where mounted. You may need a tool to tap out the top and bottom bearing cups but if you don’t have one I have used a large flat head screw driver and a small hammer to gently tap around the inside edges of the bearing cups on the inside of the headset tube on the frame to remove them. Be careful and don’t damage the cups. The cups aren’t machine pressed in but they shouldn’t be loose when seated in the headset tube. Repeat this step for the top and bottom bearing cups mounted in the headset tube.
Now you can install the lower cable stop plate on the top of the frame’s headset tube. Make sure that the lower cable stop plate has the tabs on the left and right sides of the headset tube. you can do this by standing over the bicycle and looking down at the headset tube and adjusting the lower cable stop plate by eye. It just has to be very close and it will work well. Now use a small block of wood and a small hammer to tap the upper bearing cup back into the top of the headset tube. This bearing cup will hold the lower cable stop in place on the tube when it has been seated all the way in to the frame. I remove both upper and lower bearing cups to inspect them or if I have new ones then I can inspect the headset tube for cracks and broken welds. If everything is in good working order then install the upper and lower bearing cups onto the headset tube.
Now you can install the bearing unit or the “gyro” over the top of the steering tube. It should sit right on top of the lower cable stop you just installed. Replace the bearings, forks and steering system but leave the handlebars off for now. You should have a spacer and a flat notched lock washer that will slide over the top of the fork tube. Place these items on the fork tube and them place the upper cable stop on the fork tube. If you have a thread-less headset then you can install that now but if your fork has threads then place the top fork nut on the fork tube and tighten everything down to torque specifications. You should have everything installed at this point with the exception of the handle bars. If everything is aligned correctly and bolted down the install the handle bars.
Now it is time to run the brake cables. Your brake system and gyro kit should contain an upper and lower brake cable system. Some styles vary but the installation is basically the same. Connect your brake cables to the brake handles and pull all of the slack to the other end where it should be a left and right cable for the upper cable stop. Put the brake cable ball ends through the upper cable stop and run the finger screw adjusters all the way down. We will adjust the finger screws later as this will give us enough slack to install the lower brake cable assembly to the rear brake system. Place the cable ball ends on the upper tabs of the gyro bearing unit.
Now install the lower brake cable on the lower cable stop the same way. Run the brake cable ball ends through the lower cable stop and run the thumb adjustment screws all the way down. Pull the cable slack out to the rear of the bicycle and make sure you have all of the slack from the brake handle all the way snug and out of the lower brake cable to the rear of the bicycle. Connect your lower brake cable end(s) to your brake system at the rear wheel and close the brakes with one hand while tightening the clamp with your other hand. Now your gyro system should be aligned and ready for a final adjustment. There should be a millimeter or so of distance between your rear brake pads and your rear rim. If there is slightly more then you can run the thumb adjustment screws out a few turns at a time to take up this slack. Make sure that you adjust the left, right, top and bottom adjustment screws the same amount. If you don’t the the cables won’t share the load and will wear faster and/or cause braking problems. You want both of your brake pads to connect with the rim at the same time when applying the brake with the brake handle. If one side connects first then adjust the thumb adjustment screw for the other side in order to make it meet the rim at the same time the first side does.
If you take a few moments to adjust the thumb adjustment screws at the upper and lower cable stop plates your brakes should work very well and the gyro bearing should ride right in the middle of your headset between the upper and lower cable stop plates. When you turn your handlebars 360 degrees your gyro bearing should remain flat and even throughout the turns without catching or tangling the brake cable housings. A final adjustment can be made at the brake handle adjustment screw by taking out the small amounts of slack that may be left in the system. If all of your components are functioning properly then you should be looking at your new brake detangler system fully installed and operational.
Now take the bicycle out and ride it. Test the brakes a few times to make sure they feel right for your riding application. Allow a few days for the system to settle in by riding the bicycle and using the brakes often. This will stretch your brake cables a little and this is normal. Once your system has been broken in repeat the adjustments steps again for the final adjustment phase. If everything is tight and working well at this point then you should get a long service life out of your detangler system with little to no maintenance issues. Every year check your cables and replace them if they are frayed or worn.