Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Spoke Grabbin'

First, apologies to all. I have been busy and not able to get any writing in this past week.

So as penance, here is a Tool Time project:

The spoke grabber. This gadget comes in handy when you are working on a wheel that has straight pull(no J-hook) spokes or aero blades spokes(They lack the torsional strength of a round spoke and can really twist up) I also find them handy for holding the spoke with the occasional sticky nipple or when the spokes are really slim like Dt Revolutions.

First you need a fourth hand tool, the Hozan C-356. This is not a cheap tool so try and find a used one. The one pictured is one we retired after about 15 years of shop use. It was to worn to pull on cables but fit spokes great.

First thing you want to do is unhook the spring and then you can set the handles at a comfortable distance for your grip. (The upper handle moves freely)
Once you decide the grip. Take a punch and mark where you will drill thru the upper arm and the main body of the tool. You will need to tap this hole later so pick a drill for the size screw you plan on using. I used a 6x1mm screw which was a little big but what was handy when I decided to do this. I would use a 4mm screw if I did it again. Drill thru both pieces(with the grip in how you want it) using a bit to match your tap. Then go back and oversize the hole in the upper arm so that you are only tapping the hole in the main body. That way the screw you install will clamp the two pieces together. I did this with a drill press but you can free hand it with a hand drill. You want to be careful and clamp the tool to a table or block of wood if you do not use a press.

Tap the hole.

Now loop the free end of the spring on the screw and screw it down tight. Cut off the extra part of the upper arm. I used a chop saw for this but you can do it with a hacksaw.

I also put a hook in the lower arm to give a little extra something to keep it from slipping out of my hand. I removed the grip and cold bent the arm in a vice.

Done. I cannot claim credit for coming up with this mod. I got the idea from United Bicycle Tool, they sold these but I have not seen them in their catalog for many years. The one I got from them is about twelve years old. The one pictured took me about 45 minutes to make and works perfect.

It will work an any thing from a Dt Revolution(1.6mm) up to the large alloy spokes on a Mavic CrossMax

Have fun and don't put your eye out.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Biomega Part Twee*

*two, "twee" is what you call Dutch
Remember the Biomega? We finally got around to working on it(That only took a day or two, getting my lazy ass to write about it, that took a couple of weeks.)

As cool as the bike looks it has some major issues in the quality department.(Hoo-boy does it)
First thing was the BB. We noticed it was unscrewed some when the bike was dropped off, that was the good part. Turns out the "shell"(Actually a chunk of alluminum inside the plastic monocoque that is also part of the cantilevers)is threaded backwards with the left hand threads on the non-drive side.
Then we had real trouble getting the chain tensioned and the wheel straight at the same time. Turns out the manufacturer did not realise that you need to have dropouts parallel.

This is ranks in the top five of stupid bike ideas.

While aligning the wheel(An event requiring two people swearing) we also noticed that the cantilever stays are not in plane with the front wheel.

That makes for exciting handling when you take a hands off the bar.

On top of all that the angled drop out interfered with the housing stop for the internal hub. So much that it locked up the shift mechanism. We ended up using axle spacers to widen the spacing enough for the stop to clear. This also helped correct the poor centering of the wheel.

I could not find a retail price for this model but Biomegas conventional frame bikes start at around $1650. That is a bunch of coin for a bike that fails to offer even the quality control found on a WalMart bike(Yes, the Lamborghini is a better buy).
While looking around I found several sites praising the "design" of the bike. I guess design appreciation does not incorperate application.
Were I present it might go something like this:

Designer, "Look at this beautiful lamp I have created"

Me, "But there is no way to turn it on."

Designer, "Can you not see hows its design allows it to flow from the shade all the way to the top of the table."

Me, "I can't even find the cord"

Designer, "A cord would have ruined its symetry"

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Rare Sight

Here we have a Shimano nine speed cassette with... a nine tooth cog. I bet most of you have not seen one of these before. The only time they show up is on some Bike Fridays and a few other odd recumbent bikes that could not use an adult size wheel.

It has SHIMANO right on the tiny, tiny lock ring.

I know you are asking, "Where can I get one? My 53-11 is just not enough for my massive quads"
Well, they only come from a couple of places. Bike Friday has them and I hear a couple of recumbent specific websites do as well. But don't rush right out to grab one because they only fit a special free hub body, also from Shimano. The free hub(sorry I forgot to take a picture of it) has splining about half the length of a regular free hub then it necks down to allow the smaller cogs to fit. These cogs have their own splining and mate to each other rather than to the central hub.
Very cool if you have a bike with a sixteen inch wheel.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Does Lamborghini really need the money?

What the hell...

makes Lamborghini, whose cheapest car is over $100,000, want to crap all over their brand by licencing it for a piece like this?
This is a 32 pound, $130, road bike(It cast a similar shadow anyway). You can see, in the shot there, that it is has Gripshift shifters on it.
I know what you are thinking,"What magic was used to get those things that far up a set of drop bars"? I'll tell you. They cut the handlebar in two. Yep, sawed it right down the middle. It makes it real easy to put Gripshifters on. Of course you now need this wide ass stem with guide pins to keep the handle bar from falling out or getting misaligned. And you get the bonus(?) of Gripshift.

Gripshift did make shifters for road bikes about 15 years ago but they had the good sense to stop that silliness. And at least when they did make shifters they were meant to fit on the ends of the bars(Usually they were to be found on triathletes aerobars. No doubt a rumor was spread about the three second advantage in the 100K they offered) so you did not have to saw your Cinellis in two.

You may have also noticed the quality assembly work as well. The assembler at MalMart(Name changed to protect the guilty) must have based this fork setup on all those shopping carts he had recently brought in from the parking lot.

Look close and you can see the defeat of the invention: aerobrake levers. See that? The cables just come straight out of the back of the hoods rather than being run cleanly under the tape. This is the most ironic part of the whole bike(Even more than the name) They built this thing as cheap as possible and then spent extra for brake levers with a feature that did not get used. They could have dropped the price another five bucks if they had just put some non aero levers on. Would have matched that lovely single pivot brake much better.

Reminds me of this awesome thread on BikeForums. A lovely exchange between the MalMart fans and lovers of actual bikes.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Something Simple

How often do I hear, "I need something simple, like an old English bike. Them new fangled De-Rail-Eurs is to complex for me to handle" (Tip: A bunch)

So I point them to the one bike, in the shop, that has an internal hub. When they see that the "simple" bike of their dreams cost eighty bucks more than the one with a derailleur, they run screaming from the shop. No doubt in search of two sticks with which to light up their next Marlboro.

Now look, the first thing is that an internal hub only seems simple because you cannot see all of the stuff inside the hub.

(Note, this is what you see if you break even one of those hair springs(They look like hairs in the shot)and need to replace it.
ALSO, this is the simplest internal hub, it is a three speed. Most modern hubs have twice the gears and twice the parts)

A derailleur is much more simple in construction and is as easy to adjust(if you know how) on the rare occasions that you might need to do so.

(Note, this pic is far more "apart" than you ever see your der. because the most likely thing to break is a pulley which involves only the removal of a single screw. You do not even need to take the wheel off)

An internal hub uses a set(or sets) of planetary/ring/sun gears to give several different gear ratios. This makes for lots of little gears and springs and pawls, and a couple of more springs then a separate gear carrier. Oh, and then you have the shift action that is part of the hub. And if you want the "simple" brake, the coaster or foot brake, add another spring, some friction material, a drum and a screw engagement. And an indexed shifter.

A derailleur just uses a properly length parallelogram setup that indexes to the shifter.

Pay no attention to the exposed derailleur. Its apparent complexity is a LIE.
If you set up a der. right it will work without flaw for years.
To be fair, so will an internal hub. Until a hair spring fails and you have to completely disassemble it(see picture above)

But here comes the fun part:
You want the internal hub because it is simple and you want a simple bike when you ride back and forth to work.

What happens when you get a flat?

Well first you unscrew your carefully adjusted cable and unhook it from the hub(It shifts thru the end of the axle(Sturmey) or thru a mechanism on the hub shell(Shimano). Then you remove the cable guide, undo the nuts, take off the axle index washers, and hook the chain over the dropout so it does not lay in the dirt while you repair your tire.

To reinstall: you slip the axle back into the dropouts, making sure to line up the chain, reinstall the index washers(after remembering where you laid them down) by twisting the axle to the correct angle(with your fingers), finding the nuts(near the index washers, in the dirt, by your foot)you install them, while trying to keep the wheel straight and the chain properly tensioned.
If you also needed coaster brake "simple", include: Line up torque arm and find torque arm hardware(in dirt by foot).
Flat tire repair time: twenty minutes. Wait, you are the guy that wanted a "simple" setup. Actual Repair Time: How long does it take you to call some one on the cell and get them to haul you to the bike shop and have the shop fix the flat for you?

Now if you have a derailleur equipped bike:
Shift to small-small gear combo.
Open quick release, remove wheel. The der. will hold the chain in place.
Fix flat.
Slip the wheel back in to place and re tighten quick release.
Repair time: Ten minutes, (I can do it in three, you are just slow)

All I can figure is that people looking for a "simple" set up have a vague recollection of three speed "English bikes" back in the mist shrouded by-gones of friction shift road bikes.
All bikes are index shift now. Click and shift. If you can read this column, you can operate a modern thirty speed bike(Unless you have some kind of inner ear balance problem).
Modern bikes have a better range of gears. This means smaller jumps between gears as well as a lower low gear and taller top gear.
So go ride a derailleur equipped bike before making some kind of silly judgement based on vague recollections of bikes you never rode in the first place.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Review Time

First a couple of warnings:
The closing credits have music by Randy Newman(I beleive he did all the music but he is singing for this part).

Now to the movie. James and the Giant Peach is based on a Roald Dahl book and he really likes putting little kids in stressful situations that are resolved by the childs plucky determination and wit. You would think this would be pretty bad but not so in this case. The movie is very engaging. It is also pretty short, around seventy minutes so even those ADD should be able to sit thru it.

The movie blends live action with stop motion animation and 2D animation.
The live action stuff is ahot on forced perspective sets, a very spiffy effect.
The stop motion makes you think instantly of Tim Burton, and he produced the movie so no surprise there. There is even an appearance of Jack Skellington as a pirate.
The 2D animation looked so much like Terry Gilliams style, I had to roll thru the credits looking for his name. No dice.

All three combined for a fun little flick. Three astericks all around.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Biomega

You have just come out with a new city bike. It has a plastic monocoque frame made from two halves bonded together. It features an internal hub for easy shifting and a nice, big, comfy seat.
But somethings missing. What does it need? Yes! I know!
It should glow in the dark.

Yes, that is the frame glowing in the dark.

Made by Biomega, this interesting rig showed up the other day. The customer picked it up in ,New York and the shop(Not a bike shop more Neiman Marcusesque) he picked it from had done a pretty sloppy job with the assembly so he dropped it off for a looking at.
The Biomega does have some cool features. The plastic bonded one piece frame(actually two pieces glued together) is pretty cool, not super light but it will not rust. The dropouts are large aluminum plates slotted into the plastic cantilever stays. You slide them along this channel to adjust the chain tension.
For some reason it also has folding pedals, a little odd as nothing else on the bike folds. They may have seen that the average person trying to take a 12 inch wide bike thru a three foot doorway was to much of a challenge and folding pedals would improve the odds.
For a city bike it has a pretty extreme handlebar/seat position. and the fork is track steep. Must be for quickly weaving thru traffic for that first orange mocha frappuccino of the day

Friday, October 10, 2008

FRAUD, What is it good for?

Abslo-freaking-lutely nothing.

Today we are going into the topic of getting screwed.
"Why", you ask, are we heading into this dark realm?
Because we had a scam call at the shop the other day.
Actually we get annoying ,spam calls all day, every day. They usually are along the lines of, "I just need to confirm your info for our incredible online phonebook, the fake Yellow Pages"
If there are any small biz guys reading, NEVER DO THIS. They will send a bill for $29.95 for listing your biz address in a place anyone can find it for free about a half million times.
We also get loads of automated, "finance your impending doom" BS. "2" is your Friend(Altho I have a theory that pressing "2" just confirms you were idiot enough to listen to the whole message)
Back to point. Monday we got a call from a guy in Florida, two states and ten hours away, that needed two high end Specialized FSRs shipped next day, he had a CC number ready.
At this point you need a bell to go off and it is not the GREED bell. This is one of those things that falls in to the "To good to be true" column.
As luck would have it, our guys are not complete idiots and saw the con coming. They picked the guy for every bit of info they could get out of him. Then told him it would take time to arrange such a sale as we needed to assemble the bikes and then repack them to keep our dealer agreement(Wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
Now, What Do You Do?
Why you call the credit card company, they are being defrauded. Turns out the CC company could give a rats ass. "we don't do investigations" was their shrill call, "You must call the Police"

Do a quick Google search(PoPo, John Law, The Man) and call the first number that comes up.
It was a sad day, as at the other end of the line was Officer Himmel, of the Raleigh Police Department. Not only was he disinterested in a fraud of several thousand dollars, he was annoyed that we even contacted him. Seems we must have reached the secret number of the officer in charge of cafeteria at the RPD. And then called when he was busy with a rough salisbury steak crisis.
After much grumbling we finally got a number that had a receptive officer at the other end and we passed along all the info we had.
Then OJ went free, but seriously folks.

If you have a deal that just seems to good to be true, think about it. Don't think about the money. THE PRETTY GREEN MONEY, OH MY PRECIOUS, IT WANTS TO KEEP IT FROM.... Oop sorry. Anyway you get the idea. When someone contacts you from out of state, ready to pay right now with a credit card or money order, or wants to pay extra to "guarantee" the item, you want to think twice about the deal. If it sounds to good to be true, IT IS.

This all reminds me I need to do some stuff on buying/selling on Craigslist and Ebay. That should be up in the next week or two.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Down by Law

Yep, another review.
I got on this Jim Jarmusch kick a while back(2006) and put a bunch of his movies in my Netflix que. I like to spread my addictions out so I spaced them out in the 300 or so movies I keep in my que. Hot Tip: Keep lots of movies in your que then you don't have delays and it is always a surprise when you open that little red package.

This week the little red package held "Down by Law".
The movie dates back to 1986 and has a young looking Tom Waits as one of its cast members. Also on the roster are John Lurie, Ellen Barkin, and Roberto Benigni. As usual with a Jarmusch flick, the pacing is pretty deliberate, no crazy cut shots and lots of single camera work. But that works well as the focus is on the dialogue and interaction of the characters.
Shot in black and white, I have to admit I was hooked before the opening credit roll because of the beautiful footage of New Orleans. It really was that good.
The rest of the movie was also guite good. A bit of backstory on the lead characters leading to them both getting setup and winding up in Orleans Parish Prison. Where they meet Roberto. Followed by escape and resolution.
What can I say, the movie is worth watching. I don't want to just tell the tale, that would remove the need to watch it.
My rating: ***(Remember *** is as good as it gets)

Apologies thanks to Time Warner

I recently got talked into upgrading my Internet service by a Time Warner sales rep.
Little did I realise that "upgrade" is an euphemism "straight down the toilet"
Usually the problem is just fluctuation in speed, as low as 40kps. Last night it disconected for several hours. As these hours were the ones I use to be awake, nothing got posted. And the slowdowns have made it frustrating to do a complete entry with links and pictures.
But don't fret dear reader, I plan to keep this up if I have to haul a thumb drive to work for uploading and do my pictures in ASCII.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Beard Piercing

The Next Big Fad.

Started in the Bike Shop. Just like Fixed gear hipsterdom(Fixed gears not really created by New York hipsters in 2006)

Just to lighten the mood

Because yesterdays post might have been a little much for those not used to my(lack of)style.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The customer is always...Stupid?

That can't be right. 99% of customers are fine people. Some of them(7.3%) are even friends. However...
{{If you are the kind of person that believes the customer is always right and you also have no sense of humor(You look around when others laugh at Monty Python sketches) then you might want to change the channel, flip the page, hit the back button(To the Family Circus archive, no doubt) This is for everyone else

I had something all planned for this column, but then she walked in.
It was(key on WAS) a pretty Monday. Two employees short, busy as hell, but we were handling the situation.
She walked in, and grabbed the guy that just spent seven months being treated for leukemia, to help her get the bikes out of the SUV. I diverted her to another employee that has not spent the last half year bedridden.
He went out and got one of her two bikes, telling her to wait and he would get the other one. She failed to wait and cut her leg with the kickstand(Still extended for some reason? Must be handy when the bike is laying on its side in the back seat)while getting the second bike out. This was our fault, you see the obvious logic. We brought out bandaids and paper towels to no effect.

And the bikes were two.
The first bike, a Mongoose BMX bike. Rear wheel off, brake pads missing, bits askew.
The second bike, a Trek 4500, two flats, cables frayed, neglected.
She wanted tuneups. and I was letting another guy handle it. UNTIL, I heard her ask what she could sell them for. I had to jump in.
The mechanics worship of the almighty dollar, so often reported as the reason for our various scams and schemes, on the poor, easily swindled customer. Well that driving need was overcome. Overcome by what you ask? Overcome by the need to help a customer not screw themselves.

A TIP: Do not spend any money on the shitty old bike you found in the garage before you try to sell it on CraigsList. You will not earn this money back. You are wasting your money. Your plan will fail. You will blame the guy you paid to fix the bike. AND, it will NOT be his fault. Finger pointing, four fingers pointing back and all that.

So here we are at the jumping in point. I thought I was helping her out. Seems I was wrong.
She wanted to know what the bike was worth. She had bought it from us(Actually no. We have not sold Trek in 21 years) and we had told her earlier via phone that we did used bike values(This was a surprise to me and I have been here fifteen years)
We explained to her how to figure value by looking a past Ebay sales and looking on CL for similar bikes. This was inadequate.
So, trying to be helpful, I looked the Trek 4500 over and gave her my honest opinion(Based on selling used bikes via CL for several years) that the bike was worth about $150, maybe. I told her this was a good start point and gave her room to negotiate down(It later turned out she believed this bike to have been purchased for $699. Retail $$ are irrelevant in the used bike world, but not in the "crazy lady" world. Also, $280 new.). I also told her this was assuming the tires held air and that everything worked as it was supposed to. Then I asked, "Do the tires hold air" She replied, "No" I told her what we would charge to remedy this situation and that it would be better to try and sell the bike with flat tires because she WOULD NOT GET HER REPAIR INVESTMENT BACK.
That's right, I was turning down a repair, cash money, in what is usually the third slowest month of the year because it was in the customers best interest to do so. I could have, easy, lied about what the bike was worth and charged this woman(apologies to all other women) over $100(it needed more than tubes) for repairs she would never see a return on.
I tried to point out all the items that needed attention on the BMX bike. This was the bike that had to carried IN PIECES to the store.
My reward? A bitching out by proxy. Yes, she took it out on the guy that helped her bring the bikes back out to her car and load them. Read it again, after telling this woman, straight up, that she would be making a bad investment and helping her put everything back in her car. The best she could do was bitch out the person helping her. He is a counselor in the real world and tried to get her to talk about it. She refused, her foolish rage was not to be sated by cool logic. And off she went, no doubt to talk trash about the shop that refused to "help her"

I have spent the last twenty minutes massaging cut white onion in to my eyes trying to bring up a tear for this woman. NADA.

I decided to bring up a picture of the bike(she said she already had it listed on CL, and yes this is the actual bike. What you bet there is less than an inch of seatpost in that frame?)
Here she be:

You can't see it but there is a pump just out of shot, otherwise those puppies would be pancake flat. I considered posting a direct link to the ad. But I am not that big a dick, as I know the evils of the interweb.

There was a little satisfaction from this. When I looked this ad up, right after she left, the bike was priced at $250. When I just searched it again, to put up the picture, the bike was listed at $125. Looks like she must have talked to another bike shop out just to ruin her day and make no money.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I got a bad case of the CLAMP

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds-Emerson

Oh, man. Chuck is going all literary on us(Don't fret I left in some grammatical errors)
Anyway. Let that little phrase marinate til the close of my screed.
So I was down at BikeForums earlier and a young squire wanted to know if it was OK to clamp his carbon Cervelo by the top tube to do minor tasks like clean the bike or swap a wheel.
Having done this hundreds of times I could only tell him that if he was smart about it and only clamped the bike tight enough to keep it from falling to the floor it would be fine.
Of course, I was immediately beset by the hoard for my blasphemy. So was laid the foundation for this column.

I fix bikes for a living, as my three steady readers well know. I have worked on bikes, trikes, tandems, triples, high wheelers, unicycles, hand cycles, and wheel chairs. Part of that is getting the damn thing off the ground so you can get at all the bits and spin them around. But,...but you have to do it with out damaging the item of the moment. This is where NOT BEING STUPID comes in to play. You have to ask yourself a hard question, "Am I an idiot"? Be honest. You can even narrow it down, "Am I an idiot when it comes to all things mechanical"? If you are, that is OK, you are probably a great painter or maybe your Mom likes you. But if you answered "yes" to this question then you need to leave things like working on your bike, fixing a toaster, or hooking up a DVD player to the Pros(Or more competent amateurs)

For today, this revolves around the ability to clamp a bike with out crushing, breaking, or causing a possible severed limb. So we will focus on the humble repair stand clamp. Back in the early days when bikes only had two wheels, the repair stand was a pipe with a large washer welded about half way down its length and you removed the seat post, flipped the bike upside down and set it down on this post. It got the bike at point you could work on it standing up and it was in a position familiar to every kid that has every lubed a chain.
Then came the clamping stands. Most of these used a coarse screw to operate the clamp and the bike was held by the top tube. The clamps even had a groove for the rear brake cable to run thru(Park still has this on their clamps)
Then Park came out with their "Pro" clamp. This was like sliced bread(And if you don't think that stuff is great, make sandwiches for a week using a french loaf), In an instant the bike was in the stand ready to earn you a couple of bucks. Way better than the screw clamp, that had to be unscrewed far enough to get the tube in then screwed back down enough to hold the bike tight. And it would hold the bike good and tight. This was back in the day of steel frames and they were all pretty much the same size so you rarely needed to make much adjustment and the tubing was pretty thick so you had to be a real idiot to hurt the bike(Plus you were clamping the seat tube, the thickest tube, and you were usually clamping in an area that also had the beef of the seat post behind it. About the only thing you had to be careful of were decals, one twist of the frame and those dry transfer decals were toast.
But then came aluminum. Still not a big deal because most early aluminum frames were pretty burly,...til Cannondale. After Cannondale it became a VERY big deal to only clamp a bike by the seat post. As a Cannondale would often crack just from the force of gravity(I have owned a bunch of them) risking it to the curse of the CLAMP was begging for failure. However, if you were not stupid you could clamp a Cannondale by the seat tube or top tube with no ill effects.
There have also been some super thin, very easily damaged, steel tube sets out there but they never suffered from the hysteria of potential clamping failures. Maybe because a guy wanting an Aeromet frame was careful of his baby(Or he could afford to have an actual person hold it up while he worked on it)
Then we were visited by the gods of carbon(They already visited in the mid nineties, but nobody was ready for them then, Cadex anyone?)
These bikes came with huge stickers warning of the dire consequences of clamping the frames tubes with a repair clamp. Frame failure, hair loss, hammer toe. It was enough to make you think twice about even keeping the damn bike in the house. The cat might scratch it and it would explode, taking the breakfast nook with it.
The reality is you can clamp a carbon frame, as long as you are not an idiot. Don't clamp it tight, just use the repair stand to hold the bike at working height. The stand IS NOT a force receptacle for any of the tweaking and torqueing you might be doing to the bike. For that you need to hold onto the frame, or cranks, or whatever you are applying force to.
Be gentle. Be smart. Don't be an idiot.
And don't be a fool. There are "rules" to repair, set out to keep the inexperienced from doing something stupid or dangerous. If we followed all of these "rules" our bikes would never do anything but collect dust and dirty clothes as they cluttered the corner of the den.

Final quiz:
Clamp a soda can in your repair stand.

If it looks like this:

Proceed with bike repair

If it looks like this:

Start knitting career

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What really happens...

..when the customers are not around.
We do stuff like this:

That is a large plastic bag, snuggly affixed to the managers head with a rubber band, then inflated with the compressor. We then had him go to the grocery store and get lunch.
Another time, as condition of employment(not really), we taped a new employee into a bike box and he had to escape. Best part: He started struggling, knocking the box over just as a little kid came in to the store. The flopping box freaked the young lad out a fair bit.
This same employee also spent some time wearing "pigtails".

There is also the Sumo competition.

We have also built water rockets(using coke bottles, card board, and bike pumps), seen just how big a tube can get, tested the flammability of various items(and made a flame thrower), ghost ridden junk bikes off walls, had boffer wars, and it goes on.

You also need to be willing to work on rubber band balls. The rubber band ball is the heart of a bike shop. Every bike has a handful of rubber bands holding the bits on it when you pull it out of the box. You must(It is in the secret charter) make those rubber bands into a ball and expand that ball until it can go no further.

The ball pictured(Note the quarter for size reference, yes a quarter, not a nickel, we don't skimp at the bikeshop) is fifteen pounds, fourteen ounces. Just two more ounces and we can retire it. It will be tough, as we can barely get the bands around it now. But hope springs eternal. We had a junior ball in the works, but someone swiped it.
And yes, the doofus in every shot is our manager.
What can I say, hiring selection is done by interpreting a casting of broken bike parts on the shop floor. The person with the most recent, crash related, concussion does the interpretation.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Tool Time

I wanted to do this on Tuesday because I like alliteration. But Tuesday is ride night and it ran a little long(Another story, got to whore up my count somehow) Anyway, no writing got done last night, but plenty of thinking and I did take the pictures so the plan was there. Basically, I am planning for that professional writing career by pushing my hypothetical deadlines.
I really want to do a hand made tool every week, but I just have not made that many tools, so to fill the empty space I decided that there were some cool tools that not everyone might have seen.

First tonight is the KoolStop tire bead jack.

(Note the Yellow tape, far better than peeing on the tools to signify ownership.)

This is a great tool, every customer is amazed by it and lots of my shop buds have not seen one. It reduces mounting a Continental to a Matrix to a minor struggle. If you are old enough to get the Conti/Matrix reference, you are dirt like, as I am.
The way it works is to place the fixed part of the tool, against the rim and lever the tire bead on to the opposite side of the rim.(Yeah, that is a crappy description, look at the pictures)

Sadly, this only works on pretty narrow tires. Look for a Tool Time scratch build of one that will work on fatties. Hook Worm anyone?

Next we have a homemade tool. (I really wish I could make enough to do this every week but I am not that creative)
Some suspension forks have seals that are easy to install, so I have heard. Just about all the seals require either a special tool or prayer to get them in straight and not screwed. Just about every one makes a tool for their fork, so you can just buy the twenty different seal installers or you can make a pair of these.

This is a section of a Thomson seat post cut in half, then the end was flared to clear the lip part of the seal.
To use this wonder, you slide the seals(and the foam oilers)on to the stanchions, then you slide the (aptly named) sliders on to the stanchions. Now you place Chucks custom seal tool between the seal and the crown, place the fork on the floor and push down on the crown. Seal installed, Tah-Dah.

To make the installer all you need is to find some weight weenie that wants you to hacksaw a couple of inches off of his $100 seat post so he can save 15 grams. Now bisect the remnant and flare one end. I used a T-dolly and a ball peen hammer, but you can do it with a claw hammer and the horn part of a bench vise.
You can also make similar tools with PVC and a dremel tool

Monday, September 29, 2008

Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession

I can see you are saying to yourself, "Why is that Chuck doing another movie review? This a bikeshop column, dang it"
Well, this is the kind of stuff we talk about at work. When you are around bikes all day long, as great as they are, you sometimes need to find other topics.
Today's selection, Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession, is ostensibly about Z Channel (go figure) the first pay cable channel that was started in Los Angeles in the early 70s. What this documentary is really about is Jerry Harvey, who came to be their lead programmer. He was a movie fanatic, loving all genres, and wanting every one to share the bounty hidden by limited release and shoddy, post director, editing. It starts with his work at a local Cinema and runs right up to his death by suicide.
The story is told thru vintage LA footage, stills, old taped interview clips, interviews with actors, directors, and Friends, and clips from movies shown on Z.
The interviews include Robert Altman, Quentin Tarrantino, James Woods, and Penelope Spheeris(accompanied by the only footage I have seen of "The Decline of Western Civilization" in years. (But it looks like The Decline might be available finally. A must watch for any punk fan)
But the big deal, the best part, is the clips. Oh all those little, to short clips. I like movies a lot but for every movie i had heard of or seen, there were ten I had not. I found my self thinking, " I am going to have to watch this again with a note pad to scribble them all down. Fortunately, they were all listed in the credits. Even better than that, I found them listed on IMDB: Z Channel movie list.
*** All around. Give it a watch, then add all those movies to your NetFlix que.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tufo tape makes my brain hurt

That's right, when I see Tufo tape I want to place a knotted handkerchief on my head and smash it with bricks(see: Monty Python)
I started the bike biz in an age when it took talent to glue a tubular so it would not fall off in the first corner. Back then we used Fast Tack.

This stuff was a trim adhesive made by 3M. It was designed to hold trim parts on the exterior of a car,... FOREVER.
Around the year 2000, just before all the computers died in Y2K(Remember that?) Continental produced a test(A NOT independent test, from guys that also make tubular glue) showing that Fast Tack caused the cotton tape on the tubular to release from the tire. My personal testing showed that this might happen after you flatted and struggled to remove, said glued tire, from the rim. This was because the Fast tack held so tight all you could was rip the cotton off the tire. And give your self a conniption in the process. I never used anything but Fast Tack and I never had a tire come off. Or even loose, hell, you just about had to dynamite the damn things off(I pulled lots of my own flatted tubulars, but that is for another story about crappy, cheap tubulars)
So then I stated using Continental tubular tape. Not because I believe that hype, but my customers do, and they have all the money. By the way Conti glue looks, smells, acts, and tastes(Yes, I am that hardcore)just like Fast Tack.
All of this is beside the point. I just wanted some reference for this:

Tufo tape is pretty amazing. It takes only minutes to apply, and once the tire is installed is ready to ride. No mofe waiting overnight for it to dry. Or crossed fingers for no delams, if you had to go right then.
Back in the glue the tire on days, You wanted to let the tire stretch for a day, then the process of applying glue was good for a half hour or so. Then you need to let them bond up.(God forbid you used Tubasti, that shite will still be taking a tack the end of next week)
Tufo tape is also pretty easy to clean off, for those of us that spent one winter trying to cheap out on tubulars and got some practice time gluing them on a half dozen times in the space of two months(Not a big fan of Conti Giros anymore)
There are two kinds, the regular and the Extreme(Make hard rock hand motion here). It says right on the box that the regular, in the yellow box, is only good for up to 73 degrees(I may be confused on Celsius and Fahrenheit, but I remember it as Fahrenheit)This is pretty low for anyplace in the US. And I do have first person confirmation of the yellow box tufo coming loose after the wheels had een left in a car on a summer day.
Just in case you are wondering, your tubulars deglueing is very bad. When it happens mid ride, you can have what we here call, "A Trip to the Hospital".
So I just use the Extreme tape. I have yet to have the stuff come loose and the only down side is I feel like a traitor to the faith every time I use the stuff. This is made all the worse by how great it works. Gone is the badge of honor, those hands with the tacky fingers, the spider strings of glue covering the back half of the shop, the pride in mounting a tire perfect with out a single smudge of adhesive on the rim(I knew a guy so bad at this, the glue on the rim would lock up the wheel, bonding the brake, in a near permanent fashion to the rim surface)
This stuff really is hard to beat for the home user. As long as they are not to tight fisted(the Extreme is pricey)any one can now mount a tubular.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Now that's a snake bite

Check that out. It would be hard to do better with a power stapler. It is pretty cool, in a, "Cool it did not happen to me" fashion how you can get a puncture like this. What happens is the the front tire gives the staple or nail(or whatever) a spin, like snapping a bottle cap and the rear tire gets all the fun.
The Mom that brought this in thought her kid was full of it when he said the had a big staple in the tire. Surprise.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wednesday is Thursday, but first Tuesday

Ah, Tuesday. I did my planned ToolTime, neglecting the carefully crafted(Anyone actually on that ride, Shut Up)First Fall Ride we had that night.
As everyone knows, Fall started this past Monday just before lunch. Therefore, the Tuesday night ride MUST be a fixed gear ride, for training season has begun(Except for the nutjobs that cyclocross, their race season is just about to begin.)
Only three brave souls showed up for this epic ride thru the outskirts of down town Raleigh. Wait, scratch that. Only two brave souls showed up and one guy with, with, ... A Freewheel? Oh, he thought we would not spot it. But that clicking sound and the distinct lack of pedaling were hard to miss. The fixed gods glared upon him with even greater disdain than we two of the faith. I name him here, Bryan. Oh, did Bryan suffer the wrath. First his double wireless computer refused to log his mileage(Who puts a computer on a fixed anyway?) Then his pump fell off and I ran over it. (My high-light of the evening) Finally he complained of a loose headset only to find his front brake about to come off(I had nothing to do with it) All in all, an amusing ride was had.

Now to Wednesday. In theory a day off. I got a haircut just to remind me of how bald I am going. Then off the shop for a tune/tape/computer install. I had to do this on my day off because Interbike is this week and we are a little shortstaffed. The bright side of this little side trip was it put me close to some trails and I got my Trance dialed in while there. I ended up with the fork at half body weight minus 10% and the shock at body weight plus 10% This gave great compliance with minimal bob.
Then to the ChuckCave to rebuild a fork for a Friend. This was a RockShox Dart 3. These are super easy to rebuild. Also, after putting it back together and checking it out I noticed how easy it is to see what the fork is doing when you play with adjustments like the rebound and lock out. So next time you pull the fork off your bike play around with the adjustment while actioning the fork against the floor. It might train your brain to what is happening when you turn the knobs.

Watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I had seen this movie as a kid on The Tube, but never uninterrupted and uncut. This flick was just as freaky as I remember. The scene with the paddle boat thru the tunnel, a kids movie? Really? Still got to give it *** even if it is a musical. In my defense, it does have Gene Wilder in it.

Today, Thursday, was pretty slow, amusement wise. Good thing that my intertubes needed rootering yesterday, or I would be left posting pictures of flats from around the world to fill the void.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I truly aplologise. I will not have a fresh post tonight. My internet connection is shite(Somebody punch a roadrunner in the face) Also It is a movie nite(review to follow) and I have been commanded to, "Make Popcorn".
I cannot even provide a cool picture, because of the slowdown. In its place please run out and buy the October issue of WIRED. It has a great story on Weird Al starting on page 194. (I need to add him to my favorite music list)
Back tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tool Time

Here are a couple of tools you can make that will ease life, save scant seconds, and make you a more well rounded person just by constructing them.
Unless you enjoy informing clueless Friends, the first is pretty much just a shop tool.
Prepare to make: A Presta/Schrader Display. You just need a section of old rim, a drill, a couple of drill bits and some old tubes. You want to cut a section of rim that includes two spoke holes.
Drill one of the holes out to 1/4" This is the Presta valve hole. Drill the other hole out to 21/64" This is the Schrader hole. Remember 21/64" just in case you get a burning urge to convert some rims, American style(Little known fact: I was named after the Schrader air fitting.)
Now you want to cut a Presta and a Schrader valve out of a couple of old tubes(Or one tube if you can find a dual use tube) Stuff them into the appropriate holes and thus, you have made the Presta/Schader Display

Next we have the chain holder. There are more pictures here. Not because I think the non-bikeshop brained need them but because I hope the bikeshop equipped needed no photo instruction for the Presta/Schrader Display.
This is a great gadget for whenever you need to do something to your chain. Pop a pin, fix a twist, install/remove a master link. This will be your ToolFriday.
You only need a spoke(broken), some dikes(that would be diagonal cutters), and some pliers.

So first go out and crash hard to get that broken spoke. Now you want to bend it just over 90 degrees. Move about two inches from the bend and bend it again back towards the first bend. Snip off the extra.

Check out this awesome tool in action.

Our last project is from an idea I got when I had a bad case of itchy ear. It is the variable depth-roto-ear rooter. You merely need a Q-tip, dikes(again), and variable speed drill(Use a cordless for convenience)
Simply snip one end from the Q-tip and chuck it in a handy drill.

As you can see here, you can easily vary the cleaning ability of the ear rooter.

After using this incredible device I can hear the squeek of a dry chain from a block away. And so far the only down side has been intense migraines and a chronic ear infection.

Monday, September 22, 2008

How do I like the Trance?

I like it alright. Better than alright. Do you like to ride all kinds of trail, from smooth windy singletrack, to rough rocky downhills? Do you like to be able to ride to the trail with out bobbing like a hobby horse? Do you like no popping Aleive like PEZ after a ride? I do.
The three ride locations were Rocky Road, Lake Crabtree, and the Newlight trails.
Rocky Road is a semilegal trail(Meaning it is illegal but the trespassing is not enforced, usually. If you ride here and get busted, I had nothing to do with it) The trail mixes sweet flowing(for short, frustrating distances) single track, rocky downhill, and abusive rooty climbs.
Lake Crabtree is all twisty singletrack, pretty smooth with some rooty sections, and short easy climbs.
Newlight trails is the longest of these three. It has some good smooth singletrack, lots of rocky sections, longer climbs thru rough rooty/rocky sections, rock piles, log obstacles. Overall the hardest of the three trails.
I have already gone over suspension setup. The only other thing I did was set my tire pressure. I went by feel, but the pressure is between 30-35 psi. The tires are Kenda Nevegals and hooked up well at this pressure. They stuck to loam, roots, and rocks and the open blocks cleaned everything but dog poop.
My last two bikes were a Giant Two2One,
a single speed with front suspension and a Cannondale M800,
a full rigid technical trail bike. So this dual spring thing was new to me.
The Trance is just 2.5 pounds heavier than the Two2One and you don't even notice that because it tracks so well and soaked up everything the trail could throw at it. I was much faster thru the rough sections. Fast enough to get in over my head a couple of times. The suspension managed to soak up my mistakes with the only crash from a washed out wheel. Lowering the front tire pressure helped this a bunch.
I am used to the laser sharp tracking of my Cannondale and never thought a FS could compare. I was wrong. This bike goes where you point it and when you point it the wrong way it goes anyway. So for the twisty single track, job well done.
Now for the rough downhill stuff(And yes, I know this is not like doing the down hill at Sugar) What we were riding was fairly steep, rocky, with stepped drops up to around a foot. I could run over this stuff in full control, with no scary moments. Makes you wonder how Greg Herbold did it on a Mag21 and two inches of travel.
Now we come to the climbing. The Maestro(What Giant calls their suspension linkage) set up is supposed to reduce bobbing. Even they admit it does not eliminate it. When seated, it works really well. But for the rougher climbs featuring lots of rooted steps, I needed to get out of the saddle.I feel I do, this could be a matter of needing to retrain my riding style after years of full rigid bike. Out of the saddle I got more bobbing than I would like. This could be due to not getting to fully tune the suspension yet. I was able to reduce it using the Propedal feature, but I want to try and get the Maestro working as advertised. I know the fork was set a little to stiff and giving me some trouble bucking off of roots rather than compressing into and over them, and this was forcing me to get out of the saddle and do more lofting to clear obstacles. I was not thrilled with this performance, but I need to have some time to get the bike setup better(and maybe work on my technique) before I pass a final judgement on the rough climbing ability.
Overall a great bike, at the end of the ride I was beat tired not beat up. Good parts choice, tho I would have liked adjustable blow off on the fork and adjustable compression damping. I would also have liked tubeless tires to match the tubeless wheelset.(No slam on the Nevegals, they performed well.) The bike is as light as anything you will find with five inches of travel, and looks damn good to boot.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Back to the Trance

I got to take theTrance out again today. We went to The Newlight Trails A great mixture of fun and tough. Lots of short rooted climbs for an old man(That would be me) to tackle and I am clapped out(Not a reference to an STD). So this, the Trance story, may run to a three parter.
Back to setting up the suspension. I know this is not specific to the Trance, but I get asked a lot about doing set up so this seemed as good a time as any to include it, and it applies to all suspension setup. Yesterday I talked about setting sag and setting rebound. Today we will go into compression damping.

By the way the controlled action of the suspension is damping, not dampening. Dampening happens when you wash your bike. And quit putting a "U" in stanchion. One more, don't pout when you find out you cannot pump up your shock with a floor pump.

Back to compression. This is the controlled motion of fork in the compressing (when you hit a bump) direction. Most forks/shocks do not have adjustable compression. If you are one of the lucky few, you want to set it up so that the fork/shock reaches full compression on the hardest thing you hit. This makes set up easy for a course but harder for general riding. However, most people ride in the same places all the time so you should have a good idea of where the big boys are. I wish that more suspension had this adjustment because, if you are fully compressing the fork, often the only fix is to increase the preload(More air or bigger spring). Even upping the weight of fork oil does not help much(It is good if you need to increase rebound more than the adjustment allows) The big problem with increasing spring rate to solve a compression problem is that it reduces your sag. You don't want to reduce sag much because this is what helps keep the wheel planted. The suspension needs to be compressed a little so when you go over a hole or other drop the wheel can quickly move into it and retain grip. This also reduces the jarring on the rider.
In the case of the shock on this bike, a Fox Float RP23, there is also a Propedal lever with three settings. What this does is increase the initial compression damping. This helps when you ride mixed trail with rough and smooth sections. You can get out of the saddle and sprint with minimal rear suspension movement but when you hit a big root or rock it will move past this high damping and into the normal rate. The three settings let you pick just how hard a hit it takes to get out of Propedal. The fork, a Fox 32 F120RL, has a similar feature with its lock out, but there is only one setting.

So, I set my bike up based on my 180 pound weight(I am trying to correct this by growing another two inches, which reminds me of a Richard Pryor joke) 90psi in the fork and 180psi in the shock. A sag check showed me in the ballpark. I dropped the pressure in the shock to increase sag a touch(This later proved to be a mistake as stiction was screwing up the sag a bit) Then I increased the air pressure a little in the fork. This also was a little bit of a problem but I had test ridden down a stair case and it felt to soft(Have you been paying attention? How would I fix this? That is right more compression damping, however that knob is missing from this bike) Turns out this made the fork a little to stiff and the sensation I was feeling, being tossed over the bars, was better alleviated by increasing the rebound on the shock. This slowed the rear down so it did not feel so much like it was catapulting me. Unfortunately I did not get to play with the pressure for the actual ride as my pump was resting securely in the tool box, where it could not be stolen(or used).
Alright, I have to call it it a night and fall out before I fall down. To paraphrase Bullwinkle, "Tomorrow, for sure"

Saturday, September 20, 2008

First ride with the Trance

Finally. After waiting for two months to get the bike and a week and a half to get a chance to ride it, we went out. I thought it was going to be a no-go as there was a customer taking their sweet time buying a bike and a half dozen people standing in bike gear and talking about how great it would be to get to go for a ride together for the first time in a while, if it did not get dark to soon, had no observable effect. But that column is for another day.

So. The Trance X 0. I got this bike a little over a week ago. No chance to ride due to weather and other obligations. I spent some time setting up the suspension. Good thing I had time, because the the Fox instruction is pretty much limited to, "You need 15-20% sag" Yeah, thanks. How about some freaking starting numbers. I don't expect Fox to give a word for word explanation of the setup with full color photos and a roll out mat of test obstacles. But how about a damn starting point. An, " If you weigh this, try this pressure for a start point" You are not going to find that ANYWHERE in Fox setup. Thank goodness you have me. Fox wants you to look for specific a sag measurement. So to do it their way you will need to increase the shock/fork pressure in one pound increments until you get the number you are looking for. I, however, have some ball park numbers, that will get you started and they are easy to remember. For the fork start with half your body weight. I have tried this with both Float and Talas forks to good effect.
For the shock. This is for the air sprung Float shocks, use body weight(Your body weight, I get to ask women how much they weigh all the time. Sag does not lie, sag is the only one not lying)
These numbers are only a starting point. You will still need to tune for the right sag. Around 15% for cross country, 20% for fun riding(The best kind), and up to 25% for freeride or downhill(This is usually only with really long travel bikes)
Another thing to keep in mind when you set up your new suspension is that there is stiction with a new bike because everything is not broken in yet. You can try whispering gently in to your bikes ear but stiction will remain a problem(for setup) until the suspension breaks in.
Now set up your rebound(and compression if it is adjustable) I set my rebound at the half way point and tune from there. I do this based on how the suspension feels to me. The easiest way to describe it is to bouncy(or not bouncy enough, this is packing up) If the bike feels bouncy then you need more rebound. Rebound is the return speed of the fork after being compressed, just to clarify that. I might have been a little quick and as I get better at this, I hope to lay out this stuff a little better. If the susoension keeps getting shorter after running over a set of stutter bumps(Around here that is an old potato field), then you need to reduce your rebound.
Tomorrow I will get into the compresion setup, more on rebound, sag, and how the bike actually worked. The big plus for my contrived suspense is one more day of riding to get my thoughts together and play with the setup.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Jersey Girl

Well, Jersey Girl drew the short straw.
I pretty much only have a three asterix rating system: *** I liked it ** I didn't like(mostly) but kept my fingers crossed for something good so give it a shot. * I turned it off and watched a CSI rerun.
I have to give this flick ***. I enjoyed it. The only reason I can see bad reviews is that thirty somethings that still revel in how awesome Clerks was were pissed this did not have multiple in jokes involving Star Wars and oral sex. And Clerks was great, but maybe Kevein Smith has grown as a writer/director since 1994. I mean, just look how he learned how to pan and track with the camera(JK, I love you Kevin)
Just in case you are worried you only have to SPOILER{{ tolerate JLo for about twenty minutes}}Spoiler.
This movie will grab ahold of your heart strings if you have any. If you are heart string deficient give The Rundown a try(Also gets ***)
Worth watching, good direction, great dialogue. Not one for beer nite with the guys but a good choice for an evening with that special someone(s)
I almost forgot, great performance from George Carlin. Really brought me back to his earlier stuff before he got so angry. I miss him.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I finally got a ride in!!

Just a short one. A trip to the bank. It has been a couple of weeks since I got to do more than run a repair around the block. This was a real ride(Longer than twenty minutes, dressed as bike doofus. I even wore my Metropolis )
It was beautiful, pretty day, nice temp, low humidity. The only mar to the trip was the dude in the Explorer that passed me and turned right. Well he did not really pass me as my elbow was touching his front fender. The only thing I can figure is that he passed me unaware of my presence(Damn, my innate Ninja abilities) Then finished his text message and realized his turn was up. Good thing his text was short and he noticed me just as he started to turn and braked. My abilities as a hood ornament are limited as I have not been chromed.
The rest of the ride was great. I even got to walk right up to the teller(First time ever) and hit the green on the way out of the bank(Another first)
Every one remember just how invisible you are. Be careful and go ride. Got to go, time to watch a movie. It will either be Jersey Girl(Sorry,I'm a Kevin Smith fanboy), Down by Law, or Channel Z(A documentary). Critique to follow.

Don't call it a comeback

No one likes to admit mistakes. I had a hard time wrestling over this column, just because I hate to admit I screwed up as much as anyone else does. Maybe even more because my rep is founded on the ability to get it right, no matter what, over and over. Sadly, that just does not happen. As much as I hate to admit it I am not perfect, no one is.

What am I talking about? The comeback(There are two types). This is when you perform a repair and it is not done right. There is a problem of some kind and the customer is unhappy. It embarasses me, reflects poorly on the shop, and leaves the customer pissed.
Don't believe some of the hype you see on the web. Most repair guys, in any field, try their level best to get it right. If for no other reason than they don't want to listen to the customer complaints followed by the bitching of the boss. A double whammy, made worse for me because I am the boss. When I screw up, the mental beat down I give my self over the next week is merciless. For most of us the reason to do quality work is just that, quality. We have pride in what we do and it shames us when we fail in that task.

The idea for this tale came from a recent comeback. I did a repair that involved reinstalling a front brake. I put the brake back on, set it up(adjusting clearance/setting pad height)and sent the bike out. Two days later, the bike came back. The brake caliper came off. IT CAME FUCKING OFF?! I got no sleep that night. First, I was glad the guy did not get hurt, but honestly almost all thought was on, "How the hell did this happen"! I was trying to run back thru the repair. What had I missed? Did I, somehow, just forget to tighten the binder bolt? I was going thru all the steps around the key tightening of this bolt(Actually it is a nut, the bike biz uses it own wordset for some reason)My practice and the practice I drill into my minions(Yes minion, they voted that over flunky) is to always tighten what you are working on before stopping.
Stopping is key in the bikeshop biz. We get stopped all the time, to answer the phone, to greet the next dude in the door, to sell a bike. There are only two or three people working in most small shops, doing everything is part of the job, you spend all day stopping and starting.
Back to topic, I tell everyone to make sure the bolt/screw/nut is tight. Even if it is crooked get the damn thing tight. Crooked is better, in my opinion, because it gives you a start point when you finally get off the phone after ten minutes giving directions to someone that is less than 500 yards from the shop.
Back to start, did I make sure the nut was tight to start with? That is my habit(20+years habit) probably did, but still, it fell right freaking off. Next, I do my centering on the brake. This is just making sure the arms(side pull brake) are even. This is so you can set the pad height. Every one of these things should show a loose brake, but I need to be more careful, because this time it did not.
Then there was the headset check. When ever you put a bike on the floor, after a repair, you always grab the front brake and rock the bike. This is a the last head set check. If it is loose at all, you will feel it here. How I missed a loose brake(the front brake) here I don't know.
Finally, THE BOUNCE. The bounce is the classic bike shop mechanic move. We bounce the bike on the floor. Beleive me, if anything is loose, it will get heard here. Everything from a loose presta nut to a loose seat will show in this simple test(Trade secret, don't tell) I got nothing on this bike.
Even now a week later, after replacing the damaged brake and going over the whole bike checking everything twice, I am still trying to figure out the mistake(or mistakes)I made that caused this to happen. The bright side is that this kind of thing brings back, in HD clarity, that you need to be careful and pay attention to the big picture and the details when working on someone elses bike.

Now we come to the second kind of comeback. This is the comeback where you have performed a repair, often as long as a year ago, and the bike has had a failure of some kind after this repair. As you were the last to touch the bike in a professional capacity, any failure must be your fault.
Usually this revolves around flat tires. If you repair a front flat, pray, PRAY, that this bike does not have a rear deraileur issue in the next twelve months, for it will be your fault. Scratch that.If you repair thhe front flat, it better not have a rear flat because that poor tube with its sudden increased porosity, will be all your fault. This is the best reason to keep records of all repairs.
This portion of the sermon will be shorter than the portion where I was at fault. But with more examples and funnier.
Repaired flat front tire, later blamed for: flat rear tire, poor shifting, skweeky brake, loose seat.
Performed tune up, blamed for tacoed wheel and bent fork.
Aligned der hanger and adjusted der, blamed for bent hanger(In this case I watched the guy shove the bike into his car and slam the hatch down on the drive train.
This is one of my favorites: I was once accused of replacing a headset topcap with an exact duplicate. That's right. Someone accused me of replacing a part with the exact same part.

The hard part in all these comebacks is that you have to calm the customer and keep them happy without it costing the shop to much. As much as it hurts to do a repair for free, it is often easier to just fix the issue rather than start an arguement with someone that has already shown they have a(several) missing logic circuit(s).
The same day of the brake issue(mea culpa) I had a customer bring a bike in, that was over a year old, complaining that their chain had broken as a result of our tune up(more than two months prior). After a discussion of what had happened, I found that the husband(Who had not ridden the bike before) had taken it out and made a shift under load while climbing a hill. The forensic probe(sorry just watched CSI) of the bike had shown this. The chain was popped like you would snap a pencil in two. The front der was twisted in the direction of a down shift.
The riders story, combined with evidence on the bike, and with experience(chains don't fail, like this, with no outside influence) all led to the logical conclusion. The guy did not know how to ride a bike. Unfortunately, "You, my good sir, are an idiot" does not pan out well. So I replaced the damaged link with a SRAM master link, explained how to shift and when, and sent the couple on their merry way. I kept the customers, they had gained some knowledge(Maybe), and I had passed another lesson in anger management(When I am wrong I feel like pooh. When you screw up and treat me like the idiot I seethe. I hid it quite well)

So, think about all this before you jump on bikeforums to complain about a problem with your bikeshop. Maybe if you brought the bike back to the shop before lighting up on the web, everyone would end up happy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Another day at th...

Oh, wait. I have the day off.

This is what I realized about ten seconds after I leapt out of bed, cursing, fist lifted to heaven at the gods of crappy alarm clocks. Turns out I had turned it off because I did not need to get up at the crack of 8:00 a.m. Ha-hah.

Anyway. I thought I would talk a little about the exciting day a bike mechanic has when loosed from the chain of labor(There actually is a chain with handcuff bolted to the repair stand. It chafes me so.)

Lots of stuff going on, but first: I GOT A NEW BIKE. Awesome, yes!
Shown here with some old freinds and using this crazy technique where I turned the camera sideways.

It showed up last week, but I was not doing this then so we talk about it now. This is a Giant Trance X 0, five inches of travel, Fox dampers, Mavic CrossMax wheels(Strangely missing tubeless tires), XT/XTR. I only had to sell one other bike and donate blood three times to get this bike. I have been riding a Giant TWO2ONE(The bike I sold). It was a great bike but the lack of gears was tough when riding with my buds and the lack of rear suspension was a killer on some of the trails we ride(The aptly named Rocky Road for example). Then I got a chance to ride a Specialized FSR. Should not have done that. It turned me to the dark side. I started looking around for a full suspension bike. At first I was looking for an FSR. That thing went so great I got in over my head, crashed hard, missed four days of work and spent a month in physical therapy. That kind of fantastic is hard to ignore, I HAD to get one. Problem is there were not to many(read:NONE) around. I did come across an FSR Pro frame, but hemmed and hawwed to long and someone else grabbed it. Not really a problem, as I did not have any of the parts to fit it up anyway. So I started looking at the Giant bikes. I tried out a Trance X 2 that we had at the shop. It was great. Only real problem, no tubeless wheelset. But wait, there was the Trance X 0. It had tubeless and nicer parts all the way around. Only problem, THERE WERE NONE. That is right freind at home. No bike for Chuck, hard worker and keeper of the flame. But then, but...then. Karma smiled, a rep had an X 0 that had been used as a display bike for National Geographic, Never Ridden. In My Size. Below wholesale(More on this in a minute)* And still I hemmed and hawwed. This time no one else was looking and when I finally got off my ass, it was still sitting safely under a protective layer of dust. I told the Rep to bring it on. Two months later, it was mine. Yes, I missed two months of prime riding waiting for my bike to show up. The bike shop guys get to wait for stuff just like every one else. So I don't want to hear any bitching about your Knog flasher taking six days to show up(You know who you are)

Sad part. I have had this bike for seven days and have not ridden it farther than the driveway. Rain(trails closed), work(My boss will not just let me run free), and dark(every twelve hours like clockwork). The suspension is ready to go, saddle set, levers angled, still needs a Red Lantern(My logo) sticker, otherwise waiting for go time.

*Bike shop employees often get bikestuff at or below whole sale. To the non bikeshop person this seems horribly unfair. We feel the same way about the non bikeshop people getting things like: healthcare, a living wage, vacation, and a lunch break. That's right, a lunch break. I have not eaten an uninterupted sit down lunch in fourteen years, but I did get a sweet deal on my new bike.

Another day at th... Part Dos

The last post was supposed to be about my action packed day off. Kinda veered off a little there. Hey, new bikes are exciting.

Anyhoo, I usually go for a couple hour ride on my day off but I left my road bike at work because it was raining last night and I can't mountian bike because all the trails are closed. So I decided to go for a..., a.... Dammit, a run. Oh how I hate thee, one foot in front of the other, again and again. You pretty much have to be Forest Gump to actually enjoy it. Grabbing the only dog(Faye) that likes to run, we went out for a couple of miles. I also got a great upper body work out as Faye is a feral dog and not fully trained yet(Can I go left? Can I go right? Can I go back? repeat)

So I thought I would bring up my dogs. everyone likes to talk about their kids and everyone else loves to listen(That is B.S. I know. Tough)

Here is Faye. She is our newest and sweetest. Does she not look cute in this picture? Just so you know, It toook 23 tries to get one shot with her looking at the camera. We got her from a rescue. She was a feral they caught, and we were the lucky? recipients. Today we went for a run(Til I found some abandoned rebar, I had to grab that. In addition to being a sucker for dogs and working on bikes, I also do metal sculpture. Can't pass up free art supplies) Then it was time for heavy duty brushing. You could power the world if you could harness the ability of a Husky to shed.

Next we have Grey also known as the PoohBear. Found him at the pound, being a huge Road Warrior fan, I could not say no to this very intense cattle dog. I have had him ten years and he still acts like a pup. Today we got some intense ball chasing done as well as brushing time.

Finally bath time with Schultz, AKA The Stink. Another feral dog, this little buzzard ran into the house when my wife opened the door to check out a pack of dogs running thru the yard. Yes, I live in an area where packs of feral dogs run thru your yard. And there is gunfire(Not kidding).

He has a skin condition and needs to be bathed more often than I do(maybe not quite)

Another day in th... Part Tres

Still the day of rest is not done. Nor has it involved much rest. My wife is having a problem with her car, a Honda. I believe it may be a fuel pressure issue and whip out my trusty fuel pressure tester. Only to find no port to test with. Hmmm. I run down to the local Zone. They don't got one, never seen one. I call my oldschool parts shop Loop Rd Auto Parts. They don't have an adaptor either. The closest Honda dealer is almost an hour away. That is not going to happen. The solution? Make my own adaptor. The bike related part is where I silver solder the parts together(That is how frames were made before alluminum).

I present how to make a fuel rail adaptor for a Honda.

First you need a 6x1mm capscrew 20mm long and a 1/4" flare union. The tester part, that will not work with a Honda, is shown with them.

Now you want to cut one of the nipples off the flare union, remove the zinc plating from the capscrew, and file them both nice and smooth.

Now you drill a hole thru the 6mm bolt.

Finally silversolder the two pieces together.

Now you can find out that the fuel pressure was not a problem. Just like I did. Oh well.

I promise to be back, full on, with bike only prattle tomorrow.