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.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

FB hubs

Here we have a couple of FB hubs. I got them in from a customer that wanted them swapped to bolt on axles rather than the quick release set up they had. There were some beautiful vintage Campagnolo quick releases equipped and the customer thought they were Campy hubs.

Being of inquisitive inclination, I had to look them up. Turns out "FB" is not part of Campy but another company, Fratelli Brivio. Still Italian(Never guess from the name), these are some very cool vintage track hubs. They used a three piece setup with alloy flanges and a steel hub. These hubs probably date to around the mid thirties(Pretty cool).

I beleive these had been converted to QR at some point using old slotted axles, cut down(judging from the hacksaw marks) and a mish-mosh of cones and spacers. Altho it is possible they came with Campy butterfly QRs. I am redoing them for use in a track frame. I will be using stainless axles and replacing cones with modern parts as needed. The rear axle is 9.5x26 and I went thru Wheels Man. for the cones(and the axles). I will also need to set up the spacing but I need to get the frame, BB, and crank for that.

It is really great when this vintage stuff comes thru. Here are a couple more pics at Classic Rondezvous

Monday, September 15, 2008

Just a test

I wanted to make sure pictures linked up ok. Here(I hope) is a lovely shaft drive bike from 1897. It is a fixed gear(All the kids want one), and has wooden wheels with sewups. Sadly no branding, so I don't know the maker{{CORRECTION: I asked my Boss and this bike is a Columbia. Next time I will do more questioning prior to posting}}. Used in the Young Indy tv series, this one belongs to my boss.

chainless bike young indy

Well, crap. Where is the other half of my bike?

Shall we try again?


Hmmm. Ah, success. There it is up at the top. I leave my mistakes for all to see. Plus, I am lazy

"I had to walk six miles", a flat story

How many times have I heard that or a variation there of? Todays tale comes from a regular. A regular because he comes in every time he gets a flat. Today he had to walk six miles from the trail to the shop, seems all his freinds have him on call block during his riding hours. This happens A LOT. We are supposed to learn from our mistakes, maybe not.

This guy refuses to even carry a tube with him. As a general rule, cyclists being the salt of the earth and all, we will give you a tube and help you install it if we happen by while you are standing in your puddle of inept. But when you have an oddball size, in this case a 29er, you need to at least carry a tube. Actually carry a tube, whatever the size, don't be a mooch.

Next, get a pump. Buy two, a little one and a big one. You get the little one to clip on your bike so when you flat on the trail you can pump the replacement tube(More on this in a minute). You get the big one so you don't give your self tennis elbow trying to keep your tires topped off.

That's right you need to pump them up often. Pretty much every time you ride. Tubes are porous, that means they will lose air over time. Skinny tires lose air pressure fast, high pressure, low volume. Fat MTB tires go down more slowly because the pressure is lower and there is a larger volume of air in the tube.

Again, you need to pump them up often, that big pump makes this a lot easier. It will also help to keep you from ripping the valve stem out of the tire like you will eventually do if you use a mini pump every time. (Owning only a mini pump is the sign of a masochist)

Alright, you have yourself a flat. You pop the wheel off(Need to have a talk about that, maybe later in the week) pull off the tire. WAIT, how do you get the tire off. You need some tire levers to go with your pump and spare tube. They are going to come in a pack of three. Many have wondered why this is. I will tell you. You are going to get pissed trying to remove that tire and throw one of those levers into the woods, fortunately you will stil have two. Another secret, the hook is so you can pop the bead and hook the lever in place to one of the spokes, then you use the second lever to continue working the bead from the rim.

You have the tire, just pop that new tube in and you are ready to go. WRONG. You need to figure out what caused the flat. Now if you ignored the third paragraph up there, and you just cased a rock or curb you have pinched the tube. Mashed it against its self hard enough to poke two holes in it. This is a snake bite, a mark of shame showing an unloved steed. If you had plenty of air and did not hit anything, it is time to look for the sharp. Just run your fingers around the inside of the tire and when you start bleeding you have found it. That is my way of saying be careful, if something can punch a hole in a tire, it can do the same to your tender epidermis. I have seen the use of cotton balls reccomended, this is great if you flat in the bathroom. Just run your fingers gently around the inside of the tire while looking closely at the outside. you will often see a thorn or piece of glass before you get poked. Wire is another story. I have shoved a piece so far into a finger that I pulled it out of the tire when I yanked my hand away. It was awesome.

Now you want to put some air in your new tube, put it in the tire and install one bead on the rim. You get extra cool points if you align the valve stem with the logo and have the logo on the drive side. Also there is a secret handshake. Now slide on the second bead. Do this with only your fingers and the power of your mind. Luke could not use a crane, don't you go using tire levers(You might pinch the tube). Pump the tire up, stopping once the tire starts taking shape to make sure the bead is not coming off. On the other hand blowing a tire off the rim is a good way to make everyone duck and cover.

And don't forget to remove the big green thumbtack from your tire before you come back in the shop complaining about the defective tube you just bought.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

local news on commuting

Just a quickie. The local TW station is running a short story on bike commuting. Check it out here:

Gotta go, time to watch Starwoids. Yes I am a Dork.

Wake forest criterium

Here it is. After a long day in ther hot sun, time to talk about it. Today was the Wake Forest criterium. I thought I would be in the wheel pit, but no, it was to be safety guy for CycleSafe.Org . That was fine. They are a good group promoting bike safety to little kids. And there were lots of little kids. Checking out these bikes makes you wonder just how much concern parents have for their kids, or if any one owns a pump. Just about every bike had issues, from near zero air pressure, to stems and seat posts so far past the max line there was less than a half inch in the frame, to missing hardware and bikes two sizes to small.
There was an issue with a couple of local business people that the criterium would force them into bankruptcy. Judging from the number of people rolling into the cafeteria of one of these whiners, about fifty yards from my work station, the bottom line was hardly at risk. As for me, this was my first time to WF in more than twenty years. We, the Bride and I, plan on heading back to check it out in the near future as do many of the people I talked to during the day.
The most recent news(This does not show the ranting from earlier in the week, which seems to be missing?) :

Not only was the work station in a area with lots of parking it was also near a great corner. A left hand sweeper from a down hill straight. It was great to see the pack sweep thru. Of course, I have not uploaded the picures yet. maybe tomorrow.

P.S. A non bike aside,Southern Classic Cars, was the only bright spot in the empty(abandoned) shopping center we were set up in(Unless you love the Dollar General) Lots of classic steel from the thirties to the sixties. Worth the look if you feel some old car love.
P.P.S. I promise to learn some html so the links will be imbedded(is that what it is called?) in the word rather than as a seperate link. Apologies, I am lame to some extent.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A new beginning

I wanted to put something up real quick. I thought this would be easy to start up, but after screwing around for an hour I once again was forced to face just how computer illiterate I am. So there is just the little blurb to the right there and this. There were some interesting goings on at the shop,but that will have to wait until Sunday.
Speaking of Sunday, Big Race in Wake Forest, teching in the hot, hot sun. Should be something to say about that as well. Need to link to the big controversy, the battleroyal between the pottery show and the bike race. More to come.