Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Car Free Day

Living only three miles from work and riding about 4000 miles a year, you might think some of those miles would be logged commuting. They aren't though. But yesterday morning I once again drug the old, ultra heavy, steel Fuji out of the shed and rode those three miles. I rode home at lunch and took the car back because, of all things, I wanted to go for a bike ride after work. With the sun going down earlier, getting home as quickly as I can to get changed and get the light Fuji out is imperative. So I got in 6 miles commuting and 22 on my "normal" ride.

Today, though, with no after work ride planned it was a car free day (as opposed to care free - I need one of those sometime, too). Living this close to where I work means I can come home for lunch and ride the bike back for four trips - 12 miles. If the weather stays like this, temps in the high 40's at night and low 70's for highs, I think I'll keep commuting. Not only is it free, I get a few more miles in and it's pretty relaxing.

As I noted a few times, last September I got in all of 29.7 miles in one ride. I did a little better this year. There were 16 rides with total mileage of 426.44. Two of those 16 rides were over 100k. What a difference a year makes, although whatever it is that causes my asthma and allergy problems this time of year was definitely out there again. I just pushed through it.

You know, 5000 miles this year isn't impossible, but I'm not commiting to it. Not yet, anyway.

I leave you with these guys. They seemed pretty interested in my ride when I stopped to take the picture.

And a new picture of Annie. She's pretty cool, and she has taken over. Resistance is futile.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Pie Plates

This is a pie plate. It's only purpose is to keep the chain from shifting past the largest cog in the rear and into the spokes. This is never a problem if your derailleur is adjusted properly, and most bikes don't even come with them. This is the one I took off my old Fuji several years ago. The Roubaix Pro never had one. Never will, but I could have used one last week.

I didn't mention that in my attempt to make the Wipperman chain shift I managed to get things so badly adjusted that the chain shifted past the last gear and into the spokes. Since that locked the rear wheel, I came to a screeching halt, and it took a while to free the chain. I didn't really want to say anything. I'm a better mechanic than that - most of the time. I lapse once in a while. Anyway, I didn't think much about it.

This morning I went for a short ride, only 20 miles. At about mile 18 a spoke broke on the rear wheel. I opened up the brake, wove the spoke between the others so it wouldn't flop around and proceeded on home. I still didn't think much about breaking a spoke since I had broken a few on the old bike. they just fail once in a while. So, it was another trip to visit a bike shop in Greensboro. This time I went to Cycles de ORO, the bike shop I used to use all the time before Performance opened their store right up the block. Since the broken spoke was on the drive train side I knew I'd have to get a tool to remove the cassette, and to be honest, I just felt like going in and knowing whoever I dealt with would know exactly what I needed, even if it might cost just a little more. I bought the tools I needed and I got 10 spokes so I'd have some spares.

It wasn't until I took the cassette of that I noticed this:

The remaining six spokes that exited the hub between the cassette and hub flange were all badly bent and gouged from having the chain jammed into them. No wonder one had broken. I was glad I'd gotten ten of them, since that let me go ahead and replace all of the damaged ones, and I still have four spares, just in case. The wheel is all fixed and true.

I mentioned the Wipperman chain to the mechanic at Cycles de ORO, and he said he'd had exactly the same experience with one. He also told me to take it back to Performance, they'd give me my money back. Next time I go up there, I'll bring it back and see. I'll let you know. Actually, I'd be fine with a store credit, since I know I'll be buying more bike stuff.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Chains (end of the trilogy)

Yesterday after work (Of course I stayed 'til 5:00 even though all my coworkers were gone by 2:45. Honest I did. Why do you ask?) I made another trip to Greensboro for another chain. This time I went to REI, which is similar to EMS, but not quite as good. I used to love going to the EMS store in Peterbourough, NH. I could spend hours and way too much money in that store.

But, back to the chain. They only had one ten speed chain. A Shimano 105 for $42. I bought it, brought it home and installed it. Today, I went for a ride. Well, a 100k (63.22 miles and averaged 17.1 mph) ride for the second Saturday in a row. Perfect shifts throughout. No problems whatsoever. So it really was the Wipperman chain causing all the problems. If you get a chance to buy one, DON'T.

Last September I rode one time for 29.7 miles. That was mostly because of problems with my asthma. There is something out there in September that really affects my allergies and my breathing. I had some of the same problems today, but, I have ridden four times for 124.49 miles already this month, and don't plan on stopping unless my breathing gets much worse.

Friday, September 04, 2009


Working a scant three miles from my house would seem to make commuting a pretty easy decision. I keep thinking about it, but never seem to be motivated enough to actually do it. Today, though, I did. It was cool this morning, 59 degrees, and lots of sunshine so I rolled the old blue Fuji out of the shed, pumped up the tires and rode in to Liberty. My first impression was: man, this bike is HEAVY. And it is. It weighs twelve pounds more than the Roubaix I ride all the time. I can't believe I rode it over 8000 miles, some of them as fast as the miles I do on the newer bike.

I took my time so I wouldn't get too sweaty. Still, it only took me thirteen minutes to get to work. I came home for lunch so I got in a total of four three mile trips. So, 12 miles for the day. Don't know if I'll keep commuting, but it really doesn't make sense not to.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Chain II

So, yesterday evening I spent a little time trying to adjust the shifting of the new chain on the rear cogs. Trying being the operative word here. FAIL describes the level of success. Now, the worn chain was still shifting perfectly on the rear - it was just refusing to stay on the big chain ring, so I started looking at everything a lot more closly, especially the new chain. The picture over there shows what I found. The arrow is pointing to a distinctly beveled edge. My first thought - taken from watching too many Mythbusters episodes - "Well, there's your problem!" Since I have been working as an engineer for, like, almost forever, and have some limited knowledge of how things are supposed to work, my thought process was that if I wanted a chain not to shift, I'd bevel it exactly like that. The only thing those can do is push the chain away from the cog you are trying to shift to.

Here is a picture of the (Forte) chain that came off the bike (it's a piece that came off when I shortened it - it was new this spring). Notice the nice, sharp, corners?

Armed with this new found info, I did a quick search on Wipperman chains and shifting. Guess what I found. Yeah, there are a LOT more reviews complaining about how badly this chain shifts than there are kudos on what a wonderful part it is. Imagine that.

On top of that, I found this, written by Jobst Brandt (for a little info on Jobst you can go here). The chain he is talking about isn't a Wipperman, but a Sachs, and it sounds like it's made the same way, with the same problem.

From: (Jobst Brandt) Newsgroups: Subject: Re: chain stiffness data Date: 2 Nov 1998 21:08:22 GMT Damon Rinard writes: > I thought some of you might like to know that I've just posted the > lateral stiffness of a few bicycle chains on my web site at: > I think this information would be more interesting if you had their lateral flex of each chain when new and when 0.5% elongated. This would reveal more about the consistency of performance during its usable life and might reveal what causes the change. I has always been my experience that the more laterally flexible a chain became the poorer it shifted. In fact that was one of the early criteria for replacing a chain when it no longer shifted easily due to its ability to snake over to the sprocket it was on even though the derailleur was aligned with the next gear. As I said previously, the new Sachs derailleur chain is the worst shifting chain I have come across because its pins and side plates are beveled to reject climbing to the next sprocket. The intent was apparently to allow extreme crossover gearing with 9-speeds and triple chainrings. I am not impressed. This is another case where the demands of the incompetent bicyclist has prevailed over the riders who use their equipment effectively. Jobst Brandt

Guess I'll be off to the bike shop for another chain, this time it'll be a SRAM, Shimano, or Forte. I'm planning on riding after work tonight, though, so I have at least one more ride with this chain. Saving $20 by choosing the Wipperman over the Shimano last Saturday turns into throwing away $50. Live and learn, live and learn.