This week brought in a higher class of broken bike. Victims included a hill climb conversion on a Trek Madone 5-point-something-or-other and a Klein Carbon something with a frame actually made of aluminum. It's all a blur.
The Madone needed an entire drive train. Because the front derailleur mounts to a bracket at a fixed height, it hangs a couple of centimeters above the requested chain ring. On a test ride it miraculously did not toss the chain off the high side or the low side. That doesn't mean it won't, at a critical time.
The Klein turned out to have a crack in the frame where the brake housing exits near the seat tube. The bike has internally-routed cables. The crack originates in the dent made to accommodate the cable exit. It could have been there from the beginning. The bike lives in California. I had never needed to look into that particular part of its frame on any previous visits.
The $12,000 beater bike came in, chasing down some front derailleur issues left over from its overhaul last fall. I thought I'd cured it with an old Deore relic, but that wasn't holding up. I'd tried some offbeat cable routing to see if I could conquer the compatibility issues between Shimano road and mountain drive train components. The anchor point that gave the best shifting required wrists of steel when twisting the shift lever on that brifter. A new Tiagra derailleur seems to have taken care of all the problems. Maybe.
Shimano seems to be relegating 9-speed road componentry to middle- and low-end status. Ultegra 9-speed brifters are out of stock and discontinued at Quality. You can still get R600, which by price appears to be Ultegra level, but the trend is clear. Shimano has a way of punishing their regular customers. That attitude infected most of the bike industry in the 1990s.
Continuing the 9-speed theme, another customer dropped in with a bike we'd recently tuned for his son or son-in-law. This rider had no road experience. He was using step-in pedals for the first time. The release was cranked as tight as it would go. He shied away from passing traffic, went off the road and pile drove the shifters into the ditch. He's fine and the bike appeared relatively unhurt, but the right Ultegra 9-speed brifter had apparently taken too hard a shot along with too much sand. The owner of the bike wants the levers to match, so he ordered a complete lever set instead of just a replacement right unit.
More and more customers are listening a moment longer than they used to when I extol the virtues of friction-shifting barcons.
Vacationers bring their urgent deadlines. Today we did a bash-and-tweak on some wheels from bikes that were on the rack when the family SUV got rear-ended in a small pileup on Interstate 93. Let's hear it for disk brakes! The rims just have to be straight enough to fit through the frame. The wheels actually came out better than that. And bash and tweak is such a stress reliever. No one expects perfection, so swing away.
After a week of long days and hard commutes I feel like Indiana Jones when he shot that big guy with the two swords in Raiders of the Lost Ark. I have no finesse left. Just stay out of my way.