Thursday, June 29, 2017

Pretty, messed up

A few days ago a rider brought in a beautiful Peter Mooney road bike with a broken rear shift cable.  Because it was a brifter, it was at risk for "strands of death." It was the second one we'd treated that day.
Because the cables inside brifters always break under tension, the stub remains inside the mechanism. The frayed ends can snag and prevent the shifter from returning to the position where everything lines up for removal and installation. Depending on the model of brifter, you may be able to dissect it somewhat to manipulate the broken strands, but any broken cable inside a brifter, particularly a Shimano brifter, could turn into an expensive problem.

This one's life was spared. I could get at the stub and coax it around as I shifted the mechanism to line everything up.

The bike was beautifully made, but flawed.

It was built when people who should have known better were slapping cable stops on the head tube. Crap like this shows you that the spirit of trial and error is still very much alive in bicycle design, especially the error part. Cable stops at the head tube were never a good idea, never would have worked, didn't need to be done, and could have been avoided after a few obscure experiments proved that point. However, they swept the industry, leading to exquisite custom frames from high-end builders with incurable cable problems due to beautifully crafted stupid design.

I can see how they thought it might work, but how many times do you have to hit yourself with a hammer to prove that it hurts?

The frame details are really impressive. 
Check out this groovy pump nubbin. It's not really a pump peg, being a round ball and all. Beautifully worked into  the seat lug, isn't it?

Head lug

Fork end

Bottom bracket shell

Most overrated headset.

Aaaand the world's most annoying bicycle computer.

I realized after the rider left that I had not taken a picture of the complete bike.

In a perfectly timed example of the advantages of primitive componentry, on my ride home, I grabbed a fistful of shifter and heard the telltale snap of cable strands breaking. I was near a spot where I planned to stop anyway, so I performed a routine roadside repair on my nice, simple barcon shifter:
No need to dig in a panic for Strands of Death. I carry spare cables because they usually break in the middle of a ride.

Time to write has been hard to find. I have to scamper off to work now, to fix a couple of smokeless mopeds that the Millionaire Motorbike Club crashed on the rail trail. I wondered when the smokeless moped crowd would start to banzai down that path. It's congested enough with dog walkers, baby strollers, people fishing, and cruisers and mountain bikes with absurdly wide handlebars. Now we have to deal with the 20 mph crowd, trying to maneuver through the tight rail crossings on sluggish, 50-pound bikes that surge forward with electrical assistance whenever you poke at the pedals.

This should be interesting.

4 comments:

mike w. said...

And that's why i never gave up my downtube shifters... also, what's with that headset spacer?

cafiend said...

I don't miss my downtube shifters since I went to barcons. The headset spacer is probably to support a higher front end without needing a drastically tall stem. I wish I'd taken a couple of pictures of the complete bike, but I was a little pressed for time on a Saturday morning. Now I want to remember more about the whole setup...

mike w. said...

i happily use barcons on my touring and modded "mountain" bikes (i don't live anywhere near any mountain.) Brifters seem nice in theory, but from my mechanic's POV, are kludgy and just plain over-engineered. Add to that they are vulnerable to getting trashed in a mishap and expensive to replace. Plus, how many generations of Shimano brifters and various other marks are there? i like the non-indexed downtube and barcon shifters mainly because they're compatible with almost any drivetrain i'm likely to use. YMMV.

Also, i'm interested to hear your take on Chris King headsets. As to the big spacer and tall stem, it seems like an unusual solution to getting the 'bars high enough. Is the owner riding an undersized frame?

cafiend said...

I have no use for brifters. Friction shifting does -- as you say -- allow you to mix and match drive train parts as you want or need. As for front end height, a lot of riders want the pars high, even if they have drops. For casual riding, higher bars let you enjoy the scenery more, at the cost of power and aerodynamics. You have to find your own best compromise.