Sunday, September 24, 2017

Assembly comedy of errors

Bikes people get somewhere else are one of our main sources of income. Maybe they bought it on line and realized that bikes aren't really that easy to put together. Maybe they got it at a shop that thinks bikes are too easy to put together. It goes like a snap if you leave out a lot of steps. It goes even faster if you don't even know what a problem looks like.

The latest example had something to do with a charity promotion, but when the technician doing the check in asked conversationally, "what charity was that?" the customer replied grumpily, "That's immaterial."


At a quick glance, the bike looked like a typical low-end facsimile of a hard-tail mountain bike. It had some snazzy cosmetic touches, like a silver and black headset spacer and machined-out highlights on the conical top of the headset itself, and on the top cap.

The dials on the tops of the fork legs looked like a particularly brittle chromed plastic. The oversize frame tubes are faux aluminum: they're steel. But it has disc brakes that actually seem to work.

The rear wheel was the heaviest thing I've hoisted in a long time that did not have an electric motor built into it.

The adjustment process went deceptively smoothly. Then I removed the top cap from the stem, so I could grease the threads on that bolt.

Perched atop that attractive two-tone headset spacer, the stem was halfway off the top of the fork and could not be mounted any lower with that spacer in place.

The star nut itself, which is supposed to be 15mm down in the steerer, was nearly flush with the top of it.

I found spacers to set the stem at the correct height and reset the star nut before putting the whole mess back together. That got me scrutinizing the rest of the parts.

Check out these shifters: Fake Shimano.

The derailleurs were another inside joke:
Sun Run! A knockoff of Sun Race, a company that began in the 1990s by making good but not fashionably exciting mix-and-match components to repair Shimano drive trains.
The front derailleur is a double knockoff, because Sun Run evokes Sun Race, but SR is an even more venerable company (Sakae Ringyo).

The only brand labeling on the tires was a logo that looks like WD
This might be a swipe at or homage to the old Flying Pigeon brand of bicycles. In this case, WD stands for Wounded Duck.

Nice machining on the pedal threads:

Nothing that should have been greased was greased. A tuneup on a bike like this is basically reassembly.

Bikes like this are one reason that bicycle accident statistics exaggerate the danger of simply riding. If the bike had not had a defective rear inner tube, someone could have ridden it. As long as the chain pulls one gear around, and the wheels don't fall off, some poor idiot could pedal this thing out to the top of Dead Man's Drop and launch it. The stem was one solid pothole away from detaching from the bike. The brake cables were reversed and tangled. The pedals were finger tight in the crank arms. As far as I know, bicycle accident statistics never include in depth analysis of the machine or factor in the bad decisions made by the rider. It's just bike=injury or death.

The cruelest thing about a bike like this is that a kid might think that it's totally cool.We scrape off a lot of crap on kids because, "they're just going to grow out of it," or they're going to get a driver's license in a couple of years. So at an impressionable age we condition them to expect nothing better. This one didn't even have a country of origin sticker. Apparently, not even China wants to claim it.

My bikes when I was a kid were nothing special, but it's a lot easier to make a durable, affordable one-speed with a coaster brake than to pump out cheap, crappy versions of complex mountain bikes. Along with the plethora of downright hazardous bikes, kids have ready access to heavily edited videos of trained (and battle scarred) professionals showing them how to abuse their bikes and themselves.

Progress marches on.

1 comment:

mike w. said...

Something to do with a charity promotion? The most charitable thing to have done with that BSO would have been to donate it to a scrap collector for the steel.