Saturday, May 10, 2008

Launching more Surlies

This week, a customer who had been researching the purchase of a Long Haul Trucker finally came in to select the size, specify the tweaks and order the bike. Another friend, in another state, has consulted me about a project to build up a Pacer.

Last year I built up a Long Haul Trucker for someone actually named Long.

Tweaks on the latest Trucker include a handlebar change that required different brake levers. We may change the stem, too.

For my own Travelers Check project I ordered the rear hub so I can build up a two-sided fixed-gear wheel, but I'm waiting on anything else until my bank account recharges a little. I can piece together a ridable version of the bike with parts on hand and substitute the final selections a bit at a time. This is the great freedom you get when you push away proprietary shifting systems. You can actually buy one component at a time and still have a working bike made out of mix-and-match. And of course with single speeds, fixed-gear or not, you have no shifting problems at all and few compatibility issues except to make sure you have a fairly straight chain line.

Repair seasons always start with a big jumble of work coming in almost all at once. We work through that and usually have a brief lull, which could last days or only minutes. We cleared the incoming board this morning and all but a few repaired bikes had actually been picked up. But just when you might think we'd have time to assemble a batch of new bikes, in came the inevitable requests for instantaneous service too late in the day to oblige them. One family with two chunks of Wally World crap really seemed to think they'd done the hard part of the tuneup just by bringing the bikes to us. People don't realize that cheap, badly-designed, poorly-built sculptures of scrap metal actually take longer to adjust because we have to figure out what the standard of deviation is first. Once we establish a baseline we know what we can really expect to accomplish. Sometimes a real off-brand bike is so bad we have to refuse to touch it at all, or at least write huge disclaimers on the repair tag advising that no one actually ride the bike.

The better bike I was trying to finish before I left had a really crunchy bottom bracket which was also nearly welded into the frame because the cartridge had not been greased when installed. I managed to break it loose with a bunch of Pro Link and a Park leverage bar. This was on a Marin road bike, not somebody's swamp cruiser. Grease threads! If you dare to call yourself a mechanic, GREASE THREADS.

No comments: