Thursday, September 12, 2013

Hamfisted stupidity or crash damage?

A customer requested new "wing" bars for his trusty Serotta road bike because the top section is more comfortable on long rides. When I unwrapped his old handlebars I discovered that either some muscle-headed idiot had graunched down so hard on the anchor bolts that he'd cracked the lever bodies or the levers had been damaged in some kind of crash. I would hate to have been on the bike in an endo that would damage the levers like that. Maybe it was a roof rack crash into a low overhang.

The levers are nine-speed Dura Ace. Ancient history. You won't find a nine-speed road brifter of equivalent quality.

I hate waste. I also hate the expensive scavenger hunt to put together a working drive train after the untimely death of one crucial component. This bike could have continued to work for many more seasons with proper care. The owner is meticulous. That made this hidden damage more of a surprise.

The owner decided to go with Ultegra 10-speed. I thought at first I could make it work using his existing rear derailleur, but now I'm afraid I won't really be able to get it to work around the 12-30 cassette. We didn't discuss gear range, but I liked the idea of getting a little lower low for the hills around here. His other bike is a very recent Felt, which probably has a compact crank. It would have a 34 inner ring, automatically providing a lower low gear than his current 39-27, even if the Felt has a low cog of 25.

There is apparently only one Ultegra 10-speed rear derailleur in the entire eastern United States. I may or may not have successfully ordered it.

We may have another compatibility issue with the crank. The narrower 10-speed chain might wedge between the rings on the 9-speed crank. I thought I had a perfect work-around there with a discarded Dura Ace crank from another customer's bike, but it would mean replacing a 172.5 with a 170. My other candidate, an FSA similar to the older model on there, has 175mm arms. To do better than that I would have to order a crank from one of our suppliers.

The cost mounts. The customer can afford it, but that's not the point. I did not go straight to a worst-case estimate when I laid out the problem for him. Because I've had some success getting Shimano crap of different generations to play nicely together I gave way to foolish optimism. I should have known that the Big S almost always wins. And the rider's wallet loses.

I'll never convince the cycling population to refuse complex technology and stick to what works, year after year, mile after mile. And that disturbs my peace of mind if I let myself think about it. So I try not to. I just keep doing my best to keep the tricky crap running, while the industry feverishly produces trickier and crappier crap.


Matt Boulanger said...

I'm going with hamfistedness in this case. I have had several shop-built bikes come home with levers that were barely on and had to be tightened, and I can see somebody getting home from a long ride with a cockeyed lever and thinking "not going to let THAT happen again." as they reach for a big long allen wrench.

The rest of your post is a good insight into why so many shops start the conversation you had with "let's buy a new drivetrain."

So many people would be better served if Rohloff had demand to make hundreds of thousands of hubs a year instead of a few thousand.

RANTWICK said...

+1 for Ham-fisted. Just looks like it to me. Bikes are such simple machines, right? Just don't dare to start mixing and matching!

Keep your optimism; I've seen posts on all kinds of great combos you've made. You just can't win 'em all!

2whls3spds said...

I knew there was some reason to be a retro grouch... Sturmey-Archer AW FTW, I do own a couple of 3x7 with friction shifters.


cafiend said...

There are many fine reasons to be a retro grouch or retro geezer.

In other news, I landed it. My initial parts spec worked. The guy will only have to cough up $618 he wasn't planning to spend on top pf the 400-odd he had already signed up to spend on the bar and stem change.

That's right: this fiasco cost more than $1,000.

Keep it simple, fellow riders.

John said...

Hamfistedness or not, I'm in agreement with you on the tricky crap. One step forward, two steps back.

greatpumpkin said...

I love my Suntour Barcons!