Saturday, July 26, 2014

Thinking for myself

Reader Grego posted a comment with a link to Sheldon Brown's article on squeezing cogs onto freehubs technically too narrow for them. Rather than leave this in the comments I wanted to put it on its own post.

When I wrote the post I was going to say that I was sure greater minds than mine had thought of the idea years ago, but somehow in the press of time I forgot to put it in. Suntour launched the narrow chain movement in the 1970s with Ultra 6 freewheels that put six speeds on bikes that formerly had only five. If anything my post showed how slowly my mental wheels grind, not how rapidly.

I tend to make do with whatever I have. Especially when it comes to complicated devices like brifters and temperamental items like skinny chains I really try to resist the expense and complexity, weighing the advantages against the disadvantages for the self-supported cyclist. So it took me a long time to want that extra cog on the old seven-speed.

Laboring in a cycling backwater, and not addicted to reading about it on the Internet or in books, I receive my information as it drifts in. Presented with a customer problem I will do intense research. Then I go home and think about something else. So in a way, the fact that I independently developed the 8 of 9 concept validates the research of the true pioneers.

Sheldon also thought brifters were nifty. His article tells how to get those infernal mechanisms to work with the improvised cassettes, which is work you can skip if you declare your independence and shift in friction. He also prescribed skinny chains, where I'm running my 8-speed, reserving the option to go to nine if I notice any problems with chain width that did not appear on my test ride.

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