Friday, October 14, 2005


Well, I think that I've found the Achilles heel of my new bike. I find myself noodling on the bike. By that I mean pedalling right along, but maybe 1-2 mph slower than usual. It's taken me a while to figure this one out - nothing about the bike is slower than my other bikes. But, its so darn comfortable.

I've spent lots of time trying to find a saddle that works with my derriere - with limited success. I've concluded that most modern saddles are too narrow for me, which is what lead me to spec a Brooks on this bike. So, historically I keep my weight on the pedals to protect my butt - which keeps me maxing out my heart-rate. On a long (multi-hour) ride, I find myself overpushing my legs just to get to the end so as to get some relief for my tush.

Riding my new Caddoo, none of this is necessary. Everything is smooooth. But, I'm going slower. Now, for the most part, slower seems like an improvement. But, I start with Asthma which makes me a bit slow compared to the competition - hopefully, when riding with others, I can find a working motivation to keep up with them. :) If not, that's ok too.

Speaking of noodling. I decided not to try to get anything done for this weekend except basic tuning prior to my group ride. This gives me more time to spend time with the family. Plus, it helps to not be compulsive about getting bike things done. So, I've been noodling on the bike.

The rack is defluxed with the legs off. The fork is ready for fitting new rack legs and fitting everything together prior to paint. And, the bike (as is) is working well - there's just no place to put tools/spares etc. So maybe Sunday evening we'll get back to the rack.

I should probably explain why there's no place for tools. The Brooks conquest has a rail that slopes down as it goes from front to back. This allows the springs room between the rails and the base of the saddle. My tool bag is of the variety with a bolt-on mount from which the bag can be snapped on/off. So far so good. But mounting it on the rails of the Brooks causes the bag to be more or less upside down (better not forget to zip it shut), and more importantly has it trying to bisect the head of the seat post. The seat post isn't giving any ground to no lousy bag, so... the bag won't clip in. Lately, I've been taking minimal tools in my pockets.

Anyhow, tonight's noodling started with the seatpost. I pulled the lovely straight Thompson and put it away for now. I dug out an old Trek aluminum single-bolt post. The back of the head shows where I cut a tang (some kind of mounting point) off years ago - so it was over to the grinder to clean up the cut. Then I cleaned off the old adhesive from a long ago wrap of reflective tape. But, the post still looked old and not too distinguished.

About a month ago, when buying painting supplies, I purchased a 3M wheel, about and inch thick and about 3-4 inches in diameter. This is mounted on a 1/4 inch shaft and is supposed to be great at removing paint and rust. The disk looks like a brown sponge - only it has lots more hollow than any sponge you've seen.

I started at the bottom to see how it would work at cleaning the post, but also to see what kind of finish it leaves. The finish looks relatively course (not bad but distinct swirl marks), and the marks it leaves are dependent on how the post is positioned against the disk. Long story short, I got the post clean and gave it a neat "brushed" finish that is quite unique. It looks great in the bike and may distract people from asking me why I sprung for a sprung saddle.

On the back of the post, I mounted a decal of a scorpion (I'm a Scorpio) about 3/4 inch long. This was produced with laser-print water-slide decal paper. Given that this worked well, I tried another decal on the left chain stay. This one is yellow with red outline text saying "Steel is Real" It doesn't work well against the dark paint. The printing is too thin so the colors darken with the background - preventing it from popping. Good to know.

From there, it was time to take out one more link in the chain. BTW, the KMC chain's quick connector is easy to use. We'll have to see how the chain lasts, and its not clear how well the chain shifts compared to a Campy, but so far I'm favorably impressed.

After that, it was time to further investigate the rear derailer. It turns out that the cage is bent. I don't know how this can be or when it happened. The bike hasn't fallen or anything - the derailer was in its box until the bike was built up - so its a mystery to me. But, I took the time with the chain off to straighten the cage, and clean the inevitable gunk off the lower pulley (the upper was clean for some reason). After buttoning everything up, and playing a little with the shifter cable tension, it was clicking off single cog shifts all the way up and down the cluster from either chainwheel. So, that's great - maybe the derailer tab isn't off. On the other hand, the shifts still felt a little tentative. They weren't as crisp as I like. So, we'll see how the ride goes and check the derailer alignment next. addendum: my ride observations are that the shifting is working correctly now. Yea!!! Now I can concentrate on the gearing. Right now its 50/34 front and 13/26 rear. Most of the rear cogs are so close together that I'm chosing to use double shifts often. Meanwhile, the bigger (16 tooth) range on the front is noticable and not entirely great. I may check for a 12 or even 11 by 26 rear to give me a higher high and bigger steps between another cog or two. If that works, it will be time to try a 48/34 front. This should net out to a broader overall range, better steps between the shifts, and more overlap between the small and large chainwheel gear ranges.

Another aside: when I mounted the Columbine chain hanger, I didn't have any instructions. As a result, I was conservative and put it a bit forward. The only real disadvantage to this is that the chain needs to be on the 2nd or 3rd cog to work when mounting or dismounting the wheel. But the real message here is that this thing works great!!!!

I was concerned how well it would automatically catch the chain - but it's flawless. I was concerned about how well it would hold tension and keep the chain off the paint - it works like a champ. and, I was concerned with how easy it would be to mount the wheel - its very easy. On the last point, with vertical dropouts - it may be necessary to have the hanger back further where it can work with the chain on the smallest cog.

After all this, I mounted a bell and the Cateye LED headlight on the steering column, and the Halogen light on the handlebars. I should be good to go in the morning.

That's all for now. There ain't no more.

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