Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Update

Wednesday night I did not mount fenders. Instead the rider took the bike for a test spin. By the way, its the blue bike listing below under "Sneak Preview" Anyhow, she was extremely happy with the ride. Good on that.

Now I've hung the blue bike up for a few days. Tomorrow is our annual ride up the Des Plaines river trail to the Wisconsin border. This is fun, and often wet. While the trail isn't paved, much of it is cinder, so it doesn't require anything like a mountain bike. 30mm tires and fenders will do the job. Nonetheless, a number of folks will ride mountain bikes because their road bikes can handle wider tires.

For myself, I'll be riding my test hack - which is why I've put the blue bike aside. I had some nice Michelin 28s, which were really more of a 30 or 32mm tire. They weren't great on the road, but they were fine on the trail. Unfortunately, one of them wore out. They got replaced by a nice set of Hutchinson's with a folding bead. These are fast tires, with 80psi in front and 85psi in back. But, they're too narrow for wet weather on the trail. It's been raining this evening and some form of rain is being predicted for the morning.

I went scouting out wider tires, naturally looking for a deal. I found some Panaracer Pasellas (sp?) with a folding bead for less than $20 each in a 700x35c. These are pretty highly regarded tires, reasonably light and good rolling. The question was: could I mount them and fenders on the hack?

Meanwhile, on my last ride, the hack was slow and draggy. The culprit seemed to be the bottom bracket. The crankset is an FSA Gossamer compact double with external cup bearings.

So, BB, tires, fenders, have taken all my shop time since Wednesday.

I pulled the cranks, sure enough the left bearing was toast. I dug up a Truvativ crankset with external cup BB from inventory. I mounted the cups and tried to push the Gossamer through. Oppps, I pushed the press-fit bearing out of the left cup. It turns out that FSA and Truvativ use different specs. The Truvativ left bearing has a smaller hole for the axle, which necks down to fit. The FSA axle doesn't neck down. As best I can tell, Truvativ uses the same spec as Shimano, but apparently FSA doesn't.

Hopefully I haven't damaged the Truvativ BB, but I wasn't going to use this crankset (carbon arms) on the hack in the mud tomorrow. This lead to some thinking. I got out a nice old Stronglight 93. One of prettiest cranksets ever made. It's rather dirty, and has some oxidation - but its cool.

The Stronglight is a true low-tread (low Q) crankset. And it needs a longer axle than any of the BB I have in stock - so that means a trip to pick up a new BB. Also, with 10speeds on the back, It didn't make much sense to me to leave the the large (52t) chain ring on. Instead the small (47t) ring got moved to the outside, and mounted with track chain ring bolts. On this went a set of bright red Look Keo pedals.

The normal wheels on the hack are a set of Record 10 hubs laced to some MA3 rims. Smooth rolling and dependable. I also have a set of wheels that matches this except that the hubs are Chorus. I mounted the new tires to the Chorus wheel set - so we can easily switch between to the two tire sizes. Unfortunately, the Chorus wheels (an eBay find) had their own problem. In particular, the cassette lockring won't engage to thread onto the cassette carrier. I can see anything wrong with the cassette carrier, and tried three different (brands or) lockring with the same results. Eventually, I gave up for now and swapped tires on the Record rear hub. Along the way I cleaned all the grit and dirt out of the cassette - so it looks so much better now next to the Stronglight crank.

Both wheels fit on the bike. They need a little pop to get past the brake shoes, but not enough to interfere with the angle of the shoes. The rear tire has a good fit all the way around except the chain stays. I tried to get my crimper in there to make an adjustment but it just doesn't fit. The tire appears to be not quite true (the rim appears fine) for some reason. I pumped it up to 120psi, and then the trueness returned. This isn't a realistic riding pressure, but it does increase the diameter of the tire enough so that it drags on the front mounting screw for the rear fender.

After returning to normal pressure, the snakiness returned to the tire. Argh!! Anyhow, careful adjustment makes sure that the tire clears both stays without issue. If the mud were to get deep, however, it could cause a problem. But that should be an unlikely scenario on this trail.

With the additional traction provided by these tires, it became clear that the front brake needed a tweek. Tightening up its cable made a big difference in the front stopping power.

I pulled out an old set of hack fenders and started to mount the front. It was a little bit tighter than I like, but not too bad. Then I tried the rear. Nope, not a winning combo. The fender is too narrow and when combined with a being a bit close to the tire, it just isn't ago.

I have a set of Velo Orange brand aluminum fenders size appropriately for these tires, and pulled out the rear. A bit of fiddling, tweeking, cutting, filing, drilling, futsing, and so on later, and I had a workable rear fender. The fender line isn't perfect, but it's not bad.

So now the hack has a plastic front fender painted white, and an unpolished aluminum rear fender. Not a fashion statement, but definitely a look that stands out.

Hopefully everything is snug and will hold together for the ride. More on this later.

It's late and I need to pack, so we'll see you around.

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