Sunday, 16 October 2011

Theseus' Paradox

Only Fools and Horses (classic BBC comedy) has a sketch where Trigger proudly explains the reason why he has been awarded a medal. The story is best left to Trigger to explain

There are times when simply replacing kit and parting with hard earned cash would be easier than making the effort to attempt the repair. There is an appeal to this. Chasing the shadows of a great online deal. Sourcing the part locally and having a chat with staff at the shop isn't a bad way to spend spare time. The fun continues when the tinkering starts. Tools are looked out, a space is cleared and once you are finished tinkering, the all important test ride hopefully proves that the decision was worth it. For me, the appeal of keeping things going is just as strong, if not even stronger. The sense of satisfaction and belief that you can do it is a great tonic and encourages more fixing and tweaking. The web provides an endless source of bike bible information, Sheldon Brown anyone?  There are a considerable number of 'how to fix' step by step guides. Forums are another rich source of advice. If you can get past the off topic replies and acronyms (IMHO) (FO), the collective knowledge is only too willing to help. True to open source and co-repair, there is a rapidly growing band of wrenchmonkees out there with their own sites and blogs. A cyclesguff favourite from the past was angryasian, he was a one man band for Maverick suspension tips and fixes. Those of us that have endured the idiosyncrasies of Mavic Ksyriums would be wise to point the cursor in the direction of the rogue mechanic. I would like to take this opportunity to say thanks for all those that have suffered the pain of a repair to make my life easier.

The toolkit for fixing bikes inevitably changes in time with developments of components. That change is currently bordering on being so quick, it's becoming ridiculous. I'm sure we all have a favourite tool, the one that has a patina and character that's been honed over years of use. The one that we can rely upon, or become frustrated if it can't be found, this may sound weird, but it can almost amount to a sense of loss.  A few years back I decided to buy a pair of Park Tools cable cutters. Why did I wait so long? 

This simple tool exudes quality in abundance. The sensory feedback and satisfaction totally outweigh the price tag. The cutting jaws crisply cut through a cable like no other and the wonderfully simple crimp area for reforming outer cable and those oh so important ferulles proves that the guys responsible for designing and manufacturing at Park take their job seriously. However, I have experienced a few duff Park tools in the past. The no quibbles warranty was called upon due to what was described by the shop staff as 'soft metal'. My thoughts are that something was not up to par with the treatment of the material at the finishing stage of manufacture. Forgiving Park is easy, a small error was taken care of and the replacement crank extractor has worked without fault or complaint.

Park are in the business to sell tools, if the mechanic in the shop uses them, fine. That's the kind of endorsement that results in more punters buying tools for the home workshop. If the home mechanic's skill and knowledge challenge the shop, well there will also be other customers with bikes and kit in need of TLC.

The cycling equivalent of Trigger's broom from my fleet is a Shimano Deore XT M760 rear mech. This rear mech was first used on a 2005 Klein Palamino XV. That bike was a blast to ride primarily down to the the Maverick monolink suspension platform that Klein had licensed from Paul Turner and Frank Vogel. Previous full sussed Kleins didn't hit the mark, but the Palomino range was an all together different breed. In Maverick's own words, 'The effect is a super-stable and efficient ride.' 

Great fun for chasing the big rigs in Morzine
Weighing in at under 11.5kg (26lbs ish) for an aluminium full susser is still not to be sniffed at. The bike was designed for XC racing, but trips to UK trail centres, French Alps and back country exploring demonstrated just how capable the monolink platform is. When the Klein frame was moved on, the rear mech was fitted to a fabulous and missed 2009 Cannondale Prophet.

Even better fun for chasing big rigs

I've made a few comments in earlier postings about the Prophet. After the Prophet, the mech found its way onto the current full susser in the fleet, the very lovely and orange Turner Sultan. 

During its 6 years of abuse, I've forgotten how many cables and jockey wheels have been replaced and the number of major knocks that it has absorbed. Scottish Heather is widely known as a mech eater, not this one. The inner plate of the mech even snapped due to a spectacular off on the infamous Ridge Ride in Morzine. This truly epic route is after the punishing ascent of Col de Coux.

Rocks the size of Monsters live over there...

Not to worry, Colin 'choir' Powell found a small, but sturdy stick and I wrapped the cage in duct-tape. Duct-tape is ace, if you don't carry any, you should. My Dad told me an old trick of wrapping the stuff around a pen or pencil when on his travels and competing in motorcycle trials. I've departed from this and wrap it around a tyre lever when on my travels and competing against myself. That Morzine stick splint and duct-tape fix lasted so long that I forgot about it. When the time did come to fix it, the bent cage was straightened in a vice and the split was welded. The grinder then went to work to remove any weld splatter and clean up the surface.  Even though the repaired cage was smooth, it wasn't looking too pretty after the surgery. So, some gold spray paint was applied and the repaired mech looked very bling. The mech was then fitted back on the bike and doing what it was designed to do. All was going well until recently; the dreaded play and sloppiness of an old mech started to make its presence felt. This is a problem due to the Turner being hyper critical of cable length and adjustment. The dreaded ghost shifts had returned and there isn't much you can do about play in that model of rear mech.

The day has finally come to break out the 5mm Allen key and remove the poor thing. The new home is the top step of the podium (shelf) in the garage, a little reminder of great kit, bikes, fixes and most importantly, epic rides with pals.   

M760, an ace piece of kit

The mech is being replaced with a 10 speed XTR unit. In fact, the whole drive train is being replaced……..not due to sloppiness or other parts falling to bits. It's all down to marketing and the Big 'S' being very good at extracting cash from my pocket. The cost of the additional letter 'R' is causing me some grief. I'm positive that some logic will be found soon.

Stay upright

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