Monday, September 24, 2012

The Benefits of Routine Maintenance


Eventually, on consideration, you may have to go back and trench something like this in

The maintenance slash upkeep slash fiddle factor on the fixed gear commuter is joyfully low. Pump up the tires once in a while, make sure the chain is not too slack, lube the chain when it starts making sounds or soon thereafter, make sure things are tight enough that nothing falls off. When shame overcomes me, wrap the bars with new tape, and wipe some of the most noticeable dirt off the frame. That's about it, and you start to see one of the the reasons I like it so much. The pannier bag I click onto the rack is probably more complicated than the bike itself.

But I do own other bicycles, some with gears slash derailleurs, and those tend to be much fussier about things like dirt, bent derailleur hangers, worn out cables, slightly worn chains, on and on, and if I want to have the other bikes be usable, well, eventually, on consideration, I may have to go back and do something about the stuff that doesn't work. So I jumped in, got my hands dirty, cut some cables, fiddled with limit screws and adjustor barrels for a while, and voila, Yasuko would appear road-worthy, commute-worthy, once again.

But not before concluding that one has not fully appreciated the questionable necessity of a derailleur until one has guessed at what the L limit screw should be set at, tried shifting up past the big cog again, and ended up having to fish the chain out from between the cog and spokes (again). My fixie was resting in the corner snickering at me: what are you doing with your Sunday afternoon, man? This derailleur time is time you could be out riding, spinning down the road, eating up these late summer afternoons like warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream dripping off the sides. With whipped cream. Some sharp cheddar, and slash or a strong double espresso on the side. But no, give the L limit screw another turn, try again. Part of me wants to believe this precise mechanical exercise of fine manual dexterity is like the apple pie, too, but the fixie laughs at my rationalization. Apple pie is apple pie, riding on afternoons like this one is like apple pie, and the tools are a means to an end. One which the fixie seems to represent at the express line to the dessert tray.

Post redo
OK, while that sweet old derailleur is spinning like silky new after a certain amount of rehab, the rear brake still needs some help, and the headset, well the headset is going to be a grungy mess once I get in there, I'm sure. But now that the derailleur hanger is straightened out, and the control cable made shipshape, and the chain adjusted to the correct length, all is well in shifting land, anyway. 

And in case there are any lingering doubts, of which I had many, in fact had begun to question the very notion of a rear derailleur on a commuter bike here in flatland, yes, this 9-speed XTR RD-M952 works great on a 7-speed drive train. Several sources of an authoritative reference nature caused all sorts of doubts in my head about that, specifically, that the amount of cable that the shifter would pull to index a gear would not be the same as the 9-speed derailleur was built for, but in this case, that's poppycock. Or that the chain wouldn't fit between the cages, also poppycock. I went ahead anyway, because the thumb shifters on Yasuko click out of index mode quick as you like with a flip of a lever anyway, so either way I was going to finish this job with a smooth, working, swap meet booty derailleur. I also had a couple other alternate chains standing by to try, another derailleur just in case, although not as nice a one, and, in case it all ended in tears, was wondering what Yasuko might look like as a single speed. Or a 3x1. Triple chain ring, one cog in the back. Hmmm. Oh, and while out on the test ride through Scottsdale, found a way to ziptie down the part of the rear fender bracket that was rattling on every crack in the expansion-jointed concrete path, so that I could listen to the silence coming from the drive train. Sweet. Maybe derailleurs aren't so bad after all.

11 comments:

  1. I love this analogy: "One which the fixie seems to represent at the express line to the desert tray."

    Ah, maintenance...what we both put off until it's absolutely necessary. I too, look at the fixie longingly, yet cannot go there because of our Vermont hills. But maybe that's a good thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All things considered, I need to ride my fixie to get actual dessert more often. Too many rides to work, and not enough rides for apple pie!

      Delete
  2. I doubt I would bother with gears if I lived in the flat lands.....With the hills around here I have no choice. Then again I do love the feel of a smooth running derailleur!

    -Trevor

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have much respect for the d-rail-r. Own/use several. But, have you ever noticed how even an imperceptible bend in the d-rail-r hanger causes shifting chaos? I wonder how many out there are riding around thinking that something is broken because their d-rail-r won't shift right no matter what they do, when they only have a slightly bend hanger.

      Delete
  3. With all of the stuff I tote to work, on the flat Phoenix roads I go through as many gears --- getting up to speed --- as a Peterbilt!

    Gotta have 'em!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. BluesCat! Where you been? You got me thinking about a fixed gear recumbent. How impractical yet nutty would that be?

      Delete
    2. We had a kitchen disaster/flood, so I've been spending the last three months dealing with the insurance company, cleanup company, contractors, sub-contractors, etc. Had to drive the car to work most days, cause there were a number of times I had to race home to tell somebody "No! No! That goes THERE, not HERE!" :( :(

      We're all done now, so I'm back to two wheels, for the most part. :D :) :P

      Tell ya what, a fixed gear tadpole trike might work: some of those climb really well because there is no fear of falling over no matter how aggressive/wacko you get with pedalin'!

      Delete
  4. Ware I live is farly flat, but I my like the three speeds. Good post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Internal gear hub plus chain case is also very low maintenance. Maybe I should go that way, give my knees a break sometimes.

      Delete
  5. Excellent pic!
    The conduit I mean.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. limom where you been? The OSG Outreach Committee was thinking about sending someone over to check on you. Unfortunately, they got distracted by d-rail-r maintenance.

      Delete

Please feel free to comment here, almost anything goes, except for obvious spam or blatantly illegal or objectionable material. Spammers may be subject to public ridicule, scorn, or outright shaming, and the companies represented in spam shall earn disrepute and ire for each occurrence.