Thursday, July 22, 2010

Not Everything Works

As much as I pride myself on being handy around bikes, not everything I try or pick up works out so well. At least not as intended.

I bought the cool old rack you see up top for use on the Motobecane (this is the pic from the eBay posting, and kudos and credit to the guy who shot it -- it's far better than any photo I could muster). Sadly, it appears that it will only work with centerpull brakes. So much for that plan! I could use it on the Schwinn, where it would be too weak to carry anything meaningful (like a big Wald basket), or on Juli's new Schwinn, where it'd likely be destroyed. I could put a centerpull on the front of the Motobecane, as long as I used a thin steel hanger (Rivendell has some). But I really don't want to -- I like the Superbe brakes on there now. I can flip the rack back on eBay, I suppose. It's so pretty though -- and hand-made. Too bad, really.

I bought a short riser stem the other day for Juli's Fuji, with every intention of using a set of drop bars in it. The clamp won't let a set of drop bars slip through, though -- it's not shaped properly, and the bends on these bars are too tight to work with anything but an open-face stem anyway, it appears. I've had this problem a couple of times before, too, but it was a low-dollar bet. It's not a total loss -- the stem works fine on the Columbia, and even matches the fork well. Its installation even got that bike one step closer to a send-off.

On a related note, I bought an older SR alloy stem last spring intended for the Columbia. Turns out that it has a 21.1mm quill, not a 22.2mm quill needed to match the new fork on that bike. Again, I was fortunate to have that recent offsetting failure to finish off the Columbia. But now I think I have three extra 21.1 quill stems -- two of which count as failed experiments. At least any of them could be used on the Schwinn with something other than drop bars, and may, at some point.

I bought a Wald seatpost not long ago for the Columbia. It was ridiculously cheap, for the record. It didn't fit, though, and I had to shim it. Then I felt badly about the lame shim job, so I pulled it out and put the original post back on. It has to be installed upside down to work with the current saddle's clamp -- thus the attempted replacement. I still don't feel good about that, but it's how the bike came to me, so I probably shouldn't sweat it too much.

I bought another Wald seatpost online for the puppydog Specialized. Turns out it's identical to the one that didn't fit the Columbia, and they didn't fit that bike either. Now I have two. And I had to buy another post before sending the Specialized off with its new owner.

The Rivendell Saddlesack XS I had on the Motobecane became all misshapen after a while. It was designed to hang neatly from Brooks bag loops, but my old Brooks Professional has none, and it was getting squnched, sliding down the rails. It's now on Juli's Fuji, under her Brooks B-17S, which does have loops, and its shape is now fine. FWIW, this situation was the impetus for the cute little front rack at top -- I even bought a little camera bag to strap to it to carry my iPhone, camera, wallet, keys, etc... when I ride. That bag now has no place to sit, and is of little value to me, and I'm back to the drawing board again for carrying stuff on my bike. There's a bit of a domino effect at work in some of these examples, as you can see.

I bought a 26.0mm seatpost with a bit more length for the Motobecane, to help me raise the saddle a bit beyond the limit of the original SR post. But really, the bike should always have had a 26.2mm post, and I now have two 26.0 posts (the replacement and original SR) to unload, while a 26.2 is providing outstanding service on Le Mongre. This one wasn't my fault -- I was just relying on what was on there from the factory.

On the Schwinn, DiaCompe centerpulls didn't work well for me, but screechy-skronky Mafacs do. Shimano bar-end shifters didn't feel right to me, but Suntour bar ends do. New Brooks Team Professionals don't fit right, but older, flatter Professionals do. And so on, and so on...

Not everything I do works. It's frustrating, but I'm pretty persistent, and I don't generally give up -- especially when it comes to labors of love. I may need to try a different approach or see if something different fits -- but I usually find my way to a good outcome.

All for now,


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