Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fuji Feedback

On Monday, I took Juli's Fuji to my bicycle maintenance class at Broadway Bicycle School. It was headset night, and of all the bikes in my charge, it's the most needy in that department.

I'd intended to get into town way ahead of schedule on the Red Line from Alewife, and sort of beat around Cambridge, reacquainting myself with the place. But I got sleepy from my ride (24 miles out to Tufts Veterinary School and back), and then I was called for a phone screen for a job I'm really interested in, which was more important than beating around Cambridge for a couple of hours, reacquainting myself with the place. So instead, I got there just before the shop closed up at 6:00, and bought a T-Shirt for myself, another as a gift, and a couple of Crane hammer-strike bells, before then waiting on a bench outside for class to start.

Funny thing about Cambridge. I mentioned last week I got a couple of laughs and hoots and the like while riding Ava's teeny mountain bike to class. This week, people made comments like "Hey, uh... I think you need a bigger bike" as I walked Juli's Fuji from my car to class. All said kindly and all in good fun, of course. But in truth I kind of marveled that people said anything at all. I've written in the past about how bikes can often be an ice-breaker, but even so, random interaction with passers-by is a new experience for me.

And it kept coming! As I sat on the bench, I think three separate people walking or riding by said something like "Nice bike! But it's not yours, right?" And as the Broadway crew started putting away the bikes hung outside for the night, they complimented the bike as well, and asked me about it. I told them what it was, and how Juli and I had built it up a few years ago, and to no surprise (these are bike people, after all), there were nods and smiles and approvals and reminiscences of first bikes. All good stuff, and great reinforcement of the notion of bikes as bridges.

Class was good, too. I got a good look inside the Fuji's 105SC headset. It's a nice part, with seals that pop into place to keep dirt out of the bearings, and a recessed slot for the lock washer to ride in, which lowers the stack height a bit. The races have just the slightest little indentations hammered in by the stresses on the ball bearings, but it wasn't bad. With the headset overtightened, these give the fork the feel of having several distinct "positions", rather than pivoting smoothly, but it isn't really noticeable when the headsed is adjusted properly.

The big take-way from class was again that a professional workstand is a beautiful thing. My home made workstand is a big step up from working with a bike upside down on the floor, but a professional work stand is another big step up from there. Apart from the lack of wobble, I was able to rotate the bike entirely upside down and lock it there, in order to load up the lower headset cup with uncaged balls without them falling out onto the floor. How cool is that? It makes everything sooooo much easier. Maybe someday I'll have a real shop to work on my bikes...

Next week is wheel truing night, and this time (for real!) I'll plan to bring the Shogun in early on the T (which is OK, according to the MBTA website, but not at rush hours), and use it to explore Cambridge a bit before class. I can even ride it around, which I mostly couldn't do with the Fuji. After class, I'm going to stop at a falafel place I saw just outside of Central Square for dinner, I think, before heading back to the red line. It's been a long time since I had falafel, and I hope it's good!

I really like that city.

All for now,


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