it's a disturbing trend in my opinion. whacking great big boxes with bicycles inside them, happily bereft of the endless rolls of bubble wrap that more usually caress shiny paintwork, but which take rather a long time to to remove. in most cases, the bars are zip-tied parallel to the frame. with seatpost and saddle in situ, 'tis but a case of rolling the bicycle from one open end of packing that would likely incur its own council tax, clamping the bars in place and riding off into the sunset. however, would it not make much more sense to leave the saddle wrapped separately in the box, clamp the bars in place then turn the stem sideways to allow fitting in the narrowness of the cardboard?
i make mention of this because in my opinion, it's a lot safer to have the end user (otherwise known as the customer) slide the seatpost into the frame and tighten the bolt than it is to have them clamp the bars in place. an incorrectly fitted seatpost will simply slide down; were the same fate to befall the bars while riding, the end result wouldn't be anywhere near as funny.
with a prevalence of carbon fibre even on lower cost bicycles, the need for care when assembling bits of a bicycle has become a more important factor. and in an increasingly litigious society, manufacturers usually stamp the torque settings on components that were previously the recipients of mostly brute force and ignorance. the inference here is that, should injury follow as a result of incorrect tensioning, the onus is on the end user (that customer fellow again), rather than the manufacturer.
i have to say, i'm more inclined to accept the results of my own actions rather than find someone to blame, but as mrs washingmachinepost has often pointed out, i'm not everyone. those newton metre numbers stamped adjacent to the stem bolts and seat clamp ought mostly to be adhered to at all times, but in the absence of a calibrated torque wrench, who amongst us can estimate just how hard to tighten any of the aforementioned bolts? to make matters worse, have you seen how much it costs for a torque wrench?
this set of circumstances is probably at least one of the reasons trek bicycles put a stop on their dealers selling mail order. apart from the perceived need to ensure the chosen cycle is a correct fit, once it has left the shop floor, there's no telling who and with what it will be assembled. i know of several bike shops which are loath to send out any brand of bicycle, on the basis that they may be consigning it to a life of mechanical ineptitude.
while it would be foolish not to keep at least a puncture repair kit, a set of allen keys and a tyre lever to hand, owning a comprehensive set of bicycle specific tools is not something every cycle owner is keen to undertake. on the basis that many of them will receive very little day to day (or even year to year) use, you can hardly blame them.
therefore, though several mail order suppliers despatch their ready to ride bicycles in those colossal boxes, still with the need for the bars to be clamped into the stem, there is undoubtedly a possible safety conundrum with a need of being resolved. (meanwhile, though the satisfied customer can simply dispense with the large cardboard container in the next recycled waste collection, folks like me who have need of returning the cycles after a review have to find somewhere to store them. and believe me, that ain't easy.)
however, good old tom ritchey has come to our aid in both the torque and economy stakes by offering a torque key not much bigger than the average drum key. this magnetically grasps one of a range of four adaptors (5mm, 4mm & 3mm allen keys and a t-20 torx key) and allows tensioning of any compatible bolt up to a maximum of five newton metres which ought to cover the majority of stem and seat bolts bolts. in operation, it's simply a matter of tightening the bolt until the the key clicks, at which point all is adjudged to be ginger peachy.
at a cost of only £19, the ritchey multi-torque key is cheap enough for any cyclist to own, and is small enough to fit in any pocket you may care to mention. the only demerit that comes to mind is how easy it is to lose in a busy bike shed (like mine), and even easier to lose the three torque bits that are not being used at the time. in view of their tiny size, it would pay to exercise great care in this respect.
but the best bit is, you don't have to be a qualified mechanic to use it.
sunday 16 february 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................