click and collect

bike box

a number of years ago, bike cleaning specialists, muc-off sent me a couple of cans of their reproofing aerosol spray, a product that proved to be highly effective for the purpose. having used up all the review product i was sent, i visited the muc-off website to order some more, only to discover that, presumably due to the propellant used in the can, they would not deliver to my island address. yet, they had done so when sending the original review samples.

go figure.

as a result, still figuring it to be a product worth having, i was able to order some from amazon, a large retailer who had no qualms about despatching across the narrow stretch of water. that simply made muc-off's stance even more odd.

however, there's no doubt that many of us are just as happy, if not more so, to order components, acessories or even bicycles online, as we once were to take a trip into town to visit our local bike shop. the apt word for this set of affairs is 'convenience'. a bit like the itunes store; if, at 11:30pm in the evening, i suddenly have an overwhelming need for a copy of 'john coltrane plays the blues', i can pay for and download a copy before i go to bed. yes, i do realise that everybody streams everything nowadays and personal ownership is a thing of the past, but my luddite tendencies stretch further than purely velocipedinal matters.

a matter of years past, trek bicycles announced that they would no longer allow their dealers to ship bicycles direct to the customer, mandating a visit to the shop to ensure that the choice of trek was of a suitable size. according to wisconsin's finest, too often customers were ordering the wrong size, with the subsequent experience being considerably lower than trek wished to project. to be honest, it seemed a rather spurious reason, but later that same year, prior to receiving a trek domane for review on the post, i'd to pop over to glasgow's alpine bikes to be fitted before they would despatch the bicycle in my direction.

oddly enough, having spent at least an hour being fitted by a highly competent gent (trained by phil cavell at cycle-fit), when the bike eventually arrived at the croft, no attempt had been made to implement the measurements suggested by the fitting process.

thankfully, at least for those of us who live nowhere near any kind of bike shop, none of trek's peers followed suit, all just as happy to have their own dealer network sell online and deliver in a large cardboard box. but the covid pandemic has changed many daily processes. many of you will have taken note of the sudden appearance of motor car sales that promise to deliver the chosen vehicle direct to the customer's house, even allowing a seven day period during which they can make up their mind whether to keep the vehicle or not.

of course, such sales channels were often a case of necessity becoming the mother of invention. though bicycle shops were classed as essential retail during each and every period of lockdown, car showrooms were not. therfore, in order to keep sales buoyant, home delivery was perhaps the most obvious option.

however, not long after i moved to the centre of the known universe, working as a graphic designer, i pointed out to the accommodation providers on the island that, in those pre-internet days, the first to move to a full-colour brochure would compel all others to do likewise, whether actually necessary or not. i was proved correct. the same situation occurred when it came to possessing a website in the mid 1990s.

the internet has effectively forced a whole new perspective for everyone. there are folks alive today who cannot recall a time when amazon did not exist and when it was not possible to order pretty much anything online. it would be a seriously dedicated flat-earther who denied that the internet has not changed the world beyond recognition, allowing a whole swathe of people to be located anywhere they wish and work from home. as a result, it becomes a frequent irritant to learn that a desired product or service cannot be engaged online, and that it can't be paid for by paypal.

in probably the first of many, simply by dint of peer pressure, specialized announced earlier this week that, from 1 february, they would be offering direct online sales to customers in the usa, though at the time, no mention of the uk. however, due to the american announcement, the uk office felt pressured to join the party and announce that they intended to do likewise on this side of the atlantic.

presumably in order not to completely alienate their dealer network, specialized are offering two methods of purchase; the chosen bicycle can be sent directly to the customer with little assembly required and telephone access to a rider care specialist. or, if that seems a tad onerous, the bicycle can be ordered for delivery to the nearest specialized dealer, where a professional technician will ensure the cycle fits and correctly setup.

though many of us will see nothing wrong with the current option to visit a bicycle shop and make a choice either from stock or have the dealer place an order, life's no longer like that. specialized have even decreed that, from february onwards, it will be perfectly feasible to have any warranty work carried out by any authorised specialized dealer, and not necessarily the dealer from which the original purchase was made.

unfortunately, it seems quite possible that this enterprise by the american bicycle manufacturer might be responsible for putting yet another nail in the independent bike shop coffin, especially if, as expected, others follow suit. should that ultimately be the case, finding somewhere to have warranty work carried out, or servicing take place, might just be about to become a bit harder. yes, there's still the option to order for delivery to the dealer, but with everything else in the world available for home delivery, how many customers will continue to choose that option?

hopefully, as with many others bicycle matters, i am completey wrong.

specialized bicycles

monday 31 january 2022

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lost, in a changing world

rapha seeing sound

when rapha turned up, pretty much unannounced and almost fully-formed in 2004, founder and former ceo, simon mottram, was probably the last person who could genuinely state that he'd invented the company because he could never find just what he wanted when shopping for cycle clothing. with the alarmingly huge range of cycling apparel available to modern-day velocipedinist, you'd have to be unbelievably difficult to please if you can't find something you like in a size and colour that suits your pain and suffering.

the latter phrase was also one highlighted by imperial works. i recall the so-called wall of pain adjacent to mr mottram's desk in the original imperial works in london's kentish town. included on that wall was a selection of unpublished press adverts prepared for the nascent company, one of which proclaimed something along the lines of 'it's as well that you're used to pain and suffering. now, about our prices.'

rapha peanut butter

and according to the same mr mottram, when devising rapha's original branding, he had presented photographer, ben ingham (whatever happened to him?) with a copy of a book they subsequently published as 'kings of pain', by philippe brunel, featuring superb monochrome images of many of cycling's great heroes. thus was born a much envied and often parodied black and white branding, which filtered through to many of the original jerseys (the first classic jersey was available in either black or white with contrasting arm hoops, allegedly based on the historical french tradition of the nation's top sprinter tying a strip of white material to his sleeve).

though rapha has borne its fair share of detractors over the years, it could arguably be said that they gave the world of cycling apparel a much-needed kick up the chamois pad, forcing several others to re-appraise their own ranges and approach.

and on publishing their own cycling journal in the shape of rouleur, aside from reintroducing the wonderful aroma of ink on paper, two double-page spreads featured in early issues demonstrated that, carping aside, they truly understood their customers. as illustrated above, the first of those adverts included no text other than the rapha logo, alongside a jar of peanut butter and a campagnolo 15mm crank-bolt spanner atop peanut-buttered bread.

for those in the know, tour team mechanics, always the last to finish at the end of many a long day, would use the flat blade of the spanner to spread peanut butter on a hand-torn baguette. if you had to ask, you could scarcely call youself a member of the sport's cognoscenti. this was followed by a second advert that, once again, featured no copywriting, alongside a pair of hand-tooled brogues with a red cleat attached to the sole. in my humble opinion, those were two of the finest adverts of any genre to see publication.

rapha brogues

but those days are long gone. when rapha moved premises to the new imperial works in tileyard road, i have a feeling that the 'wall of pain' was left behind. rapha had become a remarkably successful company, with a considerably inflated staff roster (the main reason for the move), and offices in several countries across the world. subsequently sold to the walmart heirs for many millions of dollars, they have inevitably become more corporate in their approach. the last remaining staff member from the original days, mr mottram himself, stood down as chief executive officer at the end of 2021, replaced by a former executive of the retailer all saints, a gent who has also worked for burberry and gucci, though no mention of any cycling palmares.

changes in large companies are scarcely of great interest these days, particularly if all you want to do is order a new pair of bibshorts. however, it's not always the case that changes in corporate structure result in positive, public-facing moves. and rapha may be a case in point.

at the end of the coffee bar at debbie's café is a small pile comprising numerous copies of 'cycling weekly', which aileen kindly stocks each week for our consumate perusal. though i was unable to find the latest issue amongst this week's pile, i occupied myself re-reading last week's issue containing a review of cannondale's new synapse. and in the process of doing so, i realised that a full page i had completely ignored due to its extreme anonymity, was, in fact, a rapha advert.

though i do not have a copy of the ad for reproduction here, it featured a silhouetted profile of a cyclist sitting on the top tube of a bicycle. the darkened background is punctuated with out-of-focus white blobs resembling snowfall. the text, in gold, at the top left of the page states 'wherever winter takes you, keep riding', tentatively balanced with the rapha logo at bottom right. quite frankly, it's terrible, particularly when you consider the adverts and branding originated some eighteen years ago.

and though i have endless admiration for ef rider, lachlan morton and his marvellous efforts away from the world tour circus, just don't get me started on the 'seeing sound' collection, apparently created as a collaboration between rapha and lachie. in the words of joni mitchell, 'you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone'

sunday 30 january 2022

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campagnolo maintenance

it's a minor problem that i think affects the majority of rear-mounted caliper brakes, particularly those on bicycles bereft of mudguards. for the intrepid and style conscious roadie, that's likely to include most of us. admittedly, i only have experience of campagnolo's dual-pivot calipers, but in the light of the problem's origination, i can't see that other brands are likely to be immune.

to encapsulate it as accurately as i can, the crap thrown up from the roads during the winter months (most of the year round these here parts) gradually infiltrates the spring mechanism of the brake calipers, leading to friction that prevents the mechanism from returning to the manufacturer's desired position. the rider tends to experience this as a slightly rattly brake lever, with noticeably increased travel before engaging the cable. on bicycles such as my ritchey logic, with external cable routing along the top tube, it can be seen by way of a slackening of the cable.

i have generally coped with this by removing the caliper from the bicycle, thoroughly dousing it with wd40, and clearing out as much of the muck from behind the pivot spring as i can manage. in most cases, that has proved a satisfactory solution. no doubt such a minor travesty provides more grist to the mill for disc-brake advocates, but as my mother always used to remind my brother and i "pride bears no pain"; if i want to remain true to caliper brakes on a road bike, i should suffer in silence.

until this particular point in velocipedinal history, i have been content so to do.

however, along with many other corporations, campagnolo have been dropping frequent e-mails into my inbox, mostly advising of victories achieved on bicycles equipped with their groupsets, of new products, or of personalities whose day to day would be so much the worse were it not for that which arrives from vicenza. one of those missives arrived only yesterday, bearing the subject heading 'maintain peak performance'. always keen to do so in the light of failing personal performance, i opened the message to learn what i might do to have my record groupset ably assist in riding at a speed that has become the weekend norm.

featured underneath the headlining image, were three greyed images pertaining to 'cleaning, drivetrain' and 'brakes'. cleaning is not an exercise of which i felt in need of assistance, nor indeed that of drivetrain, which i currently have running as smooth as a smooth running thing. but given the persisting problem with the rear brake, i thought i might gain a kernal of additional knowledge that might help cure it once and for all.

you will perhaps share my disappointment when, on clicking the 'read more' button, i was met with the message, "optimising your campagnolo gear and bike through the winter months requires some simple bike-maintenance jobs. here's what you need to know...". as i mentioned above, neither cleaning and drivetrain were on my menu, so i eagerly headed straight to the brake section. i'm pretty sure you've already guessed at what's coming next.

"disc brakes are on the rise."

thus, the entire section on brakes commenced "So how you do you go about changing the pads? Thankfully, it's a pretty easy task." vicenza was pretty late to the rotor party, being the last of the big three to introduce hydraulic disc brakes on their groupsets, yet here they were, offering the great unwashed advice on how best to keep their expensive componentry in tip top condition, behaving as if every campagnolo customer has already invested not only in a set of disc brakes, but the wheels and frameset that allows them to do so.

i have no sales figures that might prove discs to be on more bicycles than their caliper predecessors, but it does seem a tad disenfranchising to exclude their owners from the party. those who prefer dual-pivots to that of discs, or who are not in possession of a frameset that would allow them to be fitted, are just as much customers of campagnolo as are those already in thrall to hydraulics. and, to put it bluntly, our bicycles are every bit as susceptible to the vicissitudes of winter weather as those of present day customers.

there's no doubting that discs are the future, whatever the opinions of luddites such as myself, and, as foretold by many an industry watcher, there will likely come a time when the formerly ubiquitous dual-pivot caliper will be surreptitiously dropped from the catalogue. for rim-brake aficionados, we will probably be confined to trawling the availability of 'new-old-stock' on ebay.

however, until that dastardly day dawns, can we please be treated as equals? and oddly enough, the image used by campagnolo to head up the web feature (above), appears to show one bicycle not equipped with disc brakes, effectively undermining their own double-standards.

maintain peak performance

saturday 29 january 2022

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are e-bikes missing a trick?

plug and socket

there's a video on youtube culled from the 1980s bbc series rock school featuring drummer bill bruford, where he describes his views on electronic drums. according to mr bruford, he liked electronic drums because they weren't acoustic drums, and the more that manufacturers tried to make them like the latter, the more he railed against it. bruford was one of the few drummers to exploit the interface capabilities of simmons drums, assigning synthesiser patches to each pad, allowing him to play melodic patterns, as evinced in the earlier versions of his band, earthworks.

e-bike manufacturers have, to a certain extent, done likewise, and we've pretty much sat back and let it happen.

ostensibly, an electric bicycle differs almost not at all from its analogue counterpart, other than sporting a larger downtube to accommodate the battery, sometimes a greatly enlarged rear hub to incorporate a motor, or featuring an external battery situated on a rear rack or behind the seat tube. other than that, the similarities are obvious. granted, the pedals really have to be where they are to suit the human body, but is it entirely necessary to utilise derailleur gearing, with its attendant sprocket cluster on the rear hub?

there have been many alternatives proposed to this ubiquitous drive system: the gates carbon belt, a driveshaft connected to the bottom bracket and a few varieties on those themes. yet none seem to have persisted. the belt drive still exists, and works every bit as well as foretold, yet it has failed to reach its full potential. at least two reasons for this might be the need to split the driveside chainstay in some manner or other, in order to fit or remove, and secondly, the necessity for it to drive a hub gear of some sort.

from my point of view, that's the part that's the least comprehensible.

many of the accessories reputedly specifically designed for e-bikes might be considered as bandwagon jumping (e-bike specific saddles anyone?) but there is continual underlining of the added strains placed on various e-bike components, and the need for application-specific alternatives. whether any of this is true or not is something of a moot point. however, taking into account the progress made in the field of crankset gearboxes, including one from honda, though i'm no engineer, it strikes me that incorporating the electric motor with an adjacent gearbox, might just be a step closer to the holy grail.

however, if i have, in fact, overstepped my total lack of engineering nous, and my theory has raised nothing more than raucous laughter, there's still the possibility of an internal hub gear on the rear wheel, driven via a toothed belt-drive. is this beginning to make a sliver of sense? so, instead of simply adding an electric motor to an existing bicycle-shaped object, there must surely have been a time and/or opportunity, to reconsider the requirements of the archetypal e-bike owner.

for starters, an internal hub gear is a tad heavier than a derailleur system. the latter varies depending on the brand and level of equipment, but a ballpark figure of around 1kg for front and rear mechs, chain and cassette doesn't seem to outlandish. a disc compatible, sturmey-archer three-speed hub lands at the wrong side of 1kg, and to be honest, doesn't really offer the gear range most riders would expect. the fourteen gears offered by germany's rohloff would surely be more practical, but their lower-priced offering is specified by the manufacturer as weighing 1.7kg. a gates carbon belt weighs around 240 grams, pretty much the same as the good old bike chain.

so, my argument for replacing the derailleur in this manner, might be thought just a smidgeon misguided. but lets not forget that we're talking electric bikes here, on which all-up weight is less of a problem than it might be on an entirely human powered bicycle. but hasn't it always been thus for the commuting cyclist, about which style of e-bike this discussion is mostly concerned?

i have, in thewashingmachinepost bike shed, a steel taurus corinto roadster with stirrup brakes, a sprung brooks leather saddle and a sturmey three-speed hub gear. it weighs around 22kg, but provided i harbour no thoughts of using it for a record attempt on the 21 hairpin bends on alpe d'huez, it does precisely what it says on the tin. specialized's original turbo vado weighed approximately 23kg, but they have introduced an sl version pared down to around 15kg. add a 1.7kg rohloff 14-speed hub gear to that, and you're still close to 5kg less than my taurus.

couple the rohloff with a gates belt drive, as has been successfully demonstrated by many a frame builder, and you have a state-of-the-art e-bike, with a transmission that needs almost no maintenance whatsoever, and a gear system that is protected from the commuting elements. granted, a rohloff isn't cheap, but given the economies of scale available to the principal manufacturers, probably not excessively so.

yet, suppose all my suggestions have already been explored and discarded as unworkable. considering these are electric bikes we're talking about, wouldn't it make some sort of sense to have fitted electric gears?

friday 28 january 2022

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endless possibilities

gravel route

aside from several attempts to master the art of cyclocross mounting and dismounting in the environs of bridgend woods, i'm pretty sure that my perambulations of the mud, grass, gravel etc., would currently be filed under the heading 'gravel riding'. it is this particular knowledge that initially aroused my suspicions surrounding the current gravel craze. let's face it, if a numpty such as i can scrabble about offroad, aboard a defined cyclocross bicycle, why was it necessary to invent the gravel bike?

however, as with pretty much all my negative reactions to cycling genres and technical indulgences, nobody really pays any attention, including mrs washingmachinepost; but obviously i'm not bright enough to know when to stop.

it's possible that members of the 'rough stuff fellowship' are in full agreement, having ridden the road less travelled for many a long year, long before the even the advent of the mountain bike. and if you've seen a copy of the isola press publication, further adventures in rough stuff, you will be aware that many of the bicycles involved in those offroad adventures, differed little from the standard road bikes of the day. no demonstrative need for the specialism seemingly required in the present.

i do have the distinct advantage of living in a rural, agricultural environment, and though i'm unlikely to be asked to help out at silage or harvest time, it's hard not to be aware of the more pertinent farming mores. thus, should my weekend parcours involve farm tracks, farm gates, a field or two and possibly sheep or cattle, i am sufficiently well-informed as to how to cope. that ability alone has endeared me to many of the local farmers, allowing several insult-free rides, that are not always shared by the itinerant visitor. the latter is often a particular bone of contention with the island's farming community.

but something that islay doesn't possess, and quite likely will never possess, is a bona-fide offroad route, specifically curated for those in thrall to gravel and mountain biking. that is something of a double-edged sword, potentially leaving the offroad fraternity adrift on an open path; possibly as welcome as regular cyclotourists, but with certain provisos concerning access, livestock control and the closing of gates. a gent of my acquaintance was badly injured by a cow around a year ago, when it objected to the existence of his dog. it's worth bearing in mind that these were free-roaming cattle and not in a fenced or walled field.

and it should also be recorded that the gentleman and his dog were some distance from the cattle, and he was well experienced in such situations.

since the outset of the pandemic, an increase in those commuting by bicycle has led to increased demand for improved cycling facilties. many of these demands have been answered with money made available by government, allowing councils to install temporary or permanent cycle tracks and associated facilities. some of these, such as the example on glasgow's great western road, seem a tad flawed in concept, disappearing before reaching anywhere meaningful, and there will be few cyclists who would disagree that there's room for improvement.

but, as the gravel trend appears to be on the up, if media accounts are anything to go by, how long before those demands extend to the undergrowth? it does make a degree of sense that the cycling public find riding offroad, away from motor traffic, to be preferable to cycling on britain's congested, potholed roads. but does this mean that, in addition to the cycle paths already demanded, are the apprentice gravellers, at this very minute, preparing to put their hands up and ask for official gravel tracks, enabling the justification of a gravel bike purchase for daily travel?

in parts of the rural idyll, it's possible that doing so would not present too much of a problem, but riding from knightswood in glasgow to the city centre on an offroad track might be a great deal harder than it sounds (unless, in fact, you live in knightswood). however, bmx riders have often benefited from municipal ramps, half-pipes and other facilities i don't understand. skateboarders, likewise. so why not gravel riders?

however, one of the stated and implied joys of gravel riding is the freedom from officialdom; that there are no policed junctions, no pedestrian crossings and no roundabouts, with tracks positively encouraging exploration, riding until you've no idea where you are. granted, the latter is hardly an aspect of which you'd be in favour if trying to get to school or work on time. but were routes to gain offical approval, there's little doubt there would be strictures of some kind, and if rules are imposed, there needs to be some way of policing them.

you may think i live in some sort of fantasy world, and i'd not be inclined to entirely disagree, but gravel rules have already reared their ugly head at the behest of cycling's governing body. in which case, where's the difference between that principle and limitations imposed by the local council? bizarrely enough, there's already such a thing as gravel triathlon, a nascent sport that has already seen a ban on time-trial bikes and tri-bars. and when wind tunnel specialists begin measuring the aero drag coefficient of gravel tyres, you know we're about to be in serious trouble.

if gravel really does mean freedom, let's leave it that way.

thursday 27 january 2022

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rapha knee-pads

a press release that i received from rapha yesterday afternoon began with a tautology that will hardly be news to any cyclist, other than those who ride track. to wit: 'Gravity can be a rider's greatest friend and their worst enemy'. i am disappointingly reminded of this fact each and every sunday morning as we ascend the col du rspb, usually, in my case, from the rear-gunner's position. according to mr maths, ostensiby our most complex member of the peloton, of all the forces affecting the universe, gravity is its weakest; i'm not sure if i believe him or not.

however, aside from rider incompetence, gravity is the major cause of cycling accidents. if that seems a tad weird, were it not for its existence, unfortunate or inept manouevres would be unlikely to result in you or i hitting the tarmac as a result.

years and years of observing the professional road-going peloton have brought to my attention that, while formula one racing drivers wear flameproof overalls, full face helmets, six-point safety harnesses and sit within fast-moving vehicles that are constructed with the ability to shrug off high-speed connections with armco barriers, world tour cyclists ride wholly unprotected, clad purely in short-sleeve polyester jerseys and thin lycra shorts.

granted, even mark cavendish would struggle to reach the take-off speed of a formula one mclaren, but proportionally, tour de france, or, more realistically, paris-roubaix, riders don't have a lot between them and severe, gravity-induced road-rash. which is sort of where the rest of rapha's press release begins to have a more enduring attraction. for 'tis but around eight months since imperial works dipped its considerable toe into the world of offroad; the knobbly tyre brigade, as to which they are disparagingly referred (mostly by yours truly). and in order to protect their lower limbs from gravel, tree-roots and horrifying, scrabbly descents, rapha have introduced 'a form-fitting package that keeps knees safe when the trail takes its toll.'

rapha knee-pads

placed in a more product-friendly manner, 'a super lightweight, highly pedal-friendly, trail-oriented knee pad with Level 2, Type B protection - the highest certified level of protection found in any pair of lightweight knee pads on the market'. but as jess at rapha pointed out at the beginning of her e-mail, i had received it because i'm on her mtb mailing list, as opposed to the dedicated mtb list that sends to the bona-fide, knobbly tyre press contingent. that would indicate that these particular knee pads are not directed at the road-going fraternity. ultimately, that means we are not being treated as equals.

as was once pointed out by rapha in their earlier days, road cycling has a rich heritage, acquired over many years of mountains, cobbled roads, alpine descents and windswept classics events. heck, even the guys who ride 'cross, itself a sport with a long, chequered history, dress no more protectively than their road going compatriots. and, quite frankly, that's not really fair.

mountain biking already has cool, full-face helmets, accompanying its 'hey dude' philosophy, though on the downside, the bicycles resemble little more than brightly-coloured farm gates with springs. but, we are discussing gravity and its disproportionate favouring of the offroad peloton, a state of affairs that allows its knee-warmers to be a tad heftier than ours, with a built-in ability to repel cruise-missiles, landing parties and rocks that go bump in the night.

and that's even more not fair.

i think it only seemly, therefore, that i compose a strongly worded letter to the imperial works administrators, forcibly requesting that they 'beef-up' even the pro-team kneewarmers, with appropriately slimline, carbon-fibre, gore-tex protection (none of your wishy-washy, namby-pamby rheon active polymer technologies) for the ever stylish roadie. when i've got the wording right, i'll pass it round for signing.

p.s. just to say that rapha's heading 'crash confidently', doesn't quite work for me.

rapha trail knee-pads

rapha knee-pads

wednesday 26 january 2022

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new bike day

sram rival cassette/gear mech

i can but apologise for the misleading nature of today's heading; i do not actually have a new bike in the accepted sense of that phrase, but a simple, yet comprehensive upgrade to my specialized crux cyclocross bike has provided the kernel of a new bike both in terms of looks and function.

on its arrival at the croft in summer 2016, the bicycle's gearing did not function in quite the manner that the sram corporation would have expected. this lack of changing perfection, however, was not actually the fault of stanley r day jr.'s esteemed corporation, but more likely the fault of a slightly deformed, replaceable gear hanger. one of the reasons i suspected thus, was a predilection for the jockey arm to brush lightly across the spokes of the rear wheel.

should evidence be required in support of this contention, i would point the jury in the direction of the circumferential scratches on the flat-edged, drive-side spokes.

sram rival cassette/gear mech

however, correction of this state of affairs was left in abeyance after my one and only attempt to recruit a replacement hanger, was dashed by continuous 'out of stock' notices. and to be honest, the need to occasionally double-tap the double-tap to achieve the desired rear sprocket was but a minor irritant.

however, this misalignment, in retrospect, may have caused the total disintegration of the lower jockey wheel's cartridge bearing last autumn. the replacement pair (the upper jockey wheel was perilously close to re-enacting its sibling's behaviour), though advertised as suitable for the rival long-cage rear mech, turned out to be considerably less substantial in circumference, bringing the upper wheel a tad closer to the larger sprockets than would have been adjudged ideal.

sram rival cassette/gear mech

and simply to add insult to injury, at the time of the replacement of the jockey wheels, i was to discover that the cable adjuster at the rear of the mech was happier to simply revolve independently, rather than actually make any of the desired tension adjustments. with deteriorating functionality, there seemed no alternative but to finally make an insistent push to acquire a replacement gear hanger, this time, accomplished via e-bay.

the fly-in-the-ointment arose on receipt of the new gear hanger, when it transpired that the existing rival gear mech had no intention of separating itself from the errant hanger. add to that, an apparent loss of spring tension when accessing the cassette's smaller sprockets, as you will undoubtedly have guessed, and not entirely unexpectedly, this meant purchase of a new sram rival eleven-speed long-cage derailleur. in order to be all encompassing, my order was accompanied by a shiny new chain, and a cassette bearing a 36-tooth large sprocket to assist my ageing limbs when perambulating anything taller than a humpty-back bridge.

sram rival cassette/gear mech

justification of my original diagnosis was realised following the installation of all three components, resulting in eleven, easily accessible gears on the 1x setup. and just while i'm here, if anyone from vicenza happens to be reading, why can we not have an italian equivalent of the 'power-link' connectors to join a super-record, twelve-speed chain? call it 'ergo-link', or whatever you deem suitable, but please make it so. though i already possess your eye-wateringly expensive chain-tool, i'd gladly mount it as an ornament on the mantlepiece, in exchange for an easier method of joining a campagnolo chain.

following a quick check of a youtube video to ensure i'd routed the cable correctly (which i had, via the remarkably helpful plastic guide fitted adjacent to the pinch-bolt), i proceeded to setup the indexing, and for the first time in its velocipedinal life, the, crux perfectly offered every single gear with the flick of a double-tap lever. which, from my point of view, is exactly the same as a new bike day.


tuesday 25 january 2022

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