Sunday, April 21, 2013

Nerdish Alert

. . . about this post. There, you've been warned.  If you're into nerdish though, this post is kinda good.

The plan for this weekend was to find some nooks and crannies in my schedule to shake down and test out some of the gear details at Antoine, which I see as a fine proving ground for the Quilomene trip.  And also, to acquire a bit of fitness, of which I acknowledge I am seriously lacking.

I did manage to get the ass-end gear strategy implemented, at least for this trip.

Tent on top, sleeping bag underneath.  Both in super lightweight dry bags.  Hell ya.

Sleeping pad on the left, funky lightweight camp chair on the right.   Hell ya.

But as I was climbing, climbing, climbing Antoine, as one is wont to do, the shit kind of hit the fan:  I was on this steeper-than-average incline and so I was standing.  And then the pedals stopped turning.  Like, as in, some sort of serious chain suck type of event.  Except that it wasn't. It was similar, but it was a small chainring buckling type of event, as I have now begun to refer to it.

This picture's not the best, I know.  But I think you can at least ascertain that something's not exactly right.

There was no more pedalling that was going to be happening on this ride, with this bike, on this day.  Fortunately, karmically, I had been pedalling uphill, and all I had to do was generally coast downhill, back to the parking lot and truck.  Where I piled my quite messed up steed into the cargo hold.

Back home, I pulled the crank arm and got a glimpse of how bad things really were.  Let me say it for you:  "Holy living hell."

I would like to tell you that it was the massive power in my legs that destoyed this chanring and that I wouldn't wish the curse of massive leg power on you, let alone my worst enemy, but in good conscience I cannot. Because the picture does not lie.  Here's the deal, nerds:  The 3:00 bolt was "snug". The 6:00 bolt was visibly loose and backed off.  The 9:00 bolt was gone.  So there was very little resistance to the massive force generated by my legs (sorry, I cannot lie), and as a result, the system failed.  The 12:00 bolt, which I suspect was already loose, got pulled sideways out of the crank arm and left this aftermath . . .

So in conclusion, the little chainring and the crank arm are toast. I also need four of those funky machine screw dealies, because one is lost and one I don't feel good about and the other two I just want to replace, on principle.  I got everything pulled apart at about 6:30 and there's exactly one bike shop in town that I know of that is open at that time on Saturday and that is REI and so I bee-lined down there, hoping against hope. Which one should not do.  Because they didn't have what I needed.  Nothing against them.

Here's where the story gets kind of interesting, though . . .

Knowing that I would not have the time to go through my bike, mechanically, in preparation for this trip, I dropped it off at my LBS and told them what I knew was wrong with it and asked them to look it over from top to bottom and get it ship shape.  One of the things they found was that the large chainring had a chipped tooth, and I asked them to replace it.  Which they did.  In the course of which, they would have pulled the crank arm and possibly noticed anything weird about how the small chainring was fastened.  I guess I would have expected them to.  They would not have technically had to pull the small chainring off or have otherwise messed with it to replace the big chainring, to be clear.

BUT.  I rode this bike across the state and for hundreds of other miles and there were no chainring problems.  And then I take it in.  And when I get it back, within just a few short rides, I have this crazy failure.

I get that I'm responsible for my bike.  I guess.  On the other hand, if I trust a shop that assures me that they are qualified to look over my bike and charge me a considerable amount of money to do so, then I expect them to find and fix problems.  The whole thing just smells kinda funny to me, but I'll let you be the judge of whether I'm out of line here.

In other business, then.

I've always thought the idea of protecing your stay with an inner tube is quite rad, aesthtically, if not functionally and frugalitically (if that is actually a word).  All things in due time, of course, and as I was envying [Quilomene partner] Joe's same-style stay protector this week, I decided it was due time.

I'm pretty sure relatively certain that after last year's flatstravaganza, I will be carrying two spare tubes.

I've unabashedly stolen this concept of securing my dual $25 superflash tail lights against the bounciness of the trail from Mr. Speare.  One zip tie is all it takes.  Pow.  Thank you, Mr. Speare.


joe said...

Wow - pure nastiness. But..... better to have it fail on a shake down ride.

Not to be a "I told you so" type of guy (and because I actually never told you so) but when a wrench touches my bike(s), I'm either holding it or standing very close to the person holding it (and they are very uncomfortable because I'm wringing my hands and fidgeting uncontrollably).

joe said...

OK - one more thing about the chainring mishap. I recently (last week) pulled my cranks and removed all my chainrings for maintenance, stripping out one of the chainring bolts on the little chainring in the process. The next hour involved an easy out and a busted knuckle, but I got it out. I then greased all the threads up and reassembled. The first thing I did was attach the little chainring to the cranset and tighten the bolts (star pattern of course). Next I tried to attach the middle and big ring (same as your big ring and bash guard) and I could not get the middle ring over the little ring or over the crank spider to reattach. I had to take the little ring back off and install the big and middle before I could reinstall the little ring. I'm not saying yours is the same way - but I'm betting your LBS mechanic had to remove the granny ring to replace the big ring.

Grampa Ring said...

You make a good case, Mr. S. Everything was working fine until Mr. Speare convinced you to add that zip tie.

"Pow" indeed.

Multifool said...

I can't see that Mr. Speare has exposed himself to any liability here, if his role was truly limited to zip tie inspiration.

Anonymous said...

I have similar cranks and change gearing for single speed races. The outer 2 rings will come off without crank removal on mine. It is like one of those chain puzzles, but they come right off if rotated correctly.

On a side note: I have had chain rings come loose on me long distances from home on the trail. I check them regularly as part of routine safety processes. I also carry spares. They actually make very little fuss until all of the sudden they fail (usually not until one falls out).

I will say depending on miles vs. Service interval your local bike shop should have caught it.

Grampa Ring said...

I would agree, so long as we limit any discussion of zip tie liability exposure to civil liability.

We can't tell from Mr. S's complaint if Mr. Speare may have also "inspired" or suggested the use of duct tape. That would be a crime on a such a fine bike.

From the photographs it looks like we can also assume a nexus between zip ties and the innertube on the chainstay. Why is Mr. S silent about those zip ties, while drawing attention to the zip tie placement purportedly inspired by Mr. Speare?

Let's not rush to assumptions, at least not until Mr. Speare has the opportunity to deny Mr. S.'s account, or offer mitigating explanations.

mechBgon said...

Yikes! Pat, I will personally see to the free replacement of your crankset on Monday. FSA is based in Washington, so I'll hope for it to arrive Tuesday. You use 175mm cranks, right?

Multifool said...

Ha! I knew the zip tie was a red herring.

Nicely played, Mr. S.

You may, however, owe an apology to Mr. Speare.

If he actually exists.

Pat S said...

Tom, that's awesome! Yes, 175 mm. I'll shoot you a separate email.

Joe, I get what you're saying about wanting to do all your own wrenching, but with my schedule right now, it just wasn't gonna happen. I've known my LBS mechanics for a long time and trust them a lot. I think it's a reasonable expectation then, that I can drop of a bike and delegate the necessary level of attention to detail to them.

Does that mean that I don't need to be vigilant to mechanical details over the course of time? Certainly not. But the bike should be right when I pick it up from them.

As this is my first catastrophic chainring failure, I can tell you that I now fully understand the consequences and will be checking chainring bolts more regularly. You're right - I'm damned lucky that this happened on a shakedown ride as opposed to somewhere in the middle of Quilomene. We'd have somehow managed to get the small chainring straightened out enough to allow the cranks to turn, or somehow cut it and get it completely out, but either way I'd have been stuck with the big ring for the rest of the trip, which would suck.

Anon, that's interesting that you carry spares. That's not something I would have ever considered doing prior to this. Still not sure if I would now, but something to think about.

Grampa, you have a keen eye and an even sharper mind. The use of the same black zip ties on the chainstay protector as were used on the lights was clearly a tactical error on my part, not to mention the sheer idiocy of then placing photographic evidence on the internet. I should have used white zip ties on the protector. Duh.

mechBgon said...

175 it is! I'm also going to ask if they have a lighter guide ring for the outer position. What you have is a full-on bashguard, about 100x stronger than necessary if you're not landing the crank on rocks. IIRC it weighs a whopping 130 grams.

Not sure exactly what did happen to cause the fiasco there, but I can see from the photos that I did have those bolts out (there's red Sta-Lube Extreme Pressure grease around the vacant bolt hole, same as on the crank spindle) so it's likely I didn't fasten them tightly enough.

Pat S said...

Wow, thanks Tom. Just so you know, the crankset came set up as a triple, and I removed the big ring, and bought and installed the bash gaurd separately.

bikewrider said...

Sounds like you're being well taken care of, that's awesome!
Stuff happens, and I'm pretty sure every owner's manual tells you you're supposed to check every bolt before every ride just to cover their arses.

I'd say just be proud of yourself for being cool enough to destroy something in such an impressive fashion. I did something similar a couple years ago about 0.5miles into a ride:

Had no one to blame but myself since the bike hadn't visited an LBS as long as I'd owned it.

I used to have a paranoia about how something always went wrong after I brought my car to the shop. Finally realized it's best to just find a shop I trust and recognize that sometimes things happen, and it didn't make my life any better to try and pin it on the shop.

Unknown said...

Pat S. I very much want a fender/rack setup like yours. I have a 18" pugs that I ride year around in Denver and am wanting something I can keep dry with but also ad panniers if I need to run to the store. Are these custom made?
any and all information is greatly appreciated.

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