Monday, May 4, 2015

What's In A [Name] ?

If you are removing a wheel and you see this, your day is going to crap. Trust me, I have been there.

(Never mind the fact that the derailleur isn't fastened correctly)

In order to understand this, or hell... even try to understand this, you have to remember where it came from. [Name Redacted Bike Shop] must have been running a Spring Special on used crapcycles because this rolling fudge factory landed in my lap today and as always, did not disappoint.

Changing a simple flat rear tire was the beginning of things, and the first sign of what was to come was how hard it was to remove the wheel from the frame. After a good whacking, the wheel dislodged and it became clear; I was holding in my hand, a wheel that essentially acted as a 130mm "peg" that had been jammed into a 126mm hole.

What this means of course, is that the technician who is unlucky enough to have to re-install this wheel faces this 

That's a long way to have to stretch a steel frame by hand while simultaneously installing the wheel. It's a feat that is not impossible, I mean even I have done it before on purpose, but this in itself wouldn't be bad if it weren't for the fact that it was going to get a lot worse.

 You see, this is where the axle ended which caused the cassette's lock ring to rub the hell out of the frame so what did they do?

...they added these two little spacers

Effectively adding to the width of the axle for a grand total of 133mm. Curious, I began to tear apart the axle to get a closer look.

By "...tear the axle apart..." I meant lightly tap the axle on the bench to see how many washers fall out; Four.

Four washers and no lock nut. Just a cone and some spacers holding the bearings in adjustment.

I wish I could say that I was surprised, but [Name Redacted Bike Shop] is notorious for this type of stuff. Just last year I showed you how they used a checker as a hub cone lock washer.

That was a hoot!

In addition to the headset and seat post debacles, this new development was enough to get me thinking about how this all went down.

Picture if you will, someone's blue Azuki; a solid frame, decent components... in the 70's this bike made someone very happy.

For whatever reason this bike (and millions of others like it) becomes a garage decoration after 20 or so years and winds up in the hands of someone's kids, grand kids, etc... before falling into disrepair and being left abandoned on a college campus or worse, in a dumpster.*

*At this point I find myself wondering which is worse. I mean, I know that I would rather end up in a dumpster than chained to a bike rack for all eternity.  

Anyway, along comes [Name Redacted Bike Shop] who, sincerely trying to do a good thing scoops up said Azuki and feebly attempts to make a buck and at the same time get a bike back on the road. 

A noble cause but for one factor... their ineptitude.

The reason the wheel won't fit is that the bicycle was originally spec'd with 27" wheels that were probably garbage by the time they got the bike. Replacing them with 700c wheels wasn't the problem either. I mean, you can do that on this bike as the brakes allow for the reach of a shorter wheel, but it makes setting them up a pain in the ass sometimes. The problem lies in the fact that this frame is spaced 126mm in the rear and the wheel, 133mm (now with SPACERS).

So. IF you somehow manage to spread the frame and get the wheel in that space (it is assumed that it spread the frame evenly - that is to say the frame is still aligned), you are still limited on space by the size of the gear cluster. In this case, a 7 speed cassette in a frame that came spec'd with a 6 speed freewheel simply does not jive, turkey.

This is where some clueless asshole created a problem and the cascade of events that followed.

Back in the day, bicycles were still spec'd with Suntour. (The REAL Suntour, not that SR crap) Friction shifting would have been the standard on this bike as it was on all bike boom bikes of it's kind. It featured a twelve speed double with (my favorite front derailleur of all time) a Suntour SPIRT.

As Derailleur technology evolved, their shapes (parallelograms) and pull ratios changed according to the number of gears we could fit in a frame. In this era however, It had not evolved beyond 6 speeds and so the frame remained of a particular width (125/6) and the derailleur, a particular shape. Near the same time 7 speed drive trains were on the horizon which brought with it another problem; how to fit 7 speeds where 6 existed. This problem was addressed with the introduction of what has become the modern day free hub body.

(the one on the left)

It was shorter than its modern equivalents but it had to be because that was the only way you were going to get 7 speeds in a frame designed for 6.

If [Name Redacted Bike Shop] had used that type of body and subsequent cogs, then this point would be moot. It might have shifted like junk because the shifters don't have the correct amount of pull, but it would still have worked. Undeterred, they continued on...

Using a free hub body that is intended for 8/9/10 speed cassettes was a problem for two reasons; It doesn't fit in the damn frame but also, if you have 7 of something in a place where there were supposed to be 8 (or more) you are going to have to take up the extra space with something, right?

If you don't see it, look closer...

On it's own... I could overlook this. I mean hell, it fits the spline and takes up space which are the only two jobs a spacer has in life but that one cog right there and EVERYTHING it represents, makes me want to lose my damn mind.

Please God. Make it Stop.