Tuesday, September 30, 2008


So last week, the van, our only car, lost it's clutch, or more succinctly, the pilot bearing that helps the clutch engage shattered. A local shop fixed it but then the van came back with the inability to shift into 1st gear and a very troubling habit of not turning over immediately when the key is turned to "start".

I had somewhat of a handle on this kind of thing and sent it back, knowing that both problems were related to the mechanic having taken the transmission out and putting it back in. It was expensive but these little trifles were fixed free of charge.

Well, well, well.... Bikes aren't that reliable either. For instance, on the cargo bike ride mentioned below, our tandem pulled a flat tire, and then when we pulled the wheel off, the hub fell apart. It's one of those ingenious Phil Wood style hubs but cheaper, much cheaper, and I'm not impressed.

On our progressive dinner ride, the lights stopped working on my beach cruiser which I had lent to a friend for the ride. There are a million places where the problem could be: light bulb, grounding issue, switch, wiring that was put together by me and run through the gas tank horn, etc. What was it? The magnet in the hub was glued in (Sturmey Archer dynamo hub with a drum brake) and when the brakes were activated, the heat caused the glue to fail, causing the magnet to spin with the coil, thus not creating electricity. How about that? Aaron's bike repair, the only place to go for help with hub generators and internal gears, fixed it with aplomb.

Last night's maintenance festival included the following:
~pull off cruiser tire zip tied to the tandem (snips poked and flatted tandem tire),
~install cruiser wheel on cruiser (fork, suspension brace, and 4 fender struts all fit onto the axle before it can be tightened with a wrench, but not before attaching the brake arm and finally attaching the electrical cord),
~wipe off excess chrome polish on cruiser,
~clean cruiser chain and adjust seat from progressive bike dinner,
~Figure out why front light not working on LHT,
~Determine that it might be a bulb (ockam's razor),
~discover that it's in a failed electrical connector (free wire was the clue),
~fix LHT lighting system just well enough to last until a generator hub wheel can be found and built (2 weeks to 4 months) and Claire's extra B&M light can be installed, in other words, not tremendously well,
~fix tandem tire (mini v-brakes plus shimano brake levers equals cussing),
~clean three more bike chains (tandem, Check, LHT),
~install shim on rear Burley trailer light so that it doesn't flop around (innertube to the rescue),
patch tandem tube,
~make sure that each saddle has a rain proof cover now that fall is here,

I didn't even pump up any tires. Today's ride featured a disarmingly cushy ride on some 25 mm rubber.

But the list goes on: In the past month, I've had 9 flats, a failed tire, a hub fall into pieces, a hub work loose, lights go out on two bikes (the aforementioned magnet, and a connector break apart), 1 lost orange flag, numerous shift adjustments, an inline cyclocross brake interrupter came apart at the hinge, electrical tape holding the bar tape magically moistened and fell off, one broken fender (overuse, two for the year), mudflap came loose, numerous zipties, became brittle and failed, replaced one set of brake pads, one sticky drum brake (tandem), lighting connectors have come loose, reflectors have fallen off, broken brake cable, and now two menacingly squeaky pedals.

Are bikes really more reliable?

Why can't Toyota or Porsche build a bicycle?

1 comment:

Joe said...

How do you like that Sturmey Archer Dynamo Drum brake hub? That is, since it's been repaired.